The fantastic website, DNA Info Chicago, published an interesting article about the statistics on Chicago’s speed cameras since 2013.
First a little background on Chicago’s red light cameras. The ordinance went into effect in 2013 and authorized the city to ticket drivers traveling 6-10 mph over the posted limit with a $35 fine. Violators traveling 11 mph over are fined $100. The speed cameras planted near parks are active when the parks are open, generally from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily and have a 30 mph speed limit. In school zones, the cameras are on from 7 a.m to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday when school is in session. The speed limit differs from 20 to 30 mph, depending on if children are present in the area.
The article revealed that of the 146 cameras around the city, only 21 (or 1/8) produced the majority of the $58 million the city has collected in fines since the program began in 2013.
The busiest 21 cameras are spread across the city, with 11 on the South Side, seven on the North Side and three on the West Side.The most productive camera can ring up more than $7,000 in fines a day, on average .
The busiest cameras tend to be on stretches where drivers feel comfortable letting loose. The top four revenue-producing cameras, for example, are found on long stretches of open road, sometimes near expressways or industrial areas, with little cross traffic.
I think this information is very interesting because the city has touted the speed cameras as a public safety ordinance, to help protect children and pedestrians in park and school areas. Yet, according to these statistics, the majority of tickets are issued in wide open thoroughfares with very little congestion. Areas that you would assume would have the most of the cameras would be focused on these dense areas. Yes, we all realize that speeding is a leading cause of car accidents and traffic fatalities. In fact, I posted a quote yesterday from the Illinois State Police that said 40% of all traffic fatalities in Illinois were caused by speeding. But, are these cameras actually effective and preventing speeding in areas that require them the most? This article leads us to answer no.