Automated traffic enforcement cameras used to enforce speed limits may be coming to a community near you very soon. Currently, Illinois law allows for speed cameras in Chicago only. However, new proposed legislation would allow for statewide use.
The bill, known as HB 4632, is currently before the Illinois House of Representatives. The bill’s intent is to lower the number of accidents caused by speeding, which accounts for 29% of car accidents in the state, according to the Illinois Department of Transportation. Representative Jay Hoffman (D-Belleville) filed the bill in February, with a goal of creating one uniform law for the entire state.
The current law allows for the installation of speed cameras only in a “safety zones,” the area within 1/8 of a mile of a school or public park. The law requires that cities post signs where speed cameras are in use, and allows a fine of up to $100 for a speeding violation caught by the cameras, with all revenue used for public safety initiatives or construction and maintenance of infrastructure.
Critics of the HB 4632 call the speed cameras “cash machines,” or a pseudo-fundraiser for cities. Proponents point toward over-worked police forces and a technological advancement to improve traffic safety.
The somewhat obvious difference between a camera and the physical presence of a police officer is the lack of officer discretion in issuing a speeding ticket, as well as the possibility of an individual being ticketed because a third party was caught speeding while driving that individual’s vehicle. In such situations, the government bears the burden of proof of that individual’s guilt.
If passed, the bill would not mandate the use of speed cameras, but would give municipalities the option of installing them. Since the installation of speed cameras in 2011, nearly 18,000 automated speeding tickets have been issued in Chicago, according to the Department of Finance. As of March 2014, the most prolific ticket generating camera in Chicago is located at 445 W. 127th Street. In a 6-month period from November 30th 2013 to March 13th 2014 this single camera generated $289,025 in fines.
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