State police eyeing I-190 shoulder parking scofflaws near O'Hare

Almost as ubiquitous as the low-flying jets when you approach O'Hare International Airport is a random group of cars perched on the shoulder of the expressway.

They insouciantly wait as other vehicles whiz by, defying signs sternly prohibiting such behavior. It makes Mundelein's Martin Rothenberg wonder, “Is anything being done to address the safety issues?”

We'll explain in this week's column, which is devoted to readers' questions and answers.

Recently, “I was amazed at the high number of cars that are always stopped on the side of the I-294/I-190 roadway and ramps approaching O'Hare in spite of the ‘No parking, stopping, standing' signs,” Rothenberg emailed.

Illinois State Police Trooper Melissa Albert-Lopez can relate.

“As the holidays approach, illegal parking along I-190 is something that most of us from Chicagoland have witnessed firsthand,” she said.

It's extremely risky because “these stopped vehicles then enter the lane of traffic in front of other vehicles and create dangerous situations, increasing the likelihood of a crash.”

State troopers do “monitor this area, conducting compliance checks and issuing citations and warnings on a daily basis,” with backup from Chicago police and IDOT, Albert-Lopez said.

The only exception to the parking prohibition is for an emergency. And that “does not include waiting for a passenger,” she said.

As the holidays approach, ISP will beef up patrols, so here are options to avoid a citation.

O'Hare has a free cellphone lot at 560 N. Bessie Coleman Drive, a free Kiss n' Fly location at the Multi-Modal Facility, pickup and drop-off at terminals, plus $3 an hour parking. To learn more, go to

Meanwhile, Cary's Mike Douglass is curious “about the crosswalks that have flashing lights activated by the pedestrian. Why are the flashing lights yellow instead of red?” he asked. “Yellow lights mean caution, while red means stop.”

Who calls the shots for colors on beacons? That's the Federal Highway Administration, IDOT spokeswoman Maria Castaneda explained.

Federal guidelines state that a warning beacon atop a warning sign, like those at crossings, must be flashing yellow. “They are used to indicate specific periods when pedestrian activity is present or is likely to be present, or to provide enhanced sign conspicuity,” FHA rules indicate.

“Such a device will warn motorists of the possible presence of a pedestrian, so that it is possible for them to stop only when necessary, and not always.”

Conversely, a “stop beacon that flashes red shall only be used to supplement a Stop, Do Not Enter, or a Wrong Way sign,” according to the Uniform Traffic Control Devices manual.

Finally, John Billis Sr. of Lincolnshire wrote he “checked with all 50 states, and I have found out that Illinois is the only state that requires the elderly to take mandatory driving tests once you reach 79 years old. We are the only state!” Billis stressed.

“The other states that used to have a mandatory test dropped the requirement because they said it was discriminating against seniors. Why is Illinois different?” he asked.

Illinois is the only state with that policy, Deputy Secretary of State Hanah Jubeh agreed.

However, “this requirement is governed by state law and only the General Assembly can act to repeal or adjust it.”

The test requirement used to be age 75 but that was temporarily switched to 79 during the COVID-19 pandemic.

At the behest of lawmakers, Secretary of State Alexi Giannoulias' office studied if Illinois should extend the age drivers must take a road test from 75 to 79.

The report, issued in September, found “that seniors were among the safest drivers,” Jubeh noted. Giannoulias “has recommended that Illinois move to permanently extend the age requirement from 75 to 79. Any additional changes to the law would have to come from the General Assembly,” she said.

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  Signs indicating that it's illegal to park on the shoulder of I-190 near O'Hare on Wednesday don't seem to deter several drivers. Brian Hill/
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