Speed Cameras May Zoom Into Your Town Soon
Amendment Could Bring Speed Enforcement To Suburbs
When Mayor Rahm Emanuel fast tracked legislation in Springfield to allow Chicago to employ speed camera enforcement within 1/8 of a mile of schools and parks back in November, drivers wondered if and when speed cameras would come to their town.
Now, less than three months later, and only 21 days from when the original bill was signed by Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, speed cameras may be expanding into towns outside Chicago sooner than later.
In a recently introduced amendment to SB0952 sponsored by Senator Antonio Munoz (D-Chicago), other Illinois municipalities may be able to utilize the same enforcement technology Mayor Emanuel pushed so hard for, if the bill can make it through the Illinois General Assembly.
Munoz cites Mayor Emanuel’s work to bring speed camera enforcement to Chicago as the inspiration for the bill.
“This proposal mirrors the mayor’s proposal for the city with the goal being to protect school children,” says Munoz. “We would all love for people to not speed in school zones and around parks where children are playing. Unfortunately, they do. At the same time, police departments aren’t immune from budget cuts. Here we have a cost-effective way to enforce our traffic and public safety laws.”
The original speed camera law restricts this type of enforcement to “municipalities with a population of 1,000,000 or more inhabitants.” The amended legislation would strike that and allow speed cameras to be used by towns in Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, Madison, McHenry, St. Clair, and Will counties where red light camera enforcement is also currently allowed.
But, the law would not be restricted to towns already employing RLC enforcement. Any municipality in the counties covered could start a speed camera enforcement program.
According to Munoz, several towns have already “expressed interest in the legislation”, including Chicago Heights, Melrose Park and Berwyn.
River Forest Village Administrator Eric Palm, was not aware of the bill and thinks its too early for their town to consider speed camera enforcement as River Forest is still waiting for approval from IDOT for their first red light cameras.
“It’s something we’d have to take a look at, but it’s somewhat premature,” said Palm explaining the town approved their RLC program less than a year ago. “We like to see how the red light cameras work first.”
Allen Skillicorn, a trustee for East Dundee, which has red light camera enforcement program, and won his seat running against red light cameras for his town was taken aback by the speed of the potential expansion of speed camera enforcement statewide.
“I’m surprised, but not surprised there are people in Springfield pushing for another money grab,” said Skillicorn after a pause.
If the law passed, would East Dundee consider speed camera enforcement?
“Over my dead body,” said Skillicorn. “Our town doesn’t seem to need it. I don’t think there would be a justifiable safety reason in our town. I would fight it tooth and nail.”
The legislation is currently being debated in Illinois Senate Transportation Committee Tuesday evening in Springfield.
Chicago Heights Mayor David A. Gonzalez did not return our request for an interview.