The Chicago Department of Transportation (“CDOT”) announced last week that they would be adding five (5) new speeder cameras around the city by the end of the summer. Two (2) of the cameras will be placed at Hiawatha and Kosciuszko parks on the Northwest Side. The other three (3) cameras will be placed near Major Hector P. Garcia MD High School on the Southwest Side, Near North Montessori School on the Near Northwest Side and Gary Comer College Prep High School on the South Side.
CDOT told the Chicago Tribune that ““Automated speed enforcement is a proven deterrent to speeding, and one of the most effective tools in our toolbox for reducing speeding and saving lives.” They further pointed out that this was another step in Mayor Emanuel’s “Vision Zero” plan, which is aimed at eliminating all traffic accident deaths by the year 2026.
I have written on the site multiple times about red light and speed cameras. Based on multiple studies (and a bribery scandal), the red light cameras have come under a lot of scrutiny for any safety value added to the community. On the other hand, speeder cameras, have not undergone as much scrutiny. For one, they are newer to Chicago and we don’t know the actual net impact they are providing for motorists and pedestrian safety. According to CDOT, safety cameras are actually making streets and walkways safer throughout the city. According to the Department the number of speeding violations has been trending down in areas with speed cameras since they were deployed in 2014, and average traffic speed has dropped from 26 mph to 22.5 mph. Crash data also show that the number of car crashes in areas with speed cameras was down 4 percent in 2015 compared to 2013, while for the rest of the city crashes were up 13 percent.
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A new study performed by Wallethub.com looked a the speeding and reckless driving laws for all 50 states and Washington D.C. Illinois had the 4th strictest rating for speeders and and 16th for reckless driver laws. Illinois’ overall rank was 8. More specifically, Illinois had the number 1 rank of drivers with at least one (1) speeding ticket toward a suspension. They had the 3rd highest ranking for fines for a first time reckless driving ticket.
The last several years this blog has focused highly on distracted driving and the effects of phone use while driving. The evidence shows that texting and driving has become an epidemic in the country. Regardless, it is important to point out (as does this Wallethub study) that excessive speeding is just as dangerous and costly. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2016, speeding was a factor in 27 percent of motor vehicle crash deaths. The NHTSA also pointed out that estimated that the annual economic cost to society of speeding-related crashes is $40.4 billion. Folks, it’s ok to slow down.
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The National Safety Council announced last week that traffic fatalities are up 14% so far this year and that injuries related to traffic accidents are up 33%.
The Council has deduced that a robust economy and lower gas prices have put more people on the road, which in turn leads to more car accidents. If the trend continues, traffic deaths this year could exceed 40,000 for the first time since 2007, when there were nearly 44,000 deaths.
The Council did note that in recent years drunk driving fatalities have dropped about 20%, teen car accidents are down and seat belt use is up. The question remains is whether the increase in fatalities is due solely on a booming economy and low gas prices? The Council believed this is the main reason, but also blames the increase in speed limits in many states along with the continued number of distracted drivers. Despite multiple distracted driving campaigns on the state and federal level, more people are taking cell phone calls and texting on their phones while driving.
So we have the most amount of drivers on the road since 2007 plus more people using their cell phones while driving at faster rates. This is a dangerous combination which has led to this increase in traffic deaths. Like I have written numerous times in the past, until states stiffen the penalties for texting and driving, we will not see the numbers of traffic fatalities and serious traffic injuries drop.
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