Pedestrian Safety Is Main Concern During Halloween

Years ago (at least when
I was a kid) there always seemed to be a frenzy in the media about the dangers
of tainted Halloween candy. There were reports of poisoned candy and even stories of people
inserting needles into candy. In fact, I remember my parents always checking
our candy before the letting us dig in. The fact is, most of those reports were
false or at the very most, overblown.  

Today, if you talk to
traffic safety experts and police officers, they will all tell you that the
main concern during Halloween is pedestrian safety.  According to an Associated
 article, the U.S. Department
of Transportation reported that in four out of six years between 2006 and 2010,
more pedestrians under the age of 21 were killed by cars on Oct. 31 than on
Oct. 30 or Nov. 1.  Most cases involved pedestrians hit while crossing
streets or walking along roads; one case resulted in a drunk driving arrest. In
another case, parents were injured along with their child.

The best way to protect your children is to be vigilant and
accompany them while they trick or treat. For those who have kids that are a
little older and want to go out on their own, it is recommended to give their
kids a flashlight or glow stick to carry, or add glow-in-the-dark necklaces or
reflective tape to costumes. Another suggestion would be to stick to an area
you are familiar with or even go somewhere indoors like a shopping mall. 

Have fun with your kids on Halloween but be careful because there
is always a lot of traffic out that night.

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The Nation Highway
Traffic Safety Administration (“NHTSA”) announced this week that they
are issuing a federal grant in the amount of $550,000 to police departments in Massachusetts
and Connecticut allowing them to crack down on texting and driving. Police
officials throughout the country have discussed how difficult it is to actually
catch someone who is texting and driving. This new grant will pay for officers
whose sole focus will be staking out drivers who are typing on their phones and
driving. The plan is for the officers to patrol in unmarked or undercover
vehicles and place themselves on overpasses. 

Currently it is illegal
to text and drive in 38 states and in 10 states it is illegal to use any type
of hand held device while driving. Although this is a positive step to curbing
the dangers that come from texting and driving, the question remains whether
this will be enough. I would like to know what the typical punishment or fine
that comes along with a texting and driving ticket. As I have written numerous
times in the past: without higher fines and stricter punishment, it will be
hard to convince drivers to change their habits.

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Illinois Governor Signs ‘Julie’s Law’ To Prevent And Punish Excessive Speeding

Last year a Lemont,
Illinois teenager, Julie
Gorczynski, was
tragically killed in an auto accident when she was struck by a driver who was
driving 76 mph in a 40 mph zone. That driver was recently sentenced to 6 months
in jail for vehicular manslaughter.

obvious reasons, there was an outrage following this accident about punishment
involved for excessive speeding. Before going into the specifics of the new law, it must
be pointed out that 2 years ago Governor Quinn signed a bill into law which
eliminated court supervision for drivers who are convicted of or plead out to
speeding 40 mph over the speed limit. That same law also made a driving 30 mph
over the speed limit a class B misdemeanor. After 
Julie Gorczynski’s car accident, a new bill was sponsored
and eventually signed into law in July by Governor Quinn. This new law
prohibits judges from granting court supervision to anyone charged with going
30 mph or more over the speed limit on highways and 25 mph over or more in
urban areas.

legislation addresses motorists who are pulled over for driving more than 25
miles over the speed limit in urban areas and more than 30 miles an hour over
on highways,” said bill sponsor, Rep. Sidney Mathias (R-Arlington
Heights). “It is my hope that the more stringent penalties will serve as a
deterrent for motorists who put their lives and the lives of others at risk by
driving too fast.”

It is unfortunate that
a sad case like this young girl’s had to bring about this legislative change,
but hopefully it will make drivers think twice about speeding at excessive
speeds. These are the same types of measures I have been pushing for regarding texting and driving. Why not make texting and driving a Class A misdemeanor if there is a car accident or someone is injured?

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Chicago Launches First Pedestrian Safety Plan

Per the Chicago
, the city will be launching its first city-wide pedestrian safety
plan. I have written about this subject numerous times on this site, and about
the effort Rahm Emanuel has taken to make the streets safer for pedestrians.
Earlier the city implemented the controversial speeding cameras located in
school zones. The city also recently installed stop signs at many pedestrian
crossings on busy streets. Last year the city enacted stiffer penalties for
drivers who ignore pedestrian cameras. 

According to the Chicago
Department of Transportation (CDOT), the goal of this initiative is to improve safety for children and seniors
around schools and parks, improving access to transit, safer
crossings at intersections and increasing space for pedestrians.

The hundreds of
recommendations include better-marked crosswalks, the establishment of
pedestrian islands in the middle of multilane streets, better signals and beacons,
and pedestrian countdown timers at crossings. Other long-term improvements
discussed in the plan include staggered midblock bump-outs on residential
streets to slow traffic.

crosswalks were among the first changes, CDOT Commissioner Gabe Klein said,
largely because the department began to weave in the new pedestrian plan in time for
already-scheduled construction projects.

The crosswalks have big
rungs across the walkway for higher visibility and are made of a reflective
material, Klein said. More than 100 such crosswalks were installed in 2012,
Klein said.

Pavement markings — on
crosswalks and stop lines for vehicles — are faded across Chicago,
and Klein said millions would be spent this year repainting such markings so
they are visible to drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists.

The overall goal by the
city is to decrease the number of pedestrian deaths to zero within ten years.
This is a lofty goal, but I take my hat off to Mayor Emanuel and to the city
for taking these initial steps to make our streets safer for pedestrians. 

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