University of Illinois Chicago Study Finds Speeder Cameras Save Lives

The University of Illinois at Chicago (“UIC”) department of Urban Policy and Planning release a years long study regarding the safety and efficacy of Chicago’s speeder camers. The whole study can be found here.

The finding that has grabbed most of the headlines is that speeder cameras disproportionately ticket black and brown drivers over white drivers. “More particularly Black drivers are getting speed tickets. And the question then became why,” said Stacey Sutton, associate professor of UIC’s Department of Urban Planning and Policy. “Roadway density is different. Population density, there are fewer businesses for people yet so there may be a good propensity to speed in those areas. And that we’re seeing that would explain some of it.”

The study found that red light cameras also ticket minorities disproportionately. “Thirteen percent of all cameras within 350 feet of the freeway,” Sutton said, adding that many cameras near freeways ticket more. They are also more likely to ticket minorities because, she said, “Twenty-one percent are in majority-Black neighborhoods.”

Also interestently, the study did conclude the speeder cameras do make city streets safer. researchers found that speed cameras reduced fatal and