The number of pedestrian fatalities jumped by almost three percent in 2019 and another 4.8 percent in 2020, to a total last year of 6,412. The increase surprised even the experts and is among reasons why The National Road Safety Foundation established a National Pedestrian Safety Month (NPSM). The foundation’s website offers a number of programs to promote driver and pedestrian safety in communities.
Driver distraction, impaired driving and speeding are contributing factors to the increase in pedestrian-related accidents and deaths. Some responsibility falls on the pedestrians themselves who legally owe a duty of care to others on the roads and sidewalks. Michelle Anderson, NRSF director of operations, says, “All of us need to focus on our surroundings, whether we’re walking, cycling or driving.”
Illinois Pedestrian Statutes
The Illinois legislature has passed several laws outlining the rights and responsibilities of pedestrians. If a driver hits a pedestrian who was violating one of these statutes, then the law can be used to show that the pedestrian failed to exercise reasonable care.
Pedestrians’ duties include:
- Obeying all traffic signals;
- Avoid crossing the road at a right angle or taking the shortest route possible when crossing;
- Avoiding crossing suddenly in front of oncoming traffic;
- Using sidewalks if available, and if not, walking on the left side of the road.
Chicago Pedestrian Plan
Chicago has long been considered a great walking city. To maintain that reputation, the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT), in coordination with the Mayor’s Pedestrian Advisory Council (MPAC), collaborated on the 2012 Chicago Pedestrian Plan to identify opportunities and initiatives that enhance Chicago’s walking environment.
The plan includes a Children’s Safety Zone Program to protect children and other pedestrians by reminding motorists to obey speed limit laws, especially near Chicago parks or schools. Chicago also has a SAFE Ambassadors program whereby Ambassadors travel throughout the city to deliver safety presentations, distribute safety-oriented literature and conduct safe bicycling demonstrations at parks, schools, on-street events and other locations.