Tell me how you really feel.
OK, I kid. I got such a strong response to the prospect of the Illinois General Assembly allowing speed cameras in the suburbs, this column is devoted to your thoughts.
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Hit or missIf there's such a thing as relatively safe or relatively dangerous, we've got both. Chicago ranked 57th out of 100 in terms of most hazardous American cities to drive in, with 100 being the worst, according to a survey by Men's Health magazine. Researchers looked at crash rates and fatalities plus variables such as whether alcohol, speeding or using a cellphone was involved. The worst? St. Louis came in 100th, while St. Paul, Minn., was safest.
To recap, Sen. Tony Munoz, a Chicago Democrat, has floated a bill that would allow speed cameras in Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry and Will counties. Chicago will get the surveillance devices this summer.
And, no, not everyone opposed the idea, although the vast majority of readers responding did.
Let's start with Daniel Savarese of West Dundee. He writes, "I'm absolutely sure I'm not the only one that feels this way, but I'm starting to get sick of the measures our state's politicians will go to claw and scratch as much money from its citizens as possible! They just decided to double our tolls and now they're considering electronically fining us for speeding!
"For them to say that it's only around parks and schools is a very sneaky way to rationalize it, as schools and parks account for the majority of the suburban landscape. And how does this affect the police force? Will this be further justification for towns/politicians to cut down on patrolmen?"
Leslie Koehler from Mundelein says "There is no data to suggest that (cameras) improve safety, and it smacks of a revenue-generating scheme. I abhor the idea that a machine will arbitrarily issue a citation, with no human judgment for mitigating factors or whether or not anyone's safety was actually jeopardized (e.g., no other traffic or pedestrians in sight).
"I drive through multiple school zones every day during the time students are arriving or departing school. What really makes a difference in getting drivers to slow down (in my sample of one) is the policeman stationed at the high school entrance in Mundelein directing traffic, as well as flashing signs for pedestrians and flashing signs for the school zone speed limit. I've also encountered the occasional crossing guard who will yell at speeding drivers! But honestly, I just don't see much speeding during these times.
"Why is a Chicago-based lawmaker trying to intervene in something that does not concern his district? We have the Naperville and Schaumburg experiences with red-light cameras that we can learn from."
But Leslie Ryan of Rolling Meadows came out in support of the technology.
"I just don't understand," she wrote. "What is so wrong about enforcing our existing laws? I think it's a good idea for a community to be able to make extra money from drivers who make the choice to disregard traffic regulations. If citizens feel that a law is unjust, they should work to amend that law. No one would have to pay any fines if they would simply obey the laws.
"I am annoyed by people who complain about red-light cameras, and now, speed cameras. The laws are in place for the safety of all of us."
But Don Knauf of Lindenhurst argues that "speed cameras, especially near schools and parks, are nothing but a good example of the 'irrefutable argument.' The question is 'don't you want our children safe as they go to/from school, and play at our parks?' If one answers 'no,' they are labeled abhorrent, if one answers 'yes,' then they are automatically assumed to support speed cameras.
"The real question is never asked; 'Do we have unsafe streets near our schools and parks due to speeding cars?' I'm willing to bet there is no trend of accidents/incidents in school zones that involve speeding cars and students. Based on my presumption then, why would we even consider paying a PRIVATE company to collect speeding ticket fines? I contend the towns/counties/municipalities can hide behind the irrefutable argument, meanwhile collecting more revenue without raising taxes (a win/win for any politician!). It reeks of political glad-handing as fines and revenue roll in by solving a nonexistent problem."
We'll give the last word to Marianne Faraone of Bensenville.
"I live off Route 83," Faraone said. "Friday and Saturday nights people drag race. If they put cameras (in) -- have them active in the middle of the night when there is not a lot of traffic."
Grit your teeth, Route 62 drivers. Reconstruction and widening between Easting's Way to Penny Road has started in South Barrington. The $6.7 million project will widen the road from two to five lanes. Hey, it won't be so bad. IDOT promises one lane in each direction and it will be done as soon as November. Stay strong.
One more thing
I nearly bumped into a Volt that had stalled on Highland Avenue in Lombard last week. Well, if the driver's battery had run down, they'll be glad to know DuPage County has an app for that. The smartphone application, dubbed DuPage Green Grid, shows local alternative fuel stations and car-share stations. To learn more, check out dupageco.org/greengrid. By the way, the Illinois tollway has a plug-in station at its headquarters, 2700 Ogden Ave., Downers Grove.