You may have noticed since July throughout the City of Chicago, as part of an ongoing effort to increase pedestrian safety and reduce the number of crashes, the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) has begun installing signs at crosswalks that remind drivers of the state law that requires them to stop if pedestrians are in the crosswalk. CDOT records suggest that an average of 50 people die annually in accidents between autos and pedestrians. Recently the City of Chicago began implementation of the Department of Transportation’s long-term pedestrian plan. You may have noticed better marked crosswalks. This, and more than 250 other recommendations for long and short-term improvements, have been drawn up to support the nearly two-year-old Illinois state law that requires drivers to stop and not just yield at crosswalks when pedestrians are physically in them. Gov. Pat Quinn signed HB 43 into law requiring, among other things, that drivers to come to a complete stop for pedestrians in all crosswalks even when there is not a stop sign or traffic light. The penalty for failing to stop is a traffic citation ranging from of $50 to $500. The City Traffic Management Authority said pedestrians must also assume some responsibility; they are working on plans to improve pedestrian compliance with traffic laws. It is being stressed to traffic-control aides that they must do a better job of stopping pedestrians from crossing against traffic lights. Pedestrians do not have the automatic right-of-way. The law states that a person should not leave the curb or sidewalk if their movement constitutes an undue hazard. This means that if a vehicle is approaching at the posted legal speed limit, a pedestrian cannot step out into the street if the vehicle does not have adequate time to stop. This also means that drivers do not have to stop for people waiting at the curb, in order to let them cross if the traffic light is in favor of the driver.
Illinois law has long had a law regarding speed limits in school zones. The law requires motor vehicles to operate, on a school day when children are present, at a speed of no more than 20 miles per hour while passing through designated school zones. In February of 2012, Governor Quinn approved Chicago Mayor Emanuel’s request to use cameras across Chicago to cite drivers speeding in school zones and fine them as much as $100 while promoting child safety. In April of 2012, the Chicago City Council approved the Mayor’s plan to place speed cameras near schools and parks across the City. Enforcement was to go into effect on July 1 with first time offenders receiving a warning for up to 30 days after the cameras were turned on. The number of cameras was limited to 300, down from an estimated 360 and the hours of operation for school zone cameras was reduced to 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays. The fine for going 6 to 10 mph over the speed limit was also reduced to $35, down from the original $50. While the original law remains in effect, the cameras have hit a snag as bidders answering a proposal to provide the cameras were confronted by a 30+ year old opinion from the Illinois Attorney Generals’ Office (Number S-706) which stated, in part, that the vehicle speed limit of 20 miles per hour was enforceable “only during school days while the vehicle is passing a school zone or is traveling on a street on or across which children pass going to or from school, and then only when children are physically present on such street or are outside the school building in a school zone. The 20 mile speed limit is not in effect when the children are inside the school building even though school is in session.” This opinion has forced potential camera suppliers to consider how they would operate robotic equipment that would simultaneously capture a speeding car and its license plate, as well a child who could be football field’s distance away. The Chicago Tribune reported that the new cameras were set to be installed in November but City officials admit that the necessary legal clarification may delay the program until sometime in 2013. Whether you agree with the use of remote speeding cameras or not, it is important to remember that there is a current[READ MORE…]
In the wake of the scandal, trial, and subsequent conviction for sexual abuse of Coach Jerry Sandusky, schools are looking for ways to prevent these occurrences at all levels of education. Erin’s law has been enacted in four states, including Illinois, and introduced by the legislature in another eight. The law, named for author and advocate Erin Merryn, requires school districts to create, implement, and teach age appropriate curriculum to educate students about sexual abuse. Erin believed that sexual abuse education in schools serving pre-k through 5th grade students has proven to be an effective method for preventing children from falling prey to, or remaining quiet about, sexual abuse. Signed into law by Governor Quinn in 2011, the Illinois law provides, among other things, training for school personnel on the warning signs of sexual abuse, as well as educational information for parents or guardians. It suggests that schools adopt policies for assistance, intervention, resources, and counseling for any child who is a victim of child abuse. Erin Merryn has made it her mission to take Erin’s law to the U.S. Congress and have it signed into law by the president. The National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System have reported a decline in child sexual abuse. Policy experts suggest that the decline may be related to more aggressive prosecution and incarceration policies, as well as growing public awareness about the problem.
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