Quinn signs speed camera bill for Chicago

February 6, 2012

The Associated Press

Listen to Alex Keefe, Kristen McQueary and Wired editor Thomas Goetz discuss the speed cameras.

Chicago will be able to use automatic speed enforcement cameras to monitor drivers around the city's parks and schools and issue up to $100 tickets to motorists under a law signed Monday by Gov. Pat Quinn.

Starting in July, cameras may operate on school days from 6 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Friday. They also can operate near parks from an hour before opening to an hour after closing.

Those going 6 mph to 10 mph over the speed limit face $50 fines and those going 11 mph over would face a $100 fine.

"Safety is paramount when it comes to children," Quinn said at a high school on the city's South Side. "If we can save lives, children's lives in particular, I think that's a worthy goal."

Critics, however, have argued such cameras don't improve safety and are used to generate big revenue for local governments.

Chicago already has red-light cameras at some intersections. The revenue from the red-lights cameras in 2010 was about $66 million, according to city officials. The Chicago Tribune, which analyzed federal data on crashes between 2005 and 2009, found that of the 251 pedestrian deaths in the city, less than half occurred in the "safety zones" and less than one-quarter involved speeding.

Quinn dismissed the criticism, saying his decision was based on safety.

About one-third of the approximately 405,000 students enrolled in Chicago Public Schools walk to school, according to district officials.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel had pushed for the legislation and called it a good day for Chicago.

"All this requires is that drivers obey the law near schools and parks to ensure the safety of our kids," he said in a statement.