Monday, June 05, 2006

June: Time to Buy a Ski Mask

A Chicago Tribune article tells how state police are using a photo radar system to nail speeders in the Dan Ryan Expressway construction project.
The 45 m.p.h. construction-zone limit is in effect around the clock, although under state law, the photo-radar vans are allowed to operate only when work is being done. Speed will be enforced by regular patrols at other times, officials said.
The 24-hour construction speed limit is the most ridiculous practice on Illinois highways. I could swear this wasn't always the case -- I seem to remember long ago seeing signs that said "when workers present" or something to that effect. In recent years, the state legislature has increased fines to a minimum of $375 for speeding tickets in construction zones, claiming that their goal is to prevent workers from being hurt. But if the speed limit and fines are always in force, how can they claim it is to protect the workers who are home in their beds? Virtually any sober, alert driver can safely drive well over 65 m.p.h. past a line of jersey barriers, barrels, or cones. Any $375 ticket written while no work is being done is simply revenue for the state -- the enforcement serves little useful purpose. In fact, having a reduced speed all the time only trivializes it. When I see lights flashing or message boards saying that workers are present, I pay attention. When I see an orange 45 m.p.h. sign, I just get annoyed (for example, one night around 1 AM I drove 15 miles on I-88 in rural Illinois on a one-lane road with a 45 m.p.h. speed limit and never even saw another car going in my direction.

The article provides useless information tagged on the end about fatalities in construction zones:
There were 26 deaths, including one construction worker, in work-zone accidents in Illinois last year. Thirty-nine fatalities, two of them workers, occurred in work zones in 2004. In 2003, 44 people were killed in work areas, five of them workers.
What makes this information useless? There is no mention of whether speed was an issue in any of those deaths. Without causality, how can readers assess the importance or value of speed limit enforcement?

Okay, now here is where the ski masks come in:
Under state legislation passed in 2004, tickets will not be issued if the photograph of the driver's face is not clear.
So there you go, folks. If they can't figure out who you are, they won't send you a ticket!

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