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Photo Radar in Work Zones

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Photo Radar in Work Zones

Gus Philpott
Woodstock Advocate
August 25, 2007

Have you been caught on “candid camera” by the Illinois State Police for speeding in a Work Zone on an Illinois highway or on the Tollway?

The 45MPH Work Zone speed limit is in effect 24/7, whether or not workers are present. Does anyone else in this state slow down in the Work Zone, or am I the only one?

I’ve been accused of being a hazard on the highway by driving 45MPH in the right lane of a 45MPH Work Zone. And I am… no doubt about it. You’d better believe I keep a sharp eye on my rear-view mirror for idiots screaming up behind me in Work Zones. While I am ever ready to punch the accelerator (and cross my fingers; no worries about whiplash from fast accelerator in my Beetle) to avoid being rear-ended, I do obey the legal posted 45MPH speed limit in Work Zones. And I obey it to the unnecessary end of the Work Zone, which is at least one-half mile past the end of “visible construction”, as the engineers like to call the last cone or barricade on the highway shoulder.

Requiring drivers to maintain a 45MPH speed limit on an open highway for one-half mile past the last point of construction has got to be one of the dumbest decisions ever made regarding highway speed limits. It must be a “rule” in the Manual of Standards that all traffic engineers keep under their pillows, and heaven help the lowly highway engineer who moves an End Work Zone Speed Limit closer.

But back to PhotoRadar. If you come upon a Work Zone with 45MPH Speed Limit signing, slow down! You’ve seen the “Hit a Worker - $10,000 Fine, 14 Yrs. Jail” signs. Not likely, since the judges in this state won’t even send a DUI offender to jail. On the other hand, you don’t want to chance it. More importantly, you don’t want to injure or kill a highway worker. Or yourself. 85% of the fatalities in Work Zones are drivers, not highway workers, per IDOT’s FAQ webpage on Photo Speed Enforcement. I just hope I won’t be one of them while I am driving at 45MPH in a Work Zone.

If you don’t slow down? A warning sign will indicate that PhotoRadar is in use. According to the FAQs, you will be shown your speed by a speed indicator device connected to a separate radar unit. If you still don’t slow down, your photo is immortalized in digits and you can expect a ticket by Certified Mail and a required appearance in court. The fine? $375 minimum! ($250 fine, plus $125 mandatory extra that goes for more photo enforcement).

Someone asked a State Trooper one day if he had a quota for tickets. “Nah,” he said. “They let me write as many as I want.” That trooper gets an A+ in my book.

They are not writing enough tickets. I have seen only one driver slow down in a Work Zone, and that’s only because I looked in my own mirror. The cops don’t even slow down. Perhaps if the cops slowed down, everyone else would, too.

How about it, Troopers and Officers and Deputies? Will you slow down and obey posted speed limits? Will you obey them on every non-emergency call? If it’s an emergency, use your lights or siren. Otherwise, stick to the speed limit and stop at the stop signs and red lights. Sure, response times will lengthen, but it’s not an emergency. As response times for non-emergencies increase, people will get angry and finally approve additional funding for you.

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