Civil and Environmental Engineering chair weighs in on speed cameras in Chicago
The 15 speed cameras generating the most fines in the "Children's Safety Zone" program are located along well-traveled stretches of major Chicago roads where records show no children have been hit by speeders for more than a decade. A Tribune examination of crash data since 2004 shows many children have been injured by vehicles throughout Chicago — more than 11,000 — but speeding is rarely cited as a cause. Those accidents typically happen on smaller streets, such as in the city's neighborhoods where balls are kicked into streets, where parents are backing from driveways and where there are no speed cameras standing watch. There have been 50 accidents where children were hit in the park safety zone in the last decade, but almost all of those were outside the park itself — typically on streets bordering the park. "It looks to me like another solution looking for a problem," said Joseph Hummer, a traffic safety expert at Wayne State University. "It's an example of what you should not do with such an intrusive countermeasure…It seems to me like a very flimsy body of evidence for such an intrusive program that is taking a lot of money out of people's pockets," he said. "Speed camera programs should be applied gingerly and as a last resort," Hummer said. "If you've got a speeding problem on a specific stretch of roadway, what did you do first to address it?" he said. "There are literally dozens of effective methods to mitigate for speed, and that kind of a draconian enforcement program should be last on the list."