New signs make Galesburg crosswalks safer

New signs in Galesburg, Ill., are aimed at keeping Knox College students safer, but they may be confusing drivers in the process. The new traffic signs on South Street are meant to remind drivers they must stop when someone is in the crosswalk.

“We’re really excited about them. There’s been a bunch of accidents on the road, so it’s kind of nice to have signs, but people really don’t know how to use them yet, so that’s kind of confusing,” said student Amanda Lee.

Lee was referring to accidents like the hit-and-run this fall, where police said a drunk driver hit and killed Knox College student Tundun Lawani while she was crossing the street. In response, city and college staff have teamed up, putting together a committee to improve the safety of pedestrians on South Street.

“In the past, even though it was state law — you do have to stop at any intersection where there’s a pedestrian crossing — most motorists didn’t know that,” said Larry Cox, Galesburg’s director of public works.

The problem is making sure drivers know they only have to stop when someone is actually in the crosswalk. Right now, many cars are coming to a complete stop despite an empty walkway. But for the increasing number of students who live in residence halls across the street from campus, it’s a welcome change.

“People have been speeding on the road even though there’s a speed limit, so it helps people slow down, and I like the way there are multiple of them, so if you don’t stop at one, you have to stop at the next one,” said student Nadia Tapfumaneyi.

Cox said the signs, which were installed this week, have already made a big impact. The city is also increasing wattage on street lights to make the road brighter, and the safety committee has talked about possibly reducing the speed limit or installing traffic lights as well.

Click here for more news from Knox County