UI police give warnings to get people to think about safety

UI police give warnings to get people to think about safety

University of Illinois police have been handing out warnings to pedestrians and motorists who violate laws that might affect safety.

Lt. "Skip" Frost said the "welcome back" notices are a reminder to everyone to be more safe.

"Safety is everyone's responsibility," Frost said. "We realize we have a transient population and have to re-teach about safety issues."

Pedestrians are being reminded about jaywalking, waiting for traffic signals and watching for vehicles, he said.

"As far as motorists, we want to remind people, when you drive on campus, expect the unexpected," Frost said.

UI patrol officers have done a good job of cracking down on speeding, drunken driving and other motor vehicle violations, he said, and now, as students have come back to campus, the police are focused on vehicle-pedestrian safety issues.

In the first two weeks since fall classes began, campus police had more than 150 traffic contacts with pedestrians or drivers. Most resulted in verbal warnings and explanations of what the laws are, he said.

About 50 written warnings were given so far. One ticket was issued for a pedestrian/vehicle safety issue; three people were arrested for driving under the influence; three people were given tickets for other alcohol offenses and four were ticketed for driving violations.

"We really try to focus on educational enforcement to begin with," Frost said. "We will become more stringent in our enforcement once we feel we have reached as many people as we can with the safety message regarding pedestrian/vehicle rules and responsibility."

The main thing everyone can do to be more safe is pay attention, whether driving or walking through campus, Frost said.

Crosswalks, signs and redesign of streets and sidewalks have all been implemented with the aim of making pedestrians more safe.

"But we can't protect people from themselves," Frost said.

"When a sign says 'Don't Walk,' that means don't walk," he said. "You are violating the law when you do and you are placing yourself in harm's way. ... People who dart out are in violation."

Many students and other pedestrians seem to think that they have the right of way simply by stepping into the street. That's also wrong and dangerous, he said.

"A pedestrian must cross at a crosswalk to have the right of way," Frost said. "Crossing a street anywhere other than a marked crosswalk or intersection means that the pedestrian must yield the right of way."

Also, pedestrians only have the right of way when the have "established" themselves in the crosswalk, not standing on the curb by the crosswalk.

"Bottom line, you have to be standing in the crosswalk, not crossing against any signals and allowing for vehicles to have plenty of time to yield to you," Frost said.

Frost said pedestrians have to pay attention and use good judgment. It should be obvious, he said, whether they have adequate time for a vehicle to stop and yield the right of way.

"If there is any doubt in your mind whether or not the car will stop and yield for you, stay on the curb," Frost said. "Just because you have the right of way does not mean a particular car will stop for you.

"You cannot step out in front of car that they have to slam on brakes to stop for you," Frost said. "If it is traveling the speed limit, you are in violation, not the vehicle."

Frost said bicycles are a popular mode of transportation on campus, but bike riders need to obey vehicle laws.

"When you are riding a bike on the street, you are obliged to follow the law, like any other vehicle," Frost said.

Not stopping at stop signs, riding the wrong way down one-way streets, not making a signal when making a turn all are violations, he said. He also reminded that state law requires lights on bicycles after dusk.

Pedestrian safety also includes watching out for buses. Students have been killed or injured in recent years after being hit by Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District buses.

Frost said MTD officials have actively participated in safety campaigns and have installed additional lighting and beepers to make buses more visible and audible.

Drivers have a hard time seeing pedestrians when they are too close to a bus, he said.

"Stand back away from curbs and don't run in front of them or too close to the sides," Frost said.

TRAFFIC SAFETY RULES AND TIPS

Motorists

–Watch out for pedestrians and bicycles.

–When following bicyclists, give them plenty of room and be prepared to stop quickly.

– Be prepared to yield right of way to pedestrians.

–Yield the right of way to a bicyclist just as you would to another vehicle.

Pedestrians

Drivers and pedestrians are both responsible for traffic safety.

–In the UI campus zone, "Yield to Pedestrian" signs have been erected in many places to alert drivers to high pedestrian traffic areas. However, those signs do not give pedestrians any more right of way than at other intersections.

–Watch for cars and buses to turn at intersections.

Bicyclists

On most roadways, bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as other users:

– Travel in the same direction as vehicles.

– Travel just to the right of faster-moving traffic. However, certain hazards, such as rough surfaces, debris, drainage grates or a narrow traffic lane may require bicyclists to move toward the center of the lane.

Traffic signals, walk lightsand crossings

Pedestrians must yield the right of way to drivers by obeying traffic signals, observing walk lights and using crosswalks.

– WALK (constant): Pedestrians facing the signal may cross the roadway in the direction of the signal.

– DON'T WALK (flashing): Pedestrians may not start entering the crosswalk. Anyone who has already partly completed a cross may continue to a sidewalk or safety island.

– DON'T WALK (constant): Pedestrians may not enter the roadway.

– YELLOW LIGHT (constant): Pedestrians may not cross unless directed by a pedestrian control sign or police officer.

Crossing a road

– When crossing at any place other than a marked or unmarked crosswalk, pedestrians must give right of way to drivers. This includes between closely spaced intersections with traffic signals.

– Pedestrians must yield right of way if crossing a street outside a marked crosswalk.

Source: Illinois Rules of the Road and University of Illinois police.

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