Mayor wants speed cameras near schools

November 7, 2011 (CHICAGO)

With close to 200 red light cameras, Chicago holds the distinction of having the most in the nation. Now, Mayor Rahm Emanuel wants to take it one step further and use cameras to catch speeders within an 1/8 mile of schools and parks.

"This is supposed to be work as a deterrent, as a curfew works as a deterrent, as safe passage works not as a deterrent, but as an insurance policy," Mayor Emanuel said.

While red light cameras have brought in millions of dollars of revenue, Mayor Emanuel said speed cameras are about safety for kids not revenue for the city.

"Any revenue goes back into protecting our children," Mayor Emanuel said.

Motorists face $100 fines for going 6 miles above the speed limit, which leads DePaul University Transportation expert Joe Schwieterman to believe revenue has got to be part of the picture.

"This clearly has enormous financial benefit to the city," Schwieterman said.

Statistics provided by the mayor office show more than 7,700 crashes involving pedestrians from 2005 2009 within 1/8 a mile of schools and parks. However, the stats do not show how many of those crashes involved speeders. The Chicago Department of Transporation found that between 2004 and 2011 only 10 percent of all city crashes were speed-related. The city insists red light cameras have reduced accidents, and so will speed cameras.

"When people say the jury is out on whether automated enforcement works, it's not out. There's a lot of data out there that shows it's working and it's working here in Chicago," Gabe Klein, Chicago Dept. of Transportation commissioner, said.

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