Speed Limits in School Zones May be Toughened
Chicago, IL (Law Firm Newswire) June 17, 2013 – A bill approved in the Illinois House would toughen speed limits in school zones.
Under the proposed legislation, drivers would be required to slow down to 20 mph any time a child is present in a school zone, not only when school is in session. Current law requires drivers to slow down in a school zone only on school days between 7 a.m. and 4 p.m. Rep. Elaine Nekritz, D-Northbrook, said that children should be protected when crossing the street after school hours. Researchers have found that this time period is when children are most often struck by automobiles.
“Children on foot are at great risk of being struck by an automobile, and safety measures are needed to protect them,” said Paul Greenberg, a Chicago car accident attorney.
The new bill would require drivers to slow down to 20 mph in a school zone whenever a child is within 50 feet of the street. Violations would result in a $150 fine for the first offense; a second offense would bring a fine of at least $300.
The bill's supporters pointed out that the proposed legislation is based on data indicating that most car accidents involving children on foot occur after school hours. Opponents of the bill said it was aimed at collecting fines from drivers in Chicago, where population density results in more school zones within a given area. Rep. Monique Davis, D-Chicago said that she believed the bill was well-intentioned, but that in her district, which includes the Far South Side of Chicago, there are “schools everywhere you turn.” Davis said she suspected the bill was aimed at making money from people working in the city.
According to a Chicago Tribune analysis of data from the Chicago Police Department and the Illinois Department of Transportation, the greatest number of accidents in which school-age children were hit by cars occurred in the hours between 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. From 2007 through 2011, in the hour starting at 3 p.m, there were 460 such accidents; 4 p.m., 384 accidents; 5 p.m., 408 accidents; 6 p.m., 399 accidents; and 7 p.m., 285 accidents.
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