Amount of speeding tickets written triples in one year

By Rachel Rubin

The Champaign Police Department released statistics earlier this month that showed a threefold increase in speeding tickets written within the year.

The increase in tickets is due to a speeding grant from the Illinois Department of Transportation that funds overtime work hours and vehicle costs for heavier traffic enforcement in designated areas. As of Nov. 1, the grant will be funding a new coverage area on University Avenue between Mattis and Wright Street.

“The whole idea is to go out and write speeding tickets,” said Sgt. Dave Griffet of the Champaign Police Department.

After listening to neighborhood concerns and complaints of traffic enforcement in Champaign, the police department implemented a series of processes in addition to arranging for the grant.

According to the City of Champaign, an additional radar trailer was put in neighborhoods to display the driver’s speed, and a link was added to the city’s Web site for civilians to communicate transportation concerns.

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An additional requirement of the grant is for the police department to conduct six one-month speed enforcement campaigns.

According to Griffet, the grant has a quota for the officers of two speeding tickets per hour. According to the press release, during September 2008 the grant resulted in 294 speeding violations, compared to the 83 speeding violations from September 2007.

The police department was given $34,000 in grant money last year, but roughly half was spent. This year they came up with a more sufficient means of spending, Griffet said.

“We decided to ensure that officers work in the grant slots first, so we can use up that money before we use up our own,” Griffet said. A special traffic unit was added to the police department to obtain data from the Illinois Department of Transportation identifying the busiest intersections in need of additional enforcement, according to the city.

Current slots include Windsor Road, from Neil Street to Staley Road; Church Street, from Prospect Avenue to Mattis Avenue; Bradley Avenue, from Prospect Avenue to Duncan Road; and Neil Street, from Windsor Road to Interstate Drive.

In a comparison of traffic surveys from October 2007 and October 2008, there was a 27 percent reduction of speeding violations on Bradley Avenue, but 0 percent on Neil Street.

Ten percent of drivers reduced their speed on Church Street, and two percent on Windsor Road. Because of the success on Bradley Avenue, the police department will be replacing the slot with University Avenue starting Nov. 1.

Griffet said that Windsor Road resulted in four times the amount of speeding tickets written in any other grant slot and will continue to be a monitored area.

“When people don’t correct their behavior it brings in additional presence, which brings additional enforcement,” Griffet said.

Increasing numbers of ticket fines also result in increased revenue being brought to the city.

“Some of the revenues from increased traffic tickets covers the cost of traffic enforcement,” said Richard Schnuer, finance director for the city. “The remainder of the revenue goes to the city’s general fund.”

Daniel Kennedy, a law professor at the University and lawyer for Kennedy Law Offices in Champaign, said he has not seen any increases of violators looking for representation.