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In a “Letters, Opinions” column in last November’s Evanston RoundTable four aldermen – Coleen Burrows, Jane Grover, Don Wilson and Melissa Wynne – begged drivers to make school surroundings safe for our children, a very laudable effort indeed.
They referred to the pending Illinois House Bill that amends the state vehicle code to require cars to stop, rather than simply yield, for a pedestrian in a crosswalk. That would be refreshing, but not easy to track and enforce short of punishment after a pedestrian is hit or run over.
Without a policeman at every such crosswalk to catch guilty drivers, enforcement is not easy. No Driver’s Ed course instills in drivers a perpetual warning system for when they are behind the wheel. Even those who believe lessons learned in Driver’s Ed are permanently imprinted on their brains may catch themselves doing things they should not, feeling fortunate there are no policemen around at the time.
There is a solution, a replacement for the police officer who cannot be everywhere. Though it is a costly device and expensive to install, it yields a profit at the end of the equation. Not only would it make street-crossing safer, but it would add to the City’s income. The device is a camera, and it is used widely, though it is controversial in Chicago and many other suburbs.
An example of where a camera would be useful is at the corner of Hinman and Grove. Because of the significant distance between the intersection and parked cars (25 feet) drivers have very good visibility. As they approach the intersection and see no other cars coming, they slow down – or think they do – but proceed without coming to a halt in spite of the four-way stop signs. It is not only against the law, but ignores the rights of pedestrians, for whom these drivers are supposed to stop.
A camera would catch them in the act, license plates visible. A $100 fine would not only serve as a good educator, but considering several busy intersections in Evanston, the City’s finances would be improved significantly, even after deducting the amortized cost of the camera and administrative expenses such as collecting from guilty drivers.
Assume only five such intersections with stop signs. The math may be wrong, but if on an average day five violators were fined $100 each, weekdays only (260 days per year), $650,000 per year would be brought in. Deduct for amortization of equipment, operating cost, administrative expenses and uncollectible tickets, and the City would still net a considerable sum.
Now that the City Council has approved security cameras, perhaps it might add “intersection-stop cameras” – at least on a trial basis.