Starting in July, drivers who speed through construction zones on Illinois highways could get a surprise in the mail: a photo of themselves behind the wheel and a $375 speeding ticket.
As part of a crackdown on speeding in construction zones, Illinois state troopers will rove the state in two "photo enforcement" vans equipped with cameras and radars.
One van will operate in construction zones in the northern part of the state, the other in the southern part of the state. State troopers will drive the vans from one construction zone to another, then gauge speeds and take photos of drivers and license plates from the vans.
The launch of the photo enforcement program was announced Wednesday as state transportation officials gear up for the highway construction season. The measure is one of several going into effect this year that will try to reduce accidents in highway maintenance and construction zones.
There were 44 work zone fatalities in 2003, including five construction workers, according to Matt Vanover, of the Illinois Department of Transportation. Of those, two workers were at construction sites in the Metro East area, Vanover said.
In response to the number of work zone fatalities, Gov. Rod Blagojevich established the Work Zone Safety Task Force in 2003, Vanover said.
In August 2004, Blagojevich signed two bills - one allowing the camera patrols, and another to increase penalties for speeding in work zones.
Under the latter law, first-time work zone speeders, including those caught on camera, could get a fine of $375, $125 of which will go to pay off-duty state troopers who provide added enforcement in the work zones. Second-time offenders could get $1,000 fine and, if they are convicted twice within two years, could lose their drivers license for 90 days.
The higher fines went into effect in January.
Such devices have not been used in Missouri, but troopers take enforcing construction speed zones seriously, said Cpl. Al Nothum of the Missouri Highway Patrol.
"We don't use that type of technology," he said. "If we issue any tickets, it's due to a trooper issuing a ticket after witnessing a violation and pulling over the driver."
The Missouri Highway Patrol often puts troopers on overtime projects to give special attention to construction zones, such as the section of Interstate 44 between Eureka and Pacific where construction crews have the interstate down to two lanes, Nothum said. Two motorists have died in accidents on that stretch, with speed being a factor in the crashes, Nothum said.
And the Missouri Highway Patrol has its own tactics. Troopers in cruisers work in conjunction with unmarked cars that check speed with radar and then radio ahead. Highway Patrol airplanes also monitor speed from the air and radio to troopers on the ground who can issue tickets.
Illinois plans to outfit the new camera vans with leased equipment, and they should be ready to hit the road in July, Vanover said Wednesday. The state is also preparing signs that will be posted in the work zones, indicating to motorists that the speed limits will be enforced by camera.
The cameras inside the vans are designed to capture clear images of both the vehicle and the driver. If the photograph cannot identify the driver of a vehicle, the vehicle's owner will not be responsible for paying the ticket, authorities said.
The only existing photo enforcement currently in effect in Illinois is in Chicago, Vanover said. There, cameras mounted on poles take photographs of motorists driving through red lights at intersections.
lol, look at the bold! what in the hell? I have my windows tinted and its dark enough around the sides that you wont be able to see into my front windshield... and even if they did, i dont run a front plate. amazing. :roll: