Why is fining speeders suddenly something new?
Updated: February 15, 2012 3:22PM
They’re probably talking about it at village hall right now.
Whether to follow Chicago’s lead and install speed cameras near schools. Just last week, Gov. Pat Quinn signed legislation that will enable Chicago to install such cameras. Motorists driving more than 6 to 10 mph over the limit through a school zone would be fined $50. Going 11 mph over would cost $100. When signing the legislation, the governor said such cameras might be a good idea in other Illinois municipalities.
Critics of the cameras contend they are just another way to separate us from our money. Proponents counter that the cameras are not about money but about saving children’s lives.
Hard to argue against that.
But it is fair to ask: If saving children’s lives is so important to state and local government, why did Illinois cut the number of state troopers long ago so that highway speeding enforcement is virtually nonexistent? And if, as the governor said, government must do “what’s necessary to protect our kids,’’ why have so many towns cut the number of crossing guards? And why haven’t towns stationed police officers near schools mornings and afternoons to slow down and ticket speeding drivers?
No, I’m not convinced.
To me, these speeding cameras are about revenue. Government is strapped for funds. Putting speeding cameras near schools is a way to raise a lot of revenue.
But having said that, I am forced to ask myself: So what?
These cameras will result in fines for people who are breaking the law and endangering children.
Would I rather the government come up with ways to make money that punish law-breakers?
Or would I rather government just reflexively go to its usual revenue sources — increasing property taxes and upping taxes on food and medicine?
Punish speeders, I have to answer.
And it’s about time. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration states that nationally 13,000 lives a years are lost in accidents involving speeding. Accidents caused by speeding cost approximately $40 billion a year.
So, slowing down drivers is a very good idea indeed.
But by now, you’ve probably caught the flaw in my reasoning.
I write as if fining speeders will somehow prevent government officials from hiking property taxes and/or upping sales taxes.
It is more likely that the various governments will use all their powers to tax, to fee and to fine so they can raise money.