Evanston police say they issued nearly 500 citations to drivers in just over three weeks last month as part of a pedestrial safety initiative approved by the City Council

While the crackdown was designed to target motorists who fail to yield for pedestrians in crosswalks, officers found most drivers were yielding — but many of them were driving distracted — talking or texting on their cell phones.

That was reflected in count of citations issued — 217 for talking or texting on a cell phone compared to just 12 for crosswalk violations.

Officers spent 217 hours monitoring 10 crosswalks that draw the most complaints from citizens and 44 others the officers identified as needing attention.

Other citations they issued included 123 for failure to wear a seat belt, 30 for speeding, 41 for lack of insurance, nine for not having a valid drivers license,one for driving under the influence and 49 for various other offenses.

Officers say they also noted several situations in which pedestrians entered crosswalks without first checking for oncoming traffic, or were talking on their cell phone, crossing in the middle of the street, or crossing at a signalized crossing against a “Don’t Walk” light.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. Bravo, Evanston police!

    Bravo, Evanston police! I can't tell you how many times drivers have failed to yield when I am crossing in a crosswalk, even with two young children in tow!

  2. Officers say they also noted

    "Officers say they also noted several situations in which pedestrians entered crosswalks without first checking for oncoming traffic, or were talking on their cell phone, crossing in the middle of the street, or crossing at a signalized crossing against a "Don't Walk" light."


    So, did the cops issue the pedestrians tickets like they're supposed to?  That behavior is as much a violation of the law as talking on a cell phone, or not waering a seat belt

  3. No tickets for

    No tickets for jay-walking?  No tickets for bicyclists disobeying traffic laws?  Selective enforcement anyone?

  4. What about bikes ?

    Except for two days this summer, I've not seen the police giving tickets.  Everyday bikes speed by on the sidewalk on northside of Burger-King and on Orrington even in front of the hotel—that one is hard to understand how they can be so stupid.

    Sherman from Clark to Church is also very bad, esp. with the outdoor seating there.

    1. Evanston’s Annual ‘Back to Square One’

      Every late summer and early fall brings with it a new crop of NU students who have brought their bikes with them for transportation while in Evanston. They ride them without helmets, and on the sidewalks and the wrong way down one-way streets like Church, Sherman, and Davis. Then there are the local folks–who only ride their bikes on weekends and for short trips and errands–who don't understand why they (and especially their kids) can't ride on the sidewalks, especially since they are being energy-effiicient and ecology-minded, et cetera.

      Anonymous, please get this in your head: This annual influx of new and uninformed college kids, combined with the dilettante local cyclers, pretty much means that short of  a Gestapo-like enforcement by the EPD–which most citizens and NU would not allow–there will always be cyclists flagrantly flaunting the posted signs about riding on the sidewalks. Learn to choose your battles, because this issue really isn't a priority among our cops, nor our community.

      1. Ignorance of law no excuse

        Ignorance of the law is no exciuse, remember that? Perhaps NU should give the Illinois and Evanston traffic laws along w/all the other 'rules and regs' they get when they enroll.  And NU should boot out anyone who does not know how to cross a street.

        The students cross Sheridan in the middle of the block. against the lights and dart into traffic…Not knowing the traffic laws and how to cross a street shows how really stupid some of the students are.

  5. Thank You Officers!

    "217 for talking or texting on a cell phone"

    Can't tell you the number of times I've seen drivers talking and texting on cell phones even after the law was passed. I am very happy to read that they have taken a more aggressive stance of catching these violators. Thank you so much. This will make our streets a lot safer.

  6. Thank you, Evanston Police Department

    I've nearly been hit by a car at crosswalks several times … by drivers with phones in their hands. Thank you, EPD, for finally cracking down on these scofflaws. Drivers so distracted by their (self) important phone calls while driving are much more of a danger to pedestrians and other drivers than j-walkers or even cyclists.

  7. Bicyclists ticketed?

    How many bicyclists were ticketed?  How many bicyclists were ticketed over 12 y.o. for riding on the side walk?  How man bicyclists were ticketed for going through stop signs?  On any given moring 10-20 bicyclists blow through stop signs on Judson  also turning left from Main street to Judson.  When a stop sign is pointed out, they just laugh. 10-20 bicyclist citattions for running stop signs on Judson crossing Keeney, Kedzie, Main and fiurther north could bring Evanston some big bucks.

    1. Keep cyclists or pedestrians safe from drivers-don’t ticket them

      Do not ticket users of human-powered transit–encourage walking and bicycling. Better yet, do as Holland does, and automatically ticket any driver involved in a car-bicyclist or car-pedestrian crash. On top of all that, reduce all street speeds in Evanston to 30 mph or less. That alone would end this carping about scofflaw cylists and peds…

      Exactly why should bicyclists and pedestrians be ticketed??? Because they get in the way of drivers? Because drivers feel perenially entitled to the speed that is so easily achieved in a car? Bicyclists and pedestrians are the most vulnerable users of the road, and do not cause the injuries and fatalities* that car drivers do. Additionally, if all those pedestrians and bicyclists you wish to ticket drove cars, they'd still get in your way.

