Opinion: Why Speed Cameras Are A Great Idea
There. I’ve said it.
I think Chicago alderman should vote for the ordinance because a speed camera program can do so much for their career and the city.
Let me explain.
Speed cameras are a great idea if you want to generate revenue. Lot’s of revenue. Millions if not hundreds of millions of dollars a year in revenue.
When you understand that Chicago’s 191 red light camera locations generated $69 million in 2010, a potential 300 speed camera locations could easily dwarf the nation’s largest RLC program.
Speed cameras are a great idea if you want to increase traffic times. Local spokesperson for the National Motorists Association and traffic safety expert Barnet Fagel believes speed cameras will cause drivers to suddenly slow down through the camera enforced safety zones, but then speed up after leaving the zone causing traffic dislocation and longer commute times.
“Speed cameras will slow traffic flow,” says Fagel. “You think traffic is bad now? Just wait until the speed cameras go in then prepare to be stuck in traffic even longer.”
Speed Cameras are great if you want to anger and frustrate constituents.
Even now, before the ordinance has been voted on, many aldermen are hearing from the residents they serve and generally the public is opposed to speed cams.
Once those first speed cam tickets get issued, aldermen will need to hire a second receptionist just to answer all the calls from people complaining about their $35 or $100 tickets depending on the speed. Having to hire 50 additional ward office receptionists is the type of job creation aldermen can be proud of.
Aldermen who haven’t heard a lot on this issue yet, will certainly get an earful when a speed cam or two come to your ward.
Remember the parking meter lease deal? Some aldermen are still hearing about that fiasco over three years later.
Speed cameras are great if you want to make it look you care about safety.
Of course achieving traffic safety is a multi-faceted endeavor at best. But if you want to make it look like you’re improving safety in order to rationalize raking in desperately needed cash, then speed cameras again, a great idea.
Of course, you don’t have to actually use proven methods of improving safety like speed bumps, engineering studies, crossing guards, educational outreach or really obscure concepts like actually posting speed limit signs or painting crosswalks because this kind of stuff costs money.
You see, the brilliance of speed cameras is they generate revenue.
Speed cameras are a great idea if you want to discourage tourism.
Many suburbanites and out of state visitors will hear of these speed cameras and perhaps not want to risk making their visit or vacation even more expensive than planned. CDOT Commissioner Gabe Klein even admitted that 50% of red light camera tickets are generated by unwitting people who live outside Chicago city limits.
Speed cameras are a great idea if aldermen enjoy risking losing their job.
Again, remember the parking meter lease deal. Many aldermen retired before the last election cycle knowing the public backlash at the ballot box would have forced them to retire.
Voters will remember speed cameras at election time.
So good luck alderman! Go ahead and vote yes on speed cameras. It’s a great idea.
But don’t expect your constituents to be happy about it.