Red-light cameras may be used for more than just catching drivers who drive through red lights. If Mayor Rahm Emanuel gets his way, the City of Chicago could use these cameras in the sky to bust speeding drivers in school zones, according to the Chicago Tribune.
Administrators believe that this kind of enforcement would help to keep children safe and would help prevent car accidents in Chicago. But critics of the technology say it's just another way for the cash-strapped city to reel in some dough.
Our Chicago car accident attorneys understand that speeding contributes to far too many fatal accidents on our roadways. Speeding is especially dangerous when done through school zones and through residential zones with young pedestrians.
Officials claim that this strategy would help everyone to get the best of both worlds as City Hall, who is already on a tight budget, can earn extra cash while helping to keep pedestrians safe. Not everyone's buying it.
"The jury is still out on whether the red-light cameras are effective in terms of safety. ... So then it really becomes a revenue-raising tool, rather than a public safety tool, and I think there are more honest ways of raising money," said Ald. Joe Moore, 49th.
The transportation commissioner, Gabe Klein, is backing Emanuel's request for the cameras. Currently, Chicago has a number of red-light cameras scattered throughout the city, but they're not able to catch speedy drivers --only those who run red lights.
To allow these cameras able to catch speeding drivers, all officials would have to do is install a strip on the roadway to calibrate a vehicle's speed as they travel through an intersection. These devices will be able to provide an accurate speed reading that is concrete enough to hold up in court.
Klein says that the idea of the cameras isn't to bust a lot of speeders, write a bunch of tickets and collect the fees and fines; it's about getting people to slow down in the areas that are dangerous.
The proposal was recently presented by Michael Madigan of Chicago, the Democratic House Speaker. He says that these cameras would only be used in areas where safety measures need to be heightened, including college and university campuses, park districts and other school zones.
Before these cameras could be installed and used, officials would be required to install cautionary signs to warn drivers about the monitoring of their speed.
Emanuel's administration is pushing this proposal hard. City officials are armed with a plethora of information to back up their request. Through countless accident reports, the administration concluded that pedestrian accidents in Chicago are most commonly cause by a motorists who fails to yield. A pedestrian's risks of death increases nearly 10 times when a car is traveling just 10 mph over a 20-mph speed limit.
Back in 2003, red-light cameras hit Chicago after Mayor Richard Daley approved the measure. In 2008, they generated about $45 million in ticket fines. In 2009, nearly 800,000 drivers in the city were ticketed by these cameras.
Ald. Edward Burke questions their deterrent effect however. With so many tickets he wondered, are these cameras really stopping anyone from flying through these intersections?
Klein hasn't put an exact number on how many cameras the administration would like to see used to catch speedy drivers. But he reiterated that the money collected from these lawbreakers would be used to help fund infrastructure and transportation safety projects.
No one's sure how Springfield will feel about the proposal. Back in 2010, Springfield lawmakers passed a weak reform package that made it easier for drivers to appeal red-light camera tickets after local government received several complaints about the eyes in the sky.
If this proposal gets signed into law, it would be effective on July 1st of 2012.