With little fanfare Monday, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn (D) signed Senate Bill 965, the Chicago speed camera bill, into law. The measure allows the Windy City to utilize its vast red light camera network to issue speeding tickets by mail at 79 intersections with 1/8 mile of a school or park, effective July 1.
Ultimately, it will become the nation's largest automated speed enforcement program. The official list of eligible locations shows every corner of Chicago with the potential for some sort of speed camera presence. Northside, Southside, Westside and even downtown.
"Today is a good day for Chicago's children," Mayor Rahm Emanuel said in a statement. "With the opening of our libraries this afternoon, and Governor Quinn's signing of the speed camera legislation, our children will be both smarter and safer."
The owners of vehicles photographed at these camera-enforced intersections exceeding the speed limit between 5 and under 11 MPH would pay a $50 fine, while those exceeding 11 MPH would be fined the original $100.
Despite critics who believe the law is more about generating revenue for the city than saving children's lives, Emanuel said he has been focused on improving safety.
"I commend Governor Quinn's signing and the legislature's bipartisan passing of this legislation," Emanuel's statement continued. "All this requires is that drivers obey the law near schools and parks to ensure the safety of our kids... I am grateful to Governor Quinn for supporting one more step in our comprehensive strategy to keep Chicago's children safe."
Barnet Fagel, Traffic Safety Expert for the National Motorist Association, does not believe the speed camera law does anything to improve safety and says there is no documented proof automated speed enforcement works.
"He just signed a warrant for more traffic collisions," said Fagel who pointed to studies which show red light camera enforcement increases vehicle crashes. "In addition speed cameras will increase gridlock."
In response to a freedom of information request from The Expired Meter, the governor's office released a report showing that, prior to signing the bill, Quinn had received a total of 224 phone calls, emails or letters from constituents regarding SB 965, of which just 19 were in support of the bill. The other 205 -- over 91 percent -- were opposed, urging the governor's veto.
Now it is the Chicago city council's turn to weigh in on speed cameras. The city council must pass the ordinance here that allows the city to utilize speed camera enforcement. It could take up the matter as early as Wednesday, February 15.