Maybe we do need speed and red light cameras

Maybe we do need speed and red light cameras
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Maybe we do need speed and red light cameras

In teaching my son to drive, I get a front seat to the reckless driving of the “adults” who abuse traffic regulations, the rules of the road, and pose a real danger to the public. Drivers are speeding recklessly down streets, blowing red lights and stop signs, cutting off drivers who follow the posted speed limits, and honk and zig-zag to get ahead. We need speed cameras to catch these reckless motorists

By Ray Hanania

My son is learning how to drive. He follows the letter of the law, the speeds, signals and is respectful.

He’s doing the right thing, following the Rules of the Road exactly. As I drive with my son, I notice how everyone else isn’t following the law. They’re all breaking the laws all the time.

It doesn’t matter where we’re at. On LaGrange Road in Orland Park, Harlem Avenue in Palos Heights, or Cicero Avenue through Oak Lawn, Burbank and Chicago. People are driving recklessly, speeding and zigzagging through lanes to pass people at ridiculous speeds.

Like any parent teaching a child how to drive, I nervously pile-drive my right foot into the floor mat as my son hits the breaks, makes his turns and changes lanes all legally and perfectly. When you are a driver all your life, it’s not easy being a passenger in someone else’s car.



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But I realize what’s happening is that I am not used to someone driving according to the Rules of the Road. As drivers, we get sloppy. We take things for granted. I get it. We’re not criminals going 5 or 10 miles over the speed limit or gunning our engines to go through a Red Light. Sure, we make turns at the last minute with cars behind us. But those “soft violators” going a few miles over the speed limit are not the problem.

Aaron behind the wheel

There are drivers doing far worse, and getting away with it.

I can see putting red light cameras at intersections and slamming drivers who are really breaking the law with excessive speeds and clear Red Light violations issuing punishing $100 and $200 traffic fines.

But we know the system is corrupted. When they install a traffic camera, they cut the time on the Yellow Light down from 3 or 4 seconds to only 2 seconds to ensure they get a fine.

That’s wrong. Those companies should be blacklisted from receiving contracts and they should also be fined.

But a red light camera at an intersection that has a 4 second Yellow Light and a countdown crosswalk box, too, is a fair warning to drivers to slow down for the light.

The guy who guns it through the Yellow Light isn’t the problem. It’s the guy who sees the Yellow Light a half block away and then guns it through the Red Light that turns Red before the driver even enters the intersection. That happens all the time.

People driving 50 MPH down Harlem in Palos Heights where the speed limit is only 35. Where are the police when you need them? How do these Mario Andretti’s get away with driving the way they do?

It’s just wrong.

When my son was driving the Speed Limit down Cicero the other day a car behind us was honking because he wasn’t going faster.

These people are nuts. It’s not all drivers, but there’s a group that not only speeds but they speed excessively. A group that not only goes through the Yellow Light but guns it through a Red Light. They’re harassing other drivers who are abiding by the laws, changing lanes like maniacs, and they just don’t care.

If you can come up with a better system that nails those drivers, I’m all for it.

The problem is government greed. They’re not happy ticketing real speeders and Red Light violators. They want to boost their revenues because they’re doing a bad job running governments, like Mayor Emanuel in Chicago where records show that his speed and Red Light camera system have unfairly ticketed thousands.

How do you do the right thing when a politician is using a flawed system that doesn’t work?

We definitely need to do something. Speed cameras and Red Light cameras operated properly and fairly would be the right thing to do.

Can we trust government to do it right and use the system for safety not as a means of generating revenues to cover their wasteful spending?

That’s a tough issue to explain to my son.

(Ray Hanania is an award winning columnist and author, and former Chicago City Hall reporter. Email him at

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Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania is an award winning political and humor columnist who analyzes American and Middle East politics, and life in general. He is an author of several books.

"I write about three topics, the Middle East, politics and life in general. I often take my life experiences and offer them in an entertaining way to readers, and I take on the toughest topics like the Israel-Palestine conflict and don't pull any punches about what I feel is fair. But, my priority is always about writing the good story."

Hanania covered Chicago Politics and Chicago City Hall from 1976 through 1992. Hanania began writing in 1975 when he published The Middle Eastern Voice newspaper in Chicago (1975-1977). He later published “The National Arab American Times” newspaper which was distributed through 12,500 Middle East food stores in 48 American States (2004-2007).

Hanania writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at, and at, and at He has also published weekly columns in the Jerusalem Post newspaper,, Newsday Newspaper in New York, the Orlando Sentinel Newspapers, and the Arlington Heights Daily Herald.

Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem.

Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media. In 2009, Hanania received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. He is the recipient of the MT Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award. He was honored for his writing skills with two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild. In 1990, Hanania was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times editors for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.

His writings have also been honored by two national Awards from ADC for his writing, and from the National Arab American Journalists Association.

The managing editor of Suburban Chicagoland Online News website, Hanania's columns also appear in the Southwest News Newspaper Group of 8 newspapers.

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One comment on “Maybe we do need speed and red light cameras
  1. Ray Hanania says:

    I was driving down Harlem Avenue the other morning when a guy driving a black SUV with black tinted windows (I thought that was illegal) and bragging a license plate that started FOP followed by four numbers got behind me and was riding my rear bumper. I was going about 5 miles over the speed limit. He then got behind the car next to me and zig-zagged between lanes trying to pass us. He finally passed me and then spend up in front, but got blocked by two cars and I went around him, getting in front of him again. It was pretty reckless what he was doing and then I noticed a little tag on his car that said Fraternal Order of Police. What an asshole!!!! Here’s a guy who is in law enforcement, most likely a spoiled union boss being paid a fortune — to do what? — driving recklessly through Orland Park and then Tinley Park, and then turning onto the road to the Tinley Police Department just before the Speedway gas station.

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