* I’m not unalterably opposed to proposals like this…
Proposals in both the House and Senate would allow governments in heavily populated counties to install camera-radar mechanisms on accident-prone thoroughfares.
“People are driving just too darned fast,” Rep. Joseph Lyons, a Chicago Democrat who’s sponsoring the proposal with Sen. Terry Link, D-Waukegan, said Thursday.
The cameras would take photos of license plates on cars moving too fast. Violators would get a $100 ticket in the mail, but the infraction would not count against the number of moving violations necessary to suspend a driver’s license.
At a state Capitol news conference, Link and Lyons cited federal statistics showing 520 speed-related deaths in Illinois in 2007. They claimed cameras have reduced accidents in El Paso, Texas, by 80 percent; annual crashes in Dayton, Ohio, by 37 percent; and that cameras monitoring red-light runners in Chicago since 2003 have reduced that problem by 55 percent.
This looks like a good idea which will save lives.
My generic objection to all of these sorts of proposals - including the overuse of home confinement - is that we may be making it too cheap and easy for the government to penalize and incarcerate us.
Now, I don’t wear a tinfoil hat and I don’t believe we’re in immediate or even longterm danger of becoming one big prison, but the easier and cheaper it is to ding us or lock us up, then it is logical to assume that more of us will be dinged or involuntarily confined.
* The Tribune editorialized in favor of the bills today, but offered up a caveat…
Municipalities should use these only in areas that are known to be hazardous, where speeding is a real problem. And they should rig them to catch only the worst scofflaws, not the driver who creeps up to 35 in a 30-m.p.h. zone. Just as the average cop allows drivers a margin over the posted speed limits depending on conditions, so too should these cameras. (In Arizona, cameras on highways are set to issue tickets at 11 m.p.h over the posted limit. Sounds fair.) The point here is to reduce recklessness, not dun every driver who happens to harmlessly drift a few miles over the posted limit.
Still, if not watched carefully, bureaucracies will always tend to take their mandates to a relative extreme.
Again, I’m in no way suggesting that we’re all gonna be imprisoned in a vast, statewide jail. I just wish that legislators would try to think about how they’re making punishment too cheap and easy when voting for bills like this.
I’m interested to hear what you think.