Are pedestrians safe when they cross the street in Chicago in a crosswalk? Crosswalks are designed to ensure that pedestrians are not at risk of collision with a motor vehicle, and automobiles are required by law to yield to pedestrians in crosswalks. However, pedestrian collisions happen much more often than you might think, and they often occur because a driver in a car or truck is not paying attention or is driving too quickly to come to a stop when a pedestrian enters a crosswalk. According to a recent article in the Chicago Sun-Times, many pedestrians worry about their safety and risk of personal injury when walking in Chicago.
According to the article, pedestrians do not always feel safe when crossing the street in a crosswalk. Even if you are on foot and clearly wait for the pedestrian light to indicate that you are safe to cross, a driver might not see you or might not be paying attention. As the author of the article reflects, “I find myself wondering if crosswalks are actually intended for pedestrian use.” In other words, people on foot do not often believe they are going to be able to cross the street safely despite the presence of the crosswalk.
The statistics appear to support these kinds of perceptions. According to a report from CBS News, pedestrian accidents and fatalities have been rising significantly in Chicago over the last several years. Indeed, between 2014 and 2015, there was a 26 percent increase in pedestrian fatalities in the city, with 44 reported pedestrian deaths. And according to Rebecca Scheinfeld, the Chicago Department of Transportation Commission, “a significant number of those happened while the pedestrians were in marked crosswalks.” In 2016, 44 pedestrians also suffered fatal injuries, and that number rose again to 46 in 2017.
What are the laws surrounding pedestrians and crosswalks in Chicago? And what can pedestrians do if they get hurt in a collision with an automobile?
The key piece of information for Chicago pedestrians to remember is this: if you step into either a continental crosswalk (a crosswalk that looks like a white ladder) or a crosswalk that has transverse marking (a crosswalk with thinner lines that appears more often in residential areas), drivers are required to stop for you. And if you are walking in the middle of a crosswalk in the City of Chicago—even if traffic has made it so that the lights have changed—you still have the right of way.
According to the Chicago Department of Transportation’s chief of traffic safety, drivers are “always supposed to give the pedestrian a safe passage, a safe berth.” What happens if a driver fails to do this? If a driver does not exercise due care when it comes to pedestrians on city streets, the driver can be fined anywhere from $90 to $500.
What can you do if you were injured in a pedestrian accident caused by a negligent motorist? You may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit. An experienced Chicago pedestrian accident attorney can discuss your case with you today. Contact Saks, Robinson & Rittenberg, Ltd. to speak with a dedicated advocate.