Deborah Loeff, MD, speaks on city's plans for speed cameras

Nov. 7, 2011

Watch a video of Deborah Loeff, MD, speaking at the press conference.

Pediatric trauma surgeon Deborah Loeff, MD, was a key speaker at Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s Nov. 7 press conference on the installation of speed cameras near schools and parks in Chicago to reduce pedestrian accidents among children.

“Pedestrian injury is the second-leading cause of injury-related death in the United States for children between the ages of 5 and 14,” said Loeff, a surgeon at Comer Children’s Hospital’s trauma center, the only Level 1 trauma center devoted to children on the South Side of Chicago. During the previous five years, 25 percent of all children treated at Comer were pedestrians hit by a vehicle.

The injuries sustained from these accidents go far beyond lacerations, bone fractures, and injuries to the brain and internal organs, said Loeff, who pointed to the “long-term human cost” of missing school and the possibility of permanent disabilities.

The mayor stressed that bringing speed cameras to Chicago’s streets is part of a comprehensive strategy to protect children. From 2005 to 2009, there were 7,700 accidents involving pedestrians within one-eighth of a mile of schools and parks, 25 percent of which were due to speeding vehicles. The speed cameras will be installed on roads heavily used by children based on accident data.

Loeff said that drivers should face a strong disincentive from speeding near children and advocated for continued support of trauma care centers: “Preservation of federal and state funding for our trauma centers must be preserved so that injured children and adults can continue to receive the life-saving care they need and deserve.”

Emanuel stressed that speed cameras are just one part of a broader program of child pedestrian safety initiatives that also include increasing the presence of crossing guards, teaching age-appropriate safety education, enforcing existing curfews, and using cameras inside and outside schools, while increasing pedestrian visibility.