New law in effect to make pedestrians safer

Look both ways before you cross the street.

This statement may seem elementary. However, with so many different distractions on pedestrians’ minds — getting to class on time, texting, listening to iPods — looking out for cars is usually far from it.

“The most simple thing you can do is pay attention,” said University police Lieutenant Skip Frost. “I can’t tell you how many avoidable accidents that occur.”

Frost said especially during the first weeks of school University police will be on the lookout for jaywalking, which has a $75 fine.

New street signs have been installed on campus at some of the major crosswalks without street lights because of a new Illinois law that requires cars to come to a full stop when people are in crosswalks without a stop light.

Frost said he thought the old law caused some confusion to both drivers and pedestrians, and the new law and signs will help with clarity.

Frost said if a person steps out into the crosswalk and is able to make eye contact with a driver that has time to stop, the driver is at fault.

“But most people don’t even look and honestly believe that they should have the right away,” Frost said. “It seems that some people believe that stepping into the crosswalk is this invisible force field.”

Pedestrians are in violation if a car is driving the speed limit and stopping would cause an undue hazard. Frost said enforcement of the law is necessary.

“Officers get berated all the time by people asking, ‘Don’t you have something better to do than catch people for jaywalking?’ and the answer is no because public safety is our job,” Frost said.