Last week, Gov. Pat Quinn signed a new law allowing the city to expand its use of speed cameras in designated zones. The zones will be clustered within an eight of a mile of schools and parks, but are expected to include nearly half the city.
Proponents of the new law say the increased use of speed cameras in these safety zones will help reduce Chicago car accidents.
The red-light cameras will be used in tandem with electronic devices that automatically generate speeding violation tickets. Fines would be $50 for going 6 to 10 miles per hour over the speed limit and $100 for those going 11 miles per hour over.
Critics claim that the city’s motivation for expanding the use of speed cameras is as much about money as about preventing car crashes or injuries to pedestrians. In 2010, the cameras produced $69 million in ticket revenue for the city. That figure is likely to increase markedly once the new law takes effect on July 1.
Chicago Major Rahm Emanuel pushed hard for the speed-camera bill and most of the legislators from Chicago voted for it.
Some of those who voted against it were concerned that the cameras would be too intrusive and create a Big-Brother vibe in neighborhoods. In response, sponsors of the legislation included a provision limiting the hours when the cameras are allowed to operate.
Due to this compromise, cameras near schools will have different hours than cameras near parks. On Monday to Thursday, the cameras near schools will operate from 6 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. when school is in session. The hours on Fridays will be 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. The hours for the cameras near parks will be from one hour before the park opens to one hour after the close.
Source: “Quinn green-lights speed-camera plan for Chicago,” Chicago Tribune, 2-6-12
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