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updated: 3/9/2012 8:12 AM

Senator proposes speed cameras in the suburbs

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  • A Chicago lawmaker has proposed allowing speed cameras in suburban school zones.

       A Chicago lawmaker has proposed allowing speed cameras in suburban school zones.
    BILL ZARS | Staff Photographer

 
 

SPRINGFIELD -- A Chicago state senator wants to allow suburban communities to have cameras that could automatically ticket drivers for speeding in school zones.

The same cameras were approved for Chicago weeks ago, and the proposal created a flurry of controversy, with critics blasting the plan as a moneymaking scheme.

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"People are going to go nuts," state Sen. Dan Duffy, a Lake Barrington Republican, said Wednesday.

The proposal by state Sen. Tony Munoz, a Chicago Democrat, would allow suburbs in Cook, Lake, Kane, McHenry and Will counties to have speed cameras, but it wouldn't require them. Local officials would have to propose and approve them.

"We would all love for people to not speed in school zones and around parks where children are playing. Unfortunately, they do," Munoz said in a statement. "At the same time, police departments aren't immune from budget cuts. Here we have a cost-effective way to utilize modern technology (to) help enforce our traffic and public safety laws."

Munoz' plan is still in its legislative infancy, and there's no guarantee it'll see any further debate.

Still, even the concept of speed cameras able to ticket suburban commuters is likely to ignite controversy.

Traffic cameras are among the most divisive issues among suburban residents, many of whom already are annoyed by red-light cameras that automatically lead to tickets for infractions.

It's unclear how suburban leaders will react to the possible opportunity to have speed cameras. But mayors throughout the suburbs are already split on red-light cameras and sometimes change their minds.

Schaumburg operated red-light cameras for less than a year. The village pulled the devices after receiving an onslaught of complaints, many coming from Woodfield Mall shoppers caught turning right on red.

As for speed cameras? Not likely, Schaumburg Mayor Al Larson said.

"I expect the same logic will apply to the new initiative," he said.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel pushed for the speed cameras in Chicago as a safety measure.

Duffy is pushing a proposal that would require yellow lights on traffic signals with cameras to be one second longer. He says the extra second reduced accidents, and it would also lead to fewer tickets.

• Daily Herald staff writer Marni Pyke contributed to this story.

Speed: Red-light cameras didn't last a year in Schaumburg

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