Ward Room
Covering Chicago's nine political influencers

Emanuel Floats Red-Light Fines for Speeders

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Mayor Rahm Emanuel wants drivers who speed through school zones automatically ticketed.

    If Emanuel gets the OK from state lawmakers to let Chicago use existing red-light cameras for speeding tickets, drivers could face $100 fines. 

    "This is about deterrence," Emanuel said Thursday. "The number one goal is keeping kids safe to and from school."  

    Some say this is another way for the city to collect money at a time when it continues to face a major deficit. Others question the validity of red-light cameras in general to curb crashes and even say the cameras cause fender benders when drivers slam on their brakes to avoid tickets.

    But Gabe Klein, Emanuel's transportation commissioner, told the Chicago Tribune the idea isn't about writing a ton of tickets but to get drivers to slow down and change their behavior.  

    Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan presented the legislation Wednesday and said signs would be posted in school zones to inform drivers their speed is being monitored. He even had Emanuel-approved stats to back it up. Emanuel's administration said the main cause of pedestrian crashes in Chicago is motorists failing to yield, according to the Tribune.

    The publication points out that aldermen in the past few years have acknowledged the red-light cameras installed in 2003 were used to create city revenue.

    Ald. Ed Burke (14th) even called them "a money machine, that's all."

    It is not yet known how soon the proposal would go through or how many intersections the cameras would target.

    A police blog did note that Emanuel's leased mayoral car was ticketed Oct. 12 for illegally parking on Michigan Avenue. The mayor was none too happy about this, according to the blog, and made some angry calls.