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Harris wants to penalize drivers for hitting people in crosswalks

Monday, Jan 30, 2017

* Kerry Lester

A suburban lawmaker is pushing to make failing to yield to pedestrians in a crosswalk a felony if it results in death or injury. The move was inspired by the death of a Mount Prospect mother of five.

State Rep. David Harris, an Arlington Heights Republican, tells me he attended meetings after the June 9 death of 55-year-old Joni Beaudry, who was struck and killed as she rode her bike through a Central Road crosswalk near Melas Park.

“One of the things that troubled me so much is that over the years we’ve emphasized the right of the pedestrian in the crosswalk,” Harris said. “But that’s just one side of it. … We’ve got to tell drivers, if you don’t do it, there’s a penalty.”

Currently, there are no penalties on the books for striking a pedestrian in a crosswalk, though drivers are penalized for reckless driving. Hanna Burzynska, 56, of Elk Grove Village, pleaded guilty to three different traffic violations for hitting Beaudry. Burzynska lost her license for a period of time and had to pay $364 in fines and court costs.

Learn something new every day. I had no idea there weren’t any specific penalties for hitting people in a crosswalk.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Robert the 1st - Monday, Jan 30, 17 @ 2:23 pm:

    What’s the logic here? Does Harris really believe people are ignoring crosswalks because the penalty for doing so isn’t tough enough?

  2. - Dan Johnson - Monday, Jan 30, 17 @ 2:24 pm:

    Thanks Rep Harris.

    I understand that current law says that the motorist only has to yield if you are in the crosswalk, not if you are standing on the sidewalk trying to enter the crosswalk. That seems a little unfair to force the motorist to get into the crosswalk rather than forcing the driver to yield to the pedestrian who is trying to enter the crosswalk.

  3. - siriusly - Monday, Jan 30, 17 @ 2:28 pm:

    The IL rules around crosswalks, and our habits especially in Chicago are really poor. Many other states you see drivers are far more protective of pedestrians and crosswalks.

    I don’t have a problem with this idea, but generally the whole crosswalk thing is a misunderstood mess

  4. - A guy - Monday, Jan 30, 17 @ 2:36 pm:

    ===“One of the things that troubled me so much is that over the years we’ve emphasized the right of the pedestrian in the crosswalk,” Harris said. ===

    The problem is; we really haven’t done this. Maybe some towns have…to the local folks who live there…but, a city the size of Arlington Heights will have tens of thousands of visitors each year who may be unfamiliar with these crosswalks. In some places there’s a flashing red or yellow light all of the time. Not saying that’s the answer, but it sure does get your attention.

  5. - downstate commissioneri - Monday, Jan 30, 17 @ 2:38 pm:

    Don’t have a problem with crosswalks at intersections, but all of a sudden, we have these crosswalks popping up all over. Roads and streets are made for vehicles; pedestrians are “permitted users”. I have a real problem with pedestrians having the right-of-way over vehicles. Pedestrians should have to stop for cars, not the other way around.

  6. - A guy - Monday, Jan 30, 17 @ 2:38 pm:

    Also, I’m not sure a “bonus” penalty is warranted. When you’ve hit a pedestrian, I think there’s enough penalties available to prosecute the crime.

  7. - In 630 - Monday, Jan 30, 17 @ 2:39 pm:

    Suburbanites barely recognize the existence of crosswalks.

  8. - Stuff Happens - Monday, Jan 30, 17 @ 2:43 pm:

    Sounds like there might be other factors at play, too.

    The crosswalk was installed in October 2015, and some Mount Prospect residents have alleged the new crosswalk signal being used in Illinois and across the U.S. is confusing, dangerous and should be removed.

    For example, in a petition signed by 962 residents that was presented to the village board last month, local residents leading the safety effort wrote, “The problem with (the crosswalk signal) is that it does not provide the driver with definitive instructions as how to proceed when they see the yellow flashing lights. Drivers simply don’t know what to do.”

    As an Urbana resident, I know the frustration with pedestrians all too well. Cyclists can be even worse — they think that cars will stop for them, so they zip out to cross a four-lane road without warning. I almost hit a kid wearing black with no bicycle light in the rain the other night.

    Regardless, it’s tragic.

