Children’s Safety Will Hit Your Wallet

Earlier this week Governor Pat Quinn signed a bill allowing the City of Chicago to use cameras to catch speeding drivers near schools. The bill known as S.B. 965 will go into effect on July 1 and allows speed enforcement cameras within 1/8 of a mile, or one city block, around schools and parks between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. each weekday. The speed enforcement cameras are to be used within 1/8 of a mile around parks from one hour before the parks open to one hour after they close, which means cameras will be shut off only between the hours of midnight and 5 a.m. It also allows using existing red light cameras and mobile cameras to catch speeders within 1/8 of a mile of schools and parks in Chicago.

The Expired Meter website issued a Freedom of Information request on all calls, emails and letters from the public to the governor’s office to learn about the response to the legislation. So far it has been negative; of the 224 calls, letters, and emails about the speed camera bill, an overwhelming 91 percent were opposed to it. Governor Quinn’s response was, “You may get letters, perhaps emails. You know, you study each communication, but… I’m not sure that’s a scientific sampling of all the people of Illinois, I think there are some people who are for the bill and some aren’t for it and, you know, that happens in a lot of situations.”

Mayor Rahm Emanuel released a statement on Monday morning thanking Quinn.

“Since day one as mayor, my top priority has been to ensure that Chicago’s children can focus on their studies, not worry about their safety… I am grateful to Governor Quinn for supporting one more step in our comprehensive strategy to keep Chicago’s children safe.”

The mayor stressed that this is one of many measures taken to improve children’s safety. He cited previous measures such as stronger curfew laws, after school and safe passage programs, as well as more cops and crossing guards at schools. The Chicago accident and injury firm Zneimer & Zneimer P.C. handles cases involving a reckless driver.

Mayor Emanuel pushed for speed cameras last fall. Chicago was already among the top of the list of cities with the most red light cameras. The cameras will ticket cars going more than five miles per hour over the speed limit. Since many Chicago citizens are still not convinced this bill is a good idea Mayor Emanuel released another statement Tuesday defending the bill and saying it was a great concern of police chiefs and heads of schools that is unlike any other city and that he did not push for the bill to be signed, “…just because I’m looking for another unpopular issue to tackle.”

He also cited accident and injury statistics to justify 79 red light cameras to photograph speeder’s license plates at intersections within 1/8 of a mile of city schools and parks from just before to just after hours of operation. Which is interesting considering the city’s own study shows that more than 50 percent of all children struck by cars are hit in the middle of the block and not at an intersection.

Right now the city of Chicago has only 79 locations with a red light camera all within 1/8 of a mile of a school or park but a published report said the proposed legislation would allow 47 percent of the city to be covered by the cameras. Anyone caught speeding at these locations should expect to receive their ticket in the mail. Chicago will ensure children’s safety by busting speeding drivers.

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