As a Chicago Tribune article describes today, automated camera enforcement of speed limits in school zones in Chicago is challenging. That’s because state law establishes school zone speed limits of 20 mph, but only "on school days when children are present," and only between 7 a.m. and 4 p.m. Otherwise, the limit is higher – often 30 mph.
This convoluted traffic law is a mess that should be changed to a 20 mph limit all day long (until at least 7 p.m.), like many states already do. The law asks too much of drivers to know which limits apply. Unless you see kids filing in and out of schools, how many people are going to realize that it’s a school day with children present?
Do we really expect drivers to check their calendars and look off to the side for those kids on the playground? The law is also problematic because it assumes kids only play around schools on school days, which is false.
I don’t think it’s a significant inconvenience to go 20 mph instead of 30 mph for a few blocks near schools, and ultimately those slower speeds will make streets safer for everyone, not just kids.
In the meantime, Chicago speed cameras located in school zones will need to measure vehicle speed and simultaneously show that a child is present! I hope Chicago can pull this off but fear they won’t, which means the effective speed limit near schools will be 30 mph, not 20. Active Trans strongly supports camera enforcement of speed limits near schools and locations where speeding and crashes are a significant problem. Read more about our position on speed cameras.