  9. - Out Here In The Middle - Monday, Jan 30, 17 @ 2:44 pm:

    A guy is concerned about bogus penalties. According to the story “Burzynska lost her license for a period of time and had to pay $364 in fines and court costs.” Just guessing that Rep. Harris thinks a little more would be in order when someone dies as a result.

  10. - Stuff Happens - Monday, Jan 30, 17 @ 2:45 pm:

    @DanS24 — I thought the cyclist may have been breaking the law too, but then I looked it up:

    “A person propelling a bicycle upon and along a sidewalk, or across a roadway upon and along a crosswalk, shall have all the rights and duties applicable to a pedestrian under the same circumstances. “

  11. - Last Bull Moose - Monday, Jan 30, 17 @ 2:56 pm:

    Turning accidents into felonies is bad law. There should be some intent.

    Bicyclists should be required to stop before cycling into a crosswalk. Give the motorist a chance tostop.

  12. - Delimma - Monday, Jan 30, 17 @ 2:56 pm:

    So, a bicycle sees a car with its turn signal on, and at speeds far higher than a pedestrian cuts in front of the car. Who is at fault? A pedestrian cannot run in front of a turning car and claim the car was at fault.

  13. - A guy - Monday, Jan 30, 17 @ 2:57 pm:

    ==A guy is concerned about bogus penalties. According to the story “Burzynska lost her license for a period of time and had to pay $364 in fines and court costs.” Just guessing that Rep. Harris thinks a little more would be in order when someone dies as a result.===

    I’m not concerned with bogus penalties. The penalties should fit the crime. If the person died, they would be charged with Vehicular Homicide. The Crosswalk law would create a new layer of charges, where I’m not certain it’s necessary.
    In an opposite case example, where this approach does work I think, is on highways, where exceeding the speed limit in Work Zones or colliding with (injuring or killing a worker) has another level of penalties. These areas are extremely well marked.

  14. - Steve Rogers - Monday, Jan 30, 17 @ 3:00 pm:

    When I’m a pedestrian, I don’t understand why turning drivers get mad at me for crossing when I have the crosswalk signal. When I’m a driver, I don’t understand why pedestrians walk out right in front of me when I have the green light going straight. I’m not convinced a new law will solve the problem of a simple lack of common sense and courtesy.

  15. - MSIX - Monday, Jan 30, 17 @ 3:01 pm:

    =A person propelling a bicycle upon and along a sidewalk, or across a roadway upon and along a crosswalk, shall have all the rights and duties applicable to a pedestrian under the same circumstances.=

    I didn’t know that either. That’s problematic, though, as a bicyclist can be moving at 10MPH+ and be out in front of an oncoming car in the blink of an eye. You see it all the time at the U of I. Bicyclists just zoom across streets and expect cars to stop. To charge someone with a felony because a cyclist zoomed out in front of them at an intersection is ridiculous.

  16. - ArchPundit - Monday, Jan 30, 17 @ 3:08 pm:

    === pedestrian cannot run in front of a turning car and claim the car was at fault.

    Because someone is going to do that on a bicycle? Do you know how much it hurts?

  17. - ArchPundit - Monday, Jan 30, 17 @ 3:27 pm:

    ===Pedestrians should have to stop for cars, not the other way around.

    Well, the law and the entire infrastructure for traffic has been built around crosswalks providing safe walking spaces. What exactly is the harm of it? I’m always confused by the strong reaction against pedestrian facilities.

  18. - proudstatetrooper - Monday, Jan 30, 17 @ 3:30 pm:

    A friend of mine clipped a young man in a crosswalk. She was in the right turn lane with a red light. When the light turned green she turned right. The young man was hidden behind the utility pole when she turned. As she was about half way thru the turn she looked to the left to ensure there was no traffic at which time the young man stepped off the curb AGAINST THE NO WALK LIGHT and was struck. He rolled over the hood and fractured his lower leg. Even though witnesses told the police he walked against the light she was still issued a citation because the pedestrian ALWAYS has the right of way in a crosswalk. There was not much speed involved and insurance companies did their thing. It very well could have turned out much worse for the young man and horrible for the driver if this were law.

  19. - Plutocrat03 - Monday, Jan 30, 17 @ 3:36 pm:

    Yet another look at I care more than the other guy legislation.

    Plenty of laws on the books, we don’t need any more

  20. - Southern Illinois Bob - Monday, Jan 30, 17 @ 3:58 pm:

    It is my experience that most people are unaware of the laws concerning pedestrians in a marked crosswalk. Several years ago I stopped my car for a family that was attempting to cross the road in a marked crosswalk. The driver in the car behind me went into a fit of rage honking his horn and screaming at me because I stopped to let then cross. I have also been walking with the “walk” light and have been verbally abused by motorists making a right hand turn because they had to slow down to let me cross. I’m not sure whether it should be a felony if you hit a pedestrian, but it sure is dangerous to try to walk anywhere.

  21. - blue dog dem - Monday, Jan 30, 17 @ 3:59 pm:

    Pluto. I agree.

  22. - Rich Miller - Monday, Jan 30, 17 @ 4:08 pm:

    === I have a real problem with pedestrians having the right-of-way over vehicles===

    That comment says more about you than you might think.

  23. - Michael Westen - Monday, Jan 30, 17 @ 5:14 pm:

    Isn’t reckless driving a specific penalty?

  24. - Anon221 - Monday, Jan 30, 17 @ 5:14 pm:

    Another lesson we could learn in courtesy from our neighbors to the North. I was in Winnipeg once, and a “herd” of us Yanks stood waiting to cross a street at a crosswalk. A few Canadians smiled and gestured for us to cross from their car. That does not happen in Chicago. Although being in a herd helps to bull through some of those intersections.

  25. - Arthur Andersen - Monday, Jan 30, 17 @ 5:31 pm:

    The UIUC Campus is heavily marked with extra signage at crosswalks on primary streets.
    I had no idea there were not specific laws related to these situations. The bikers may not be aware of their legal status, but some of them roll through campus as if they are, pardon the expression, bulletproof.

  26. - DAK - Monday, Jan 30, 17 @ 5:52 pm:

    @Stuff Happens -
    The next section states “A person shall not ride a bicycle upon and along a sidewalk, or across a roadway upon and along a crosswalk, where such use of bicycles is prohibited by official traffic-control devices.”

    At least in Chicago, bicycles are prohibited from riding on the sidewalk unless a sign specifically permits it or it is a child 12 years or younger or an adult accompanying that child.

  27. - NoGifts - Monday, Jan 30, 17 @ 5:55 pm:

    DAK that’s right. An adult on a bicycle is driving a vehicle and is not a pedestrian.

  28. - the Cardinal - Monday, Jan 30, 17 @ 6:59 pm:

    I know that some towns dont mark them very at all and throw them up whereever. Maybe the State should regulate that first ? If you ride a bike on a non bike route You are a basically bound by the vehicle code and rules of the road. You are car for practicle purposes.

  29. - Payback - Tuesday, Jan 31, 17 @ 1:01 am:

    downstate commissioner @ 2:38 pm- I walk around the city of Chicago regularly and find that drivers routinely don’t slow down or stop in clearly painted crosswalks with flashing lights.

    I’m usually the last person to support more laws on the books for anything, but this may be a good idea. I don’t know what else will work to control the behavior of people who just have no respect for others because they feel bulletproof driving a four thousand pound vehicle.

    I think I can translate downstate (highway) commissioners’ remarks, since my family owns property in smalltownsville & farming area.
    Here we go:

    “(I) Don’t have a problem with crosswalks at intersections, (glad you think my Grandma should be able to cross the street without being run over) but all of a sudden,(for the first time in fifty years) we have these crosswalks popping up all over.(the accursed Chicago suburbanites are moving in around here and actually feel they should not be run over crossing the street)

    “Roads and streets (that I plow and pave) are made for vehicles;(like my monster truck with lift kit and loud exhaust) pedestrians are “permitted users”.(2nd class citizens that get in my way) I have a real problem with pedestrians (and recognizing the value of human life) having the right-of-way over vehicles.(I might actually have to slow down a bit)Pedestrians should have to stop for cars, not the other way around.(I’m the boss)

    Wow! Truly spoken with the entitled attitude of someone who drives everywhere for their entire life. Township Highway commissioners think they own the roads, not the taxpayers.

  30. - A Jack - Tuesday, Jan 31, 17 @ 9:23 am:

    With obesity being a national problem, we should be encouraging people to walk, instead of running them over. So I am in favor of this law.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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