      Or do you just think being law abiding is of utmost importance, no matter what cultural assumptions inform the laws?   traffic laws are written by, for and because of cars–see the injury and death statistics cited below. What percent of trips are made by bicycle / on foot, and what percent of traffic related injuries and fatalities are cused by errant peds and cyclists?? Zero percent?  At the very least, while you're complaining about jaywalkers & cyclists, how about  also complaining about the drunk drivers, the distracted drivers, the speeding drivers, etc. who are actually killing Evanstonians.

      [*According to Transportation for America, between 2000 and 2009, "more than 47,700 pedestrians were killed in the United States, the equivalent of a jumbo jet full of passengers crashing roughly every month. On top of that, more than 688,000 pedestrians were injured over the decade, a number equivalent to a pedestrian being struck by a car or truck every 7 minutes." No wonder people are afraid to do naything BUT drive.]

      1. Don’t ticket them

        Let us go further. Since these no-car people — or shall we say demigods — are so beyond the mere mere drivers. Let us absolve them of any laws. Let them ride on Ridge, where they are not allowed because of concern for their safety. Free them from traffic signals. Better yet, increase car fees and taxes and give these worthy souls an entitlement.. After all this is Evanston.

      2. So bicyclist should be above the law

        So  bicyclist  should be above the law.  I've had hordes of bicyclists come at me from the wrong side of the road on a curve … and yell at me … and that's OK?  And traffic laws are for TRAFFIC of which bicycling is becoming more and more a huge part of it in this area.  I say ticket everyone who breaks the traffic laws … truck drivers, motorists, bicyclists, skate-boarders and pedestrians.

        Traffic laws are for EVERY ONE'S safety.

      3. Bicyclists should not be

        Bicyclists should not be allowed on the road. They do do pay any form of road tax whether it be of the gasoline or vehicle registration nature. 

      4. Anonymous, I suspect that you

        Anonymous, I suspect that you will discount my comment but you need to realize that by far the vast majority of drivers are trying hard not to hit pedestrians and cyclists.  In order to do that it is essential that drivers must be able to count on others who share the road following the rules.  When pedestrians and cyclists behave in unpredictable ways, drivers must react very quickly to avoid disaster.  

        If you are a non driver you may not realize that due to the laws of physics, it is not possible for a car to stop instantaneously, nor are fast stops desirable since the action must be repeated by all of the cars following -otherwise an accident will result.  

        That in a nutshell is why traffic laws apply to everyone who uses the road.  It is simply not fair for any individual to selfishly create a hazard which others may suffer from solely because they refuse to recognize the validity of reasonable restraints on their freedom of action.  

    2. “But officer, look at…”

      I'm guessing "Anonymous" is just reiterating the lecture-rant he or she gave the Evanston cop who issued them a ticket for not giving pedestrians the right-of-way while yapping on their cell phone while driving.

    3. Just a week ago while

      Just a week ago while traveling on Sheridan at Keeney ave, I had to suddenly stop for a bicyclist who breezed right through his stop sign, eastbound on Keeney.  I honked my horn as I came to a stop.  

      His only response was to flip me off and point at the "State Law" sign on the corner.  I had to laugh at his total ignorance of traffic laws, but it's worrisome that unless the police take some steps to bring this situation under control, there will eventually be some bad accidents involving cyclists around town (since they clearly have begun to believe that they are pedestrians – with special privileges).   

  8. Cost, and value of using the police resources?

    I was on the one side of the cross walk crossing central street one morning and a police car on the oppose side, went by me and did not stop, another time a public official ( unnamed ) went by me in her enviromental friendly vehicle.   I am very careful when I cross a street in this town or for that matter any where.  Its called accidents, you need to be careful, even if you have the right away.

    The council members and their public safety intitiative, more politics, can't deal with real budget issues, such as the pensions, or capital projects. or real operational problem.  Show the public your doing something by creating safety initatives.

    I would like to know the cost of using the police resources versus revenue, we seem to have some former police officiers and other on here, how about a cost estimate of police time versus revenue?  How many police officers involved? 

    Do we have TOO many police officers involved with traffic safety? Too me all the cell phone violations, are they a  real problem?  How many of these drivers are from other communities, where its still legal to use a cell phone while driving?  I doubt drivers will stop using the phones.  

    I have not seen any real data about safety, that seems missing from the council initiatives, do we have a problem or is this just another  silly PR program?  I understand some might state, any accidents or deaths are not acceptable, but I would like to see a real cost benefit analysis, given the police department for years is always over budget on Overtime.


    1. Turn signals and motorists

      How often are the police issuing tickets for drivers not using turn signals ?

      I constantly see cars/trucks turn without signals and I'm not just talking where the car angle give an indication.  They can be going as full speed and suddenly turn even if bikes, pedestrians or other cars are coming—and close.

      On side streets I see about 25% of cars not using turn signals.

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