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Illinois city hopes to upgrade pedestrian traffic rules

Waukegan city lawmakers are considering a change in local traffic laws affecting drivers and pedestrians. The alterations, aligning with the current Illinois Vehicle Code, would further protect people from becoming injured in a crosswalk and punish impaired pedestrians who wander into traffic.

City rules currently direct drivers to slow down or stop to yield to pedestrians at crossing areas with no traffic signals. Stronger language in the new legislation orders drivers to stop and yield, eliminating the option to reduce speed. Proponents hope the measure reduces pedestrian accidents.

The ordinance proposition also introduces a $100 fine for on-road pedestrians who are intoxicated by drugs or alcohol. The proposal considers an intoxicated pedestrian a road hazard that must be confined to a sidewalk. Any pedestrian who suddenly walks, jumps or runs into the path of a moving automobile also can be cited.

Pedestrians would be penalized $250 for passing around a railroad-crossing gate during activation. The fine would jump to $500 for getting caught violating the rule more than once.

Pedestrians who disobey traffic control devices and fail to yield to siren-activated emergency vehicles also would be breaking the law.

The rules governing disabled pedestrians could be expanded to include people with all clearly visible disabilities. The nearly 40-year-old city ordinance on the books limits special pedestrian protection to hearing and sight impaired individuals.

Disabled persons in Waukegan might also be able to cross streets legally in places without marked crosswalks, provided they yield the right-of-way to moving traffic.

A judiciary committee will review the traffic law changes before the measure moves to Waukegan City Council.

People often assume that a pedestrian who is injured or killed in a car accident is automatically innocent of neglect. That is not always the case, when the pedestrian breaks state or local traffic laws.

Negligence must be proven in a civil court for personal injury or wrongful death damages to be granted by a jury.

Source: newssun.suntimes.com, "Waukegan is addressing pedestrian-traffic issues," Dan Moran, Oct. 29, 2012

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