Dozens of dummies have message for pedestrians

October 25, 2011 3:00:41 PM PDT
They can't talk, but dozens of dummies lining Wacker Drive are speaking volumes. The mannequins have a message for pedestrians -- and drivers -- in downtown Chicago.

The citywide pedestrian safety campaign kicks off this week with an installation of 32 mannequins along Wacker Drive, each one representing one of the 32 pedestrians killed in Chicago crashes in 2010. The campaign is aimed at reducing injuries and fatalities .

"Drivers need to be safer, but I also think pedestrians need to be more smart, look both ways when crossing the street," said pedestrian Dan Hetland.

In 2010, there were just under 3,000 crashes involving pedestrians. Pedestrian injuries and fatalities in Chicago have declined.

"It is our job to ensure that pedestrians stay safe. They are the most vulnerable population on our streets," said Chicago Department of Transportation Commissioner Gabe Klein.

Drivers must obey traffic signals and let pedestrians cross when they have the right of way. At a crosswalk with no traffic signals, the driver must stop for pedestrians crossing.

The campaign is aimed at drivers to stop for pedestrians in crosswalks.

"Just because drivers want to rush wherever they are going, it is a priority that pedestrians are more important," said driver Iris Torocio.

"Enforcement programs are very important," said Chicago Police Lt. David Blanco.

CDOT says about 80 percent of vehicle-pedestrian crashes in Chicago occur at intersections with pedestrians crossing the street on the walk signal and that drivers failing to yield is the No. 1 reason for many of these crashes. They believe the mannequins will call attention to the problem.

"It is good to promote awareness, but what you need...better law enforcement," said driver Joe Donnelly.

In addition to the mannequins, other high-profile elements of the campaign will include messages on bus shelters, trash bins, information panels posted on sidewalks, and outreach to taxi drivers, schools and senior citizen shelters.

As part of the new campaign, small crossing flags will be installed in neighborhoods and pedestrian safety messages will be stenciled on sidewalks in high traffic areas around the city.


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