Photo by Dermot Connolly
A vehicle stops at one of the new four-way signs installed at the intersection of 98th Street and Meade Avenue in Oak Lawn last month. The intersection one block south of Southwest Highway was made a four-way stop at the request of residents following a fatal accident that occurred there on Memorial Day, May 30.
Four-way stop signs were recently installed at the intersection of 98th Street and Meade Avenue following a fatal collision on Memorial Day, and at least one trustee would like to see such signage at every intersection.
The stop signs requested by neighborhood residents were installed in August at 98th and Meade, after 34-year old Jacqueline L. Chavez-Ruiz, of the 9800 block of Moody Avenue, suffered fatal injuries in a crash there on May 30. The mother of four died at Advocate Christ Medical Center six days after the accident, in which the GMC Suburban she was a passenger in was struck by a Honda Odyssey.
Her vehicle, which east on 98th Street, flipped over, when the Honda traveling south on Meade struck it. Chavez-Ruiz was not wearing a seatbelt, and was ejected and pinned underneath the Suburban.
Since the tragedy occurred, Trustee Bob Streit (3rd) has been lobbying to get at least some signage at all the uncontrolled intersections in the village. But his idea has not received much support from Police Chief Michael Murray or other members of the administration.
“Unfortunately, it took a tragedy to get the signs up at that intersection but I am glad they are there now,” said Streit. “It’s really sad. The same woman (Rose Berry) who circulated the petition asking the Traffic Review Committee for the signs did the same thing in 2003 and was turned down.”
Streit said that for safety reasons, at least a “yield” sign should be erected in one direction of every uncontrolled intersection, preferably on the least traveled of the two streets.
But he said Murray told him more signage isn’t needed because motorists will stop paying attention to signs if there are too many, and the rules of the road familiar to all drivers already indicate which car would have the right of way.
“Knowing who has the right-of-way doesn’t matter in a lot of these cases,” said Streit. “Without a stop or yield sign, drivers unfamiliar with the area might just assume the driver coming the other direction has a stop sign.”
Streit recalled being a victim of a two-car crash that occurred in 1964, when he was 9, and walking with three friends near the intersection of 107th and Kilbourn. “It was an uncontrolled intersection then, but not anymore,” he noted. He said two cars collided and one went off the road, striking all four boys and putting him in the hospital for two weeks.
“We all lived but like (the Memorial Day collision), it didn’t have to happen. A sign would have at least slowed them down.”
He said the cost of the signs would be minimal because they are made by the Public Works Department’s sign shop.
However, Mayor Sandra Bury is among those who agree with Murray that more signs are not the answer. She said that while the cost of making the signs might be minimal, the real cost would come from “taking people away from other work to hang signs everywhere.”
“The trustee has a solution without a problem. He is just generating issues,” she said.
“I am for anything if it enhances safety. But I rely on my police chief and the Traffic Review Committee and they are very capable of determining when signs are necessary, or if there was an issue,” said Bury.
She said she agrees with Murray’s opinion that more signage would lead to the signs being ignored and diminish their effect.
“I’ve had residents tell me that they don’t want any more signs. ‘Leave us alone,’ they say.”
She said she tends to agree with that sentiment. “It is too much government intrusion,” she said. After talking to police, firefighters and dispatchers, there is no need for more signs.
“More signs are not the answer. Respecting the rules we already have on the books and being mindful of the children playing would be good,” she said, urging drivers to “slow down and follow the rules of the road.”