Haven’t we had enough whining from motorists who think they should be able to tear through city streets without getting nailed by speed cameras?
The bellyaching has started again with the news that the cameras would have generated more — possibly much more — revenue than had been projected by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel when he launched this campaign.
In just 45 days, the first 13 cameras installed near seven city parks clocked more than 233,000 speeders, who received warning violations. If they had been fined, the cameras would have generated $13.3 million in fines. Projected over an entire year, that’s more than $106 million.
Predictably, the told-ya-so’s are raining down, claiming this proves the cameras are designed solely to pick motorists’ pockets and not for safety reasons.
Fine by me. If speeders help offset taxes for homeowners and renters, businesses, tourists (e.g. those gawd-awful high hotel taxes) and consumers, then why not?
Here, for entertainment purposes, I’ll recite a small sample of the anti-camera arguments, made by very serious Internet posters and pro-speeding representatives:
• It’s not about safety; it’s about the money. Logically, it can be about both. And do you really think that enforcing speed limits has little or nothing to do with safety?
• It’s a “massive windfall” for the city at “taxpayers’ expense.” So said a news story apparently written by a radio reporter who doesn’t know the difference between a tax and a fine. This “tax” falls only on those who break the law. Don’t speed and you don’t get “taxed.”
• You cannot legislate safety. The same argument was made against seat belts when they first were required. Traffic lights, traffic courts, lane markers, driving under the influence laws are just a few examples of successful traffic safety legislation.
• The camera caught me in a rare slip. Yet, you were speeding. Tell it to the judge
• I shouldn’t be penalized for going just 6 miles an hour over the speed limit. OK, how fast should you be able to go in an urban school zone — 30 mph, 35, 40?
• Speed isn’t the problem; it’s the difference in speed among vehicles that matters. Hey, we’re not talking about the Dan Ryan Expressway and such, where different speeds are indeed the cause of many accidents. Instead, we’re talking about school zones, near parks where people play and other city streets, where speed itself can be a cause of accidents.
• It’ll drive tourists (or suburbanites, or business visitors) and their dollars out of the city. And to where, Indianapolis? Is extending to our guests the special right to break the law a part of the city’s obligation as a host?
• Shut up, Byrne, you live in the suburbs; you have no right to say what we should do in Chicago. Yes I do. If what you say were true, Chicago columnists couldn’t write about what happens in suburban Cook County. Decades ago, no one in the North could have written about the South’s racist Jim Crow laws.
• Byrne, you hypocrite, all your arguments in favor of speed cameras will disappear if you’re caught in a camera speed trap. No, like an adult, I’ll pay my fine instead of beefing about it while blaming someone else for my irresponsible decision.
And now, for the most enduring, yet irrational of arguments — speed cameras violate individual rights
• It tramples our personal freedoms. Does that mean that speeding is among the freedoms bestowed us by the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, natural law and so forth? Would even libertarian icon Ayn Rand, or George Orwell, make such a stupid argument? Need I point out that driving is a state-licensed activity, not a right? Yes, for these folks, I do.
• But I can break this speeding law because it is an unjust law. Sure it is. Speed limits in school zones must be eliminated because they unjustly favor children and discriminate against speeders by denying their right to get to their destination two minutes sooner.
• The cameras violate my privacy. Licensed drivers driving a licensed car in an illegal manner on a public street have an expectation of privacy? Hardly.
Think about it, more than 233,000 speeders were snapped by 13 cameras in just a few weeks. How many more millions of speeders are thoughtlessly endangering pedestrians, school children and other motorists? If this is what it takes to stop them, the rest of us are better off.
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