Chicago’s speed cameras: Safety tool or cash cow?

Susie An Apr 18, 2012

Bob Moon: Chicago’s City Council is expected to approve a new measure today to allow speed cameras around the city, with fines of up to $100. Mayor Rahm Emanuel says it’ll increase safety for children.

But some call it a cash grab. From WBEZ in Chicago, Susie An reports.

Susie An: High school student Juana Labra was crossing the street near school when she got hit by a car. She suffered neck injuries and missed three weeks of class. Labra wished there’d been a speed camera at that corner.

Juana Labra: If drivers are aware that there are cameras around, they’d take more precaution when driving.

The Chicago city council plans to install speed cameras around schools and parks. According to city officials, more than 2,700 children were hit by cars over a five-year period ending in 2010. Commissioner Gabe Klein with the city’s department of transportation says Chicago’s got a culture where speeding is sort of OK.

Gabe Klein: I think we have some cultural values that need to change, and no way better than with technology when resources are constrained.

Some city residents think the measure is all about money. Here’s Alderman Leslie Hairston speaking at a committee meeting.

Alderman Leslie Hairston: You all continue to say this is about kids and it’s not about kids.

To make it more about the kids, the administration made a few tweaks to the proposal. Some speeders will pay 30 percent less than originally suggested. And camera hours will match up with school hours.

Commissioner Klein didn’t know exactly how much the speed cameras will bring in, but he expects revenue to decrease as drivers learn to slow down.

In Chicago, I’m Susie An for Marketplace.

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