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Expert: Speed Cameras Won’t Make Anything Safer

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CHICAGO (CBS) — A motoring gadfly is challenging arguments that a blanket of speed enforcement cameras will improve safety for Chicago schoolchildren.

As WBBM Newsradio’s John Cody reports, “ticket doctor” Barnet Fagel believes the cameras approved by Gov. Pat Quinn on Monday will actually reduce safety.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s John Cody reports

“When they focus on the speedometer, they’re not looking at the traffic in front of them, or the pedestrians, or bicycles,” he said.

Attention to the road is more important than speed, Fagel said.

“They should keep their eyes on the road, and not have to worry so much about the speed, but how to control the speed,” he said.

The city insists that slower speeds will save lives. For that reason, Mayor Rahm Emanuel has been pushing for speed enforcement cameras with 1/8 of a mile, or one city block, around schools between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. each weekday.

The legislation approved by Gov. Quinn this week also allows speed enforcement cameras to be used within 1/8 of a mile around parks from one hour before the parks open to one hour after they close. This means the cameras will only be shut off between midnight and 5 a.m.

Right now, the city has red light cameras in 79 locations within a 1/8 of a mile of a school or park. But a published report said the proposed legislation to allow speed cameras in the city showed the legislation would allow at least 47 percent of the city to be covered by the cameras – not including areas around colleges and universities.

The owner of an offending vehicle would be mailed a ticket, and would be subject to a fine of up to $50 for being caught driving 6 to 10 miles an hour over the speed limit. Drivers going 10 miles an hour or more over the limit would be fined up to $100. Fines would be doubled if they are not paid on time and five unpaid fines would result in the loss of the owner’s driver’s license.

The bill goes into effect July 1.

As for Fagel, he started out in electronics and became interested in red light cameras. He now appears as a court expert for attorneys challenging traffic tickets.

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