Speed cameras set to go
Sites within eighth of a mile of schools, parks ready for automatic enforcement
04/25/2012 10:00 PM
Mayor Emanuel wants to change the behavior of speeding Chicagoans, one camera at a time.
City Council approved the mayor’s speed camera ordinance in a 33-14 vote on Wednesday. Fines will be issued in certain school zones and near parks at $35 for speeding 6 to 10 miles per hour over the limit and $50 for 11 miles per hour or more over the limit.
“This is about changing behavior,” Emanuel said after the vote. “The victim is the child, not the speeder.”
It has been widely reported that some aldermen and citizens were concerned that the plan is intended to raise money for the city rather than to deal with safety. Illinois state law requires that all revenue from the cameras be filtered back into child safety programs.
“I believe, and I think this administration believes, that if the revenue is neutral, it’s a plus,” said Ald. Richard Mell (33rd).
All drivers will receive warnings if they speed within 30 days of a newly placed camera. After 30 days, drivers will receive a warning for their first offense and fined for any additional violations.
Several aldermen shared personal stories in support of the law.
“I feel like this is group therapy,” said Ald. Joe Moore (49th), to a few laughs, when he began his story. He said he received two tickets in a state where speed cameras are in place and concluded, “I now drive the speed limit in the state of Maryland.”
One alderman spoke during the council session against the measure.
“My concern is what happens when they’re not used for speed,” said Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th). “We [aldermen] are giving up our authority, we don’t have a say where these go. Why don’t we? We were elected.”
According the Active Transportation Alliance, someone hit by a car traveling at 40 mph has a 90 percent chance of dying, while someone hit by a car traveling at 20 mph has a 5 percent chance of dying.
The automated cameras will enforce speed zones from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. in school zones and approximately 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. in parks.
The mayor did not provide information on when a company will be selected to manage the speed camera project.
During a committee meeting last week, Gabe Klein, commissioner of the Chicago Department of Transportation, said he expects testing of equipment will be implemented by early fall.