Will Illinois Lawmakers Approve More Speed Cameras?

Illinois currently has a speed camera law that restricts their placement to cities of more than 1 million residents. Chicago is the only city meeting the criteria, but State Representative Jay Hoffman recently filed a bill that would allow any Illinois city to have the option to use them to reduce the number of speed-related accidents, injuries and fatalities.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that 31 percent of the traffic-related fatalities in 2010 were caused by speeding. This includes driving over the posted speed limit, as well as driving too fast for the current road conditions. According to research by the U.S. Department of Transportation, speed cameras improve safety by prohibiting speeding in areas with common speed-related problems.

Speed limits are defined for safety

Federal, State and local governments set speed limits by working with traffic engineers to determine safety based on the type of roadway and the amount of traffic. When drivers surpass the legal limit, even by five miles per hour, they place all those nearby in danger.

A driver traveling at a speed of 30 miles per hour has enough time to respond to a pedestrian stepping into a crosswalk 45 feet ahead. At 35 miles per hour, the same situation results in a collision at 18 miles per hour. Serious injuries or fatalities are likely in auto accidents occurring at this speed. The speed of the vehicle always corresponds to the level of injury sustained. This is one of the primary reasons Illinois state officials believe that the use of speed cameras should be expanded.

Studies show speed cameras reduce accidents

Speed-related crashes are often associated with the higher limits posted on interstates. However, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that these account for only 13 percent of the fatalities that occurred in 2011. The highest percentage of the fatality accidents occurred on local roads where the limit was typically below 40 miles per hour.

Many states have found the installation of cameras to be successful in reducing the number of injuries and fatalities on the roadways. In 28 studies by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety on speed camera areas, crash reductions ranged between 8 and 49 percent. Injury crashes decreased between 11 and 44 percent. Studies conducted over longer periods of time indicated that the positive trends stayed stable or improved.

Although not all Illinois residents are enthusiastic about the bill, the potential for increased safety on the roadways has lawmakers interested in the outcome.