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Waukegan is addressing pedestrian-traffic issues

Updated: December 28, 2012 1:15AM

An overhaul of the City of Waukegan ordinances regarding pedestrians in traffic would enact more strict protection for people using a crosswalk, and create a $100 fine for those who walk in the street while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

The revisions are slated to go before the City Council’s Judiciary Committee on Monday, and the crosswalk amendments would fall in line with language added to the Illinois Vehicle Code in 2010.

The current Waukegan ordinance regarding crosswalks states that “when traffic-control signals are not in place or not in operation, the driver of a vehicle shall yield the right-of-way, slowing down or stopping if need be, to so yield to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within a crosswalk when the pedestrian is upon the half of the roadway upon which the vehicle is traveling, or when the pedestrian is approaching so closely from the opposite half of the roadway as to be in danger.”

The revised version would remove the phrase “slowing down or stopping if need be” and add “shall stop and yield.” Pedestrians are still not allowed to “suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety and walk or run into the path of a moving vehicle which is so close as to constitute an immediate hazard.”

The $100 fine would be applied to “a pedestrian who is under the influence of alcohol or any drug to a degree which renders himself a hazard shall not walk or be upon a highway except on a sidewalk.” Also, any pedestrian crossing through an activated railroad gate would be subject to fines of at least $250 for a first offense and $500 for subsequent violations.

Another change centers on the crossing of roadways by the disabled. Under the current ordinance, which dates to 1974, drivers must yield to any “blind, hearing impaired or physically handicapped (pedestrian) carrying a clearly visible white cane or accompanied by a support or guide dog.”

The amendment would change the language to “any pedestrian with clearly visible disabilities.” Another change proposes that pedestrians with disabilities may cross a roadway at any point rather than only at a marked crosswalk, but in those cases, they must yield the right-of-way to vehicles.

Also, language would be added that would require pedestrians to “obey the instructions of any official traffic control device specifically applicable to him, unless otherwise directed by a police officer.”

Pedestrians would also be required to yield the right-of-way to emergency vehicles that have their sirens activated.

The Judiciary Committee is scheduled to review the proposed amendments on Monday at 5 p.m., and recommended action could be forwarded to the full council for action next month.

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