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How Can Pedestrians in Chicago Stay Safe?

How Can Pedestrians in Chicago Stay Safe?There is lots to see in Chicago. From Navy Pier, to the Art Institute, to our famous Millennium Park, our city offers attractions for tourists to the city. With our wide variety of shops, restaurants, museums, and hidden gems such as Fat Johnnie’s, there is something to do for everyone, including our native Chicagoans. Chicago is also a city that offers jobs to over a million people, and is home to over 500 schools. It would make sense that Chicago is alive with people on their way to work and school, tour buses, bicyclists, and pedestrians out shopping, sight-seeing, or simply taking their lunch break.

If you find yourself walking on the Chicago streets, you should be aware of the laws governing pedestrians and their rights when crossing streets. One might think that because pedestrians have the right of way (which is not always true), that they can cross the street wherever; on the other hand, pedestrians need to be careful when crossing, just in case a negligent driver is not paying attention or someone has made the poor decision to drive drunk. At the end of the day, if you’re a pedestrian involved in an accident, it is important that you seek legal counsel, because the laws concerning pedestrian accidents can be complex.

What are Chicago’s pedestrian laws?

When it comes to pedestrians, the laws which apply to them can be confusing if just because there are certain conditions that must be met in certain circumstances. The laws themselves are not difficult to understand, but as a pedestrian, you need to know when it is okay to cross where there is no sidewalk, at what point do you cross, and who has the right of way when you are crossing the street where there is no crosswalk.

Some crucial Chicago pedestrian laws and ordinances to know include:

  • If there is a pedestrian bridge or walkway in the section of road you are crossing, you are required to cross there.
  • If there’s a crosswalk, you are required to use it to cross the street.
  • If you are attempting to cross a highway or other limited access roadway, you may only cross at marked crossing areas.
  • Pedestrians may not pass through, around, or over crossing gates or barriers while such gates or barriers are in use (being closed, closed, or being opened).
  • If you are crossing the road where there is no crosswalk, the right-of-way belongs to the vehicles.
  • Do not step off the curb and into the street, or cross in front of a vehicle which is so close that it is impossible for the driver to yield.
  • Pedestrians must abide by the traffic signals if there is no signage at the crosswalk.
  • Pedestrians must always use due care.
  • When pedestrians are in a crosswalk, vehicles must yield right-of-way.
  • If there is no traffic signal, sign, or traffic director, vehicles must stop for pedestrians who are trying to cross the road on the side of the street that the vehicle is traveling.
  • If a vehicle is exiting an alley or driveway which causes them to drive onto and over a sidewalk, they must yield right-of-way to anyone using the sidewalk that might be considered to be in the area of collision.

As a pedestrian, you should always be cautious when considering crossing the street, whether there is a crosswalk or not. Cars are much larger and heavier than a person alone, and even if you have right-of-way, a car can still cause you severe and catastrophic injuries, or can even be fatal. On the other hand, drivers need to be aware of their surroundings, especially in areas where there are crosswalks and foot traffic. We should all remember that people are too often unpredictable.

What are the causes of pedestrian accidents?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2020, more than 7,000 pedestrians were killed in America by motor vehicles. The CDC offers some more staggering statistics, supplying that “one in six people who died in crashes in 2020 were pedestrians,” and that “there were also an estimated 104,000 emergency department visits of pedestrians treated for non-fatal crash-related injuries in 2020.”

There are many factors that increase the risk of pedestrian accidents, including:

  • Drunk driving. In 2019, alcohol was a factor in almost half of the pedestrian accidents. Perhaps surprisingly, drunk drivers only accounted for around 13% of those accidents, while 32% involved a drunk pedestrian.
  • Speeding. When cars are traveling at high speeds, it allows for less time and space to slow down for a person crossing the street. It also increases the likelihood for more severe injuries.
  • Lack of crosswalks. More pedestrian accidents happen in urban areas where there are no or few crosswalks (as this is where cars are more likely to be traveling faster).
  • Unmarked crosswalks. According to Illinois Legal Aid Online, “at an intersection, an unmarked crosswalk is basically the imaginary extension of a sidewalk across the street. This is true, even if the sidewalk doesn’t continue on the other side. That means an unmarked crosswalk requires some kind of sidewalk near the intersection.” Simply put, it is an area where there would be a crosswalk, but there is not one marked. If a driver is unaware of the existence of the unmarked crosswalk, they may not be considering pedestrians in that area.

What should I do if I am hit by a car?

What you do depends on how severely you are hurt, whether you were with someone, and whether the driver stayed at the site of the accident.

If you are injured in any way, your first priority is to seek medical care. Pedestrian accidents tend to be more severe than others, as pedestrians do not have the same protection afforded to them, and as they are smaller and lighter than vehicles. If you are traveling with someone (and they are uninjured) they can assist you in getting the identification information from the driver. If the driver who hit you does not stop when the accident happens, then that is classified as a hit-and-run. In these cases, you should call the police and file an accident report. Try to note (if you can) the make and model of the car, its color, and any other identifying markers on the vehicle. Gathering witnesses of the accident is also important so that they can offer their own insights on the collision.

While there are ordinances and laws that apply to pedestrians, it is still important that if you are involved in a pedestrian accident, there is a good chance that you can seek compensation for the injuries you received from the accident. At Gainsberg Law, we have car accident lawyers who can talk with you, and determine whether you have a case against the person who caused your injuries. We can help to gather evidence, and use our knowledge of the legal system to ensure that you do not have to pay financially for your pain and suffering. If you have been hit by a car, call us or use our contact page to schedule a free consultation.