Will Illinois lawmakers approve speed camera bill?

Several silver cars in traffic

Despite the ongoing efforts of authorities, speeding drivers pose a serious threat to other motorists in Libertyville, Illinois. In 2012, speeding contributed to over 270,000 car accidents in the state, according to the Illinois Department of Transportation. More than 60,000 of those accidents resulted in injury, and 886 caused fatalities. A bill introduced in March may address this threat by changing state speed camera laws to allow the installation of cameras throughout Illinois.

Bill background

Speed camera installation is currently permitted in Illinois communities with populations over 1 million. Chicago is the only community to meet this criterion. House Bill 4632, which would eliminate the population requirement, has garnered mixed responses from lawmakers and drivers, according to the Quad-City Times and KWQC News. Some critics believe speed camera use should be limited because it may violate drivers’ rights to privacy or due process. However, supporters think the cameras could enhance law enforcement efforts, discourage dangerous driving and reduce accident rates.

Speeding contributes substantially to deadly accidents. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration cites speed as a factor in one-third of all fatal crashes. The National Safety Council attributes 13,000 annual fatalities to speeding. These fatalities are not limited to roads with high speed limits. According to the NSC, 47 percent of speeding fatalities occurred on roads with speed limits below 50 mph. More than 20 percent happened on roads with speed limits below 35 mph.

Speeding raises the risk of severe or fatal injuries by reducing reaction time and increasing the energy dispelled during the crash. According to the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety, crash forces increase exponentially relative to speed. When speed increases by just 50 percent –—from 40 mph to 60 mph, for example — crash energy increases by 125 percent, leading to significantly worse outcomes for the individuals involved.

Addressing speeding accidents

People injured by speeding drivers may obtain compensation if they prove the other driver was negligent. A driver who was traveling over the speed limit could be guilty of negligence per se, in which the driver’s traffic violation serves as adequate proof of negligence. A driver who was observing the posted speed limit may still be found negligent if the speed of travel was too high given factors such as visibility, weather or road conditions.

In Illinois, accident victims are not precluded from filing personal injury lawsuits if they were partly at fault. If the court finds that a speeding driver was at least 50 percent at fault in an accident, the victim may receive compensation. However, victims lose their right to seek compensation after the two-year statute of limitations passes. Considering this, victims can benefit from seeking legal guidance soon after an accident.