Open thread: Should the Illinois legislature grant driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants?

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Photo of Wacker Drive traffic in Chicago by John Iwanski. 

The Illinois legislature is expected to consider a bill to allow people here illegally to obtain a driver’s license after going through the same procedures as people who are currently allowed to obtain a driver’s license (exams and fees, etc.). The bill is still being drafted.

This is an “open thread”, designed to spark a discussion. I’ve attempted to present all the latest news and facts on this issue, but I’ve not found any opposing viewpoints except for a debate in Michigan (see Further reading at the end). 

On Friday, November 16, the Chicago Sun-Times editorial board called for legislation to be passed, citing these benefits:

  • To get the licenses, illegal immigrants would have to pass the same vision, written and road tests as someone getting a regular license. If that leads to more driving training, it could make the roads safer.
  • Police officers making a stop would know who is driving the car. With the threat of deportation lessened, illegal immigrants would have less of a motivation to leave the scene of an accident.
  • Families would be less likely to see a family member deported after a routine traffic stop.
  • Health care providers would have an easier time identifying patients. If an illegal alien with contagious spinal meningitis goes into a coma, for example, it’s difficult to identify the patient’s contacts, who need to be treated. A visitor’s license would make that possible because it would contain personal data.
  • Backers of the measure say New Mexico experienced a huge drop in the number of uninsured drivers after licenses were made available in 2003. That doesn’t square, however, with numbers from the Insurance Research Council, which lists New Mexico as the state with the second-highest number of uninsured drivers. But if granting visitor’s licenses persuades even some illegal immigrants to get insurance, that could lower rates for all of us and benefit accident victims.

Continue reading Open thread: Should the Illinois legislature grant driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants?

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Speed cameras: There’s more than meets the eye (updated)

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This map shows that 58.8% of Chicago streets, excluding highways, are eligible for speed camera enforcement. Open the map.

The Expired Meter has been tracking the speed camera issue very well. (Here’s our coverage.) Along with reporting that an ordinance would be introduced to alderman at tomorrow’s monthly City Council meeting, it reported Monday on an interview with Alderman Waguespack who had been briefed on the city’s speed camera goals:

Originally, city officials claimed existing red light camera locations would be utilized to do double duty and be retrofitted to also do speed enforcement.

But, according to Waguespack’s understanding of the briefing presented by officials from the Mayor’s office, Chicago Police Department and Chicago Department of Transportation, the city’s long range goal is to install speed cameras at 1,800 intersections near school and parks under the auspices of slowing down drivers through $50 to $100 fines for speeding near these intersections. The state law calls for cameras to be used within a 1/8 of a mile safety zone surrounding the schools and parks. [They can be used in those areas, and in no other areas.] Continue reading Speed cameras: There’s more than meets the eye (updated)

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Clearing up some confusion about the Bloomingdale Trail fundraising process

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Rahm Emanuel at yesterday’s press conference

Monday morning when Steven read the awesome news on the Sun-Times website (apparently the Mayor’s Office offered them the scoop on this) that the city has raised the last $9 million needed to start construction on the Bloomingdale Trail, his first reaction was annoyance. You can find more details about the exciting plans for the trail in most of the other local news outlets, so if you don’t mind today I’ll focus on this somewhat nitpicky issue.

Why was Steven irritated? Because of what he heard at last Thursday’s community meeting at Yates Elementary in Humboldt Park, where citizens were invited to provide input on the preliminary design ideas for the 2.7-mile trail and “linear park.”

Continue reading Clearing up some confusion about the Bloomingdale Trail fundraising process

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Mayor’s comments to Chicago Tribune about speed cameras

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Crossing the street shouldn’t be so daunting that you see a cross on the other side. Photo by Gabriel Michael. 

I posted Saturday a link to the Chicago Tribune’s article about their interview with Mayor Emanuel. They also published the transcript of that 90 minute talk, which I didn’t see until after publishing the post. I’m not going to stop following the speed camera issue. It’s directly related to street safety and active transportation and I’ve not found good research that shows that speed cameras don’t reduce speeding.

Notice in the third paragraph of the first excerpt that Mayor Emanuel is committing all resources (which I interpret as revenues from speeding tickets issued by the automated speed camera enforcement system) to “increasing public safety for children near schools and parks”. The act, now an Illinois law since last Monday, includes specific directives on how the money can be spent although one of them is extremely broad.

Here are some excerpts from that interview I think are relevant to the discussion of speed camera placement in Chicago. They are not the most key in whether or not we should have cameras, but comment on how the City administration is handling the public information campaign.  Continue reading Mayor’s comments to Chicago Tribune about speed cameras

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Weekend open thread: Speed cameras, yea or nay?

Watch this video of a small experiment conducted by Volkswagen in Sweden where people who sped funded a lottery that those who didn’t speed were automatically entered into.

Watch The Speed Camera Lottery on YouTube.

Will speed cameras successfully reduce speeding and injuries in Chicago? Would you support such a speed camera lottery? Do you ever think the speed camera lottery would “die”, meaning that people would stop speeding and the lottery would no longer have revenue? Continue reading Weekend open thread: Speed cameras, yea or nay?

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What speed camera legislation means for Chicago (updated)

See all of our speed camera coverage

Governor Quinn signed legislation, public act SB965, on Monday morning to allow any municipality in Illinois with greater than 1 million inhabitants to construct and operate an “automated speed enforcement system”. There’s already a lot of misinformation and I intend to correct the record. I also present information gathered from multiple research studies on the impacts of speed cameras.

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A car crash on North Avenue at Kedzie Avenue, in the new safety zone around Humboldt Park. There’s not a red light camera here but there could be a speed camera in the near future. From 2005-2010, there have been 22 injuries to pedestrians and pedalcyclists at this intersection, inflicted in automobile crashes.

The law is an amendment to the red light camera law. It is not the first time speed cameras have been allowed in Illinois. In 2004, Illinois passed the Automated Traffic Control Systems in Highway Construction or Maintenance Zones Act (view it), enabling speed cameras to be used in work zones on highways. The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) and the Illinois State Police (ISP) quickly deployed mobile speed camera vans – I discuss the study of this pilot project in the section, “Do they really make a difference?”. Continue reading What speed camera legislation means for Chicago (updated)

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