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Alderman Questions Plan To Use Cameras To Catch Speeders

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Red Light Cameras

Red Light Cameras (Credit: CBS)

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CHICAGO (CBS) — Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s plan to use cameras to catch speeders near schools and parks might have run into a minor roadblock.

As WBBM Newsradio Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports, Gov. Pat Quinn has already approved legislation authorizing the increased use of speed cameras, but the City Council also must approve the plan.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports

Ald. Anthony Beale (9th) does not argue with the use of red-light cameras to catch speeders. But he says the use of the cameras should be limited to the hours when children are around, and thus, the cameras should be turned off at 4 p.m.

Beale also thinks there should be a rising scale on the fines.

“What we have to make sure of, first and foremost, is public safety – making sure our kids are safe around schools and parks. Nobody is going to argue that point,” Beale said. “But at the same time, we can’t just continue to hammer people every single day.”

In responding to Beale’s comments, Mayor Emanuel invoked the fact that he is the son of a pediatrician.

“The victim is a child hit by a car going 10 to 15 miles an hour near a school zone,” Emanuel said. “The victim is not a speeder.”

Beale is on the City Council Transportation Committee, which must approve the legislation before it moves to the full Council.

The state bill approved earlier this month will allow the city to use 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 bill 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.

Any motorist busted by a camera would be sent a ticket in the mail. Sponsors said the tickets would be sent to the owner of the car caught speeding. The cameras would only take photos of the speeding car’s license plate, not the driver.

The owner 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.

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