Print version: Required crosswalk stops heads to governor
Illinois drivers will have to watch more closely as they go through crosswalks under a plan headed to the governor.
House Bill 43 would require motorists to stop at crosswalks where pedestrians exist. The measure passed the Senate 33-15 Thursday.
It would not apply to regulated crosswalks, which have stop signs or traffic signals. Failing to stop could result in fine of at least $150.
Current law requires drivers to yield to pedestrians in crosswalks. Advocates say the change is a big boost for passerby safety.
"Our leaders have made walking a more convenient and safer option," said Rob Sadowsky, executive director of the Active Transportation Alliance. "That means safer streets for a large population of people who are unable to drive or choose not to drive."
A March 2009 report from the advocacy organization found that 172 pedestrians were killed in 2007 in Illinois, up from 137 in 2006.
In 2007, 1,094 pedestrians were seriously injured, while 1,249 were seriously injured in 2006, according to the report.
Opponents of the measure contend that it could increase traffic accidents by forcing drivers to stop suddenly and cause rear-end collisions.
"You have someone driving down the road and someone steps into a crosswalk, you don't know that it is a crosswalk because you can't see that it's a crosswalk," said Sen. Larry Bomke, R-Springfield. "The person in front sees it, slams on the brake and people behind him are going to run into the back of him. There already is a law to give pedestrians the right away."
Sen. Heather Steans, the Chicago Democrat sponsoring the idea, brushed aside that criticism.
"A number of other states already have this law in place, and that has not been their experience," she said.
Illinois joins more than a dozen states that have similar laws, including California and Massachusetts.
The measure passed the House in 2009, but couldn't muster the 30 'yes' votes needed in the Senate until it was resurrected this year.
Matt Hopf can be reached at 217-782-3095 or Matt.firstname.lastname@example.org.