Emanuel lobbies for school zone speed cameras with House vote pending

November 7, 2011

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is lobbying hard for a bill that would allow the city to use red light cameras to catch speeders near school zones and parks.

The measure quickly passed the Senate two weeks ago, but some representatives say it could face stiffer opposition in the House, which is expected to vote this week.

Emanuel insisted the cameras are needed to slow down drivers in school zones.

"If you follow the law, you have nothing to worry about," said Emanuel. "Simple. As you follow the law, this is not a problem. If you break the law, obviously you've got a concern, and all I'm saying is don't do it near a school or park."

Under the proposal, drivers caught speeding near parks and schools could face a $100 dollar fine. The bill approved by the Senate allows cameras around schools to operate from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. on school days and from one hour before opening and after closing for parks. Emanuel said all ticketing revenue would go toward funding for various school programs, citing after school programs and speed bumps as examples.

Chicago Transportation Commissioner Gabe Klein discussed how the city might use the cameras to catch speeders near school zones and parks. Klein said 79 current red light cameras are within one-eighth of a mile from a school or park. He said the city is looking into reworking those cameras to catch speeders.

"The goal is to change people's behavior," said Klein. "You have education, engineering and enforcement. And if you don't have enforcement the other two aren't as effective."

Klein said the city could start using the cameras as early as this summer. He said the city is also considering tracking speeders by placing specially equipped vans near safety zone intersections without red light cameras.

Klein said enforcement would follow a 30-day grace period, where warnings would be issued to people caught speeding.