URBANA – Police are giving warning tickets to pedestrians and drivers on campus who violate traffic laws, in the wake of a fatal bus-pedestrian accident almost two weeks ago.
The increased attention on traffic safety comes after Sarah Channick, a UI freshman, was struck and killed by a Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District bus on Sept. 29 at the corner of Sixth and Chalmers streets. University of Illinois, city and MTD officials are discussing ways they can make campus streets safer, such as reducing the speed limits to 20 mph. The MTD has already asked its bus drivers to slow to 20 mph.
The campus police stepped up enforcement efforts beginning last Saturday.
"All we're doing right now is trying to get the education out there to let people know we take this seriously," said Lt. Skip Frost of the UI police. "Pedestrians have rights and responsibilities they need to adhere to, to increase everyone's safety. We're trying to get the word out we've let this slide longer than we should have. There's going to be a period of uncomfortableness."
Frost said pedestrians don't always have the right-of-way. They may not walk into the street, even at a crosswalk, if they would be walking into the path of a car.
"You can't be 10 feet from an intersection and walk out in front of a moving car and just because you're in a crosswalk expect a car traveling the legal speed limit to stop," Frost said. "The message we're trying to get out is, you are responsible for your safety."
Frost said police are concentrating on pedestrians who cross the street against a "Don't Walk" sign or who cross in front of cars at unmarked intersections, and on drivers who are speeding or who don't yield to pedestrians in crosswalks. He said police will be giving warnings for all but the most flagrant violations for the next few weeks, but then they will begin writing tickets.
"This is going to be a priority for quite some time," Frost said. "It's going to take everybody to start being a little more courteous and paying a little more attention. There's no better way to do that than educating everybody on what the law is and then enforcing that to make sure we gain compliance."