Many students out of step with pedestrian safety laws

Jaywalking is a term most students are familiar with, but University police Capt. Skip Frost wants to make sure students know when they can cross the street.

The Illinois Compiled Statutes Vehicle Code states that a pedestrian may not cross the street on a red light and must allow enough time for a vehicle to pass when there are no street lights. However, when it comes to giving out tickets, it’s not as simple to determine whether a pedestrian is in the wrong.

Frost said many pedestrians think if an accident occurs while crossing an intersection, the pedestrian would have the winning case. However, when jaywalking is taken into account, the case may go to the driver.

“There are a lot of misconceptions that people believe that you can step out in front of a car traveling in a legal speed limit, and as soon as you step into that crosswalk, you have the right-of-way. That is not correct,” he said. “If you cross in a marked crosswalk and there is no signal, you have to allow enough time for that vehicle to respond to your presence.”

Frost said other misconceptions include walking through an intersection when the “don’t walk” sign is flashing, even when there are no cars approaching.

He said in some intersections, the crosswalk has a countdown, but many pedestrians do not know that once the countdown begins, it is illegal to walk through the intersection even when there are as many as 10 to 15 seconds left.

Lt. Bryant Seraphin of the Urbana Police Department said jaywalking occurs most often when there is more foot traffic. He said game days at Memorial Stadium make up a lot of these instances.

However, Frost said jaywalking tickets are not issued as much as traffic tickets.

Lt. Jim Clark of the Champaign Police Department said the intersection of Sixth and Green streets has one of the highest incidence of jaywalking.

Clark said the main problems come from intersections that have a high amount of pedestrians.

Clark said student safety is the police’s top priority rather than watching them to see if they are obeying the law.

“We don’t want to write tickets; we want students to be safe,” Clark said. “We want to educate students as far as crossing the road and following the signals.”

_Carina can be reached at [email protected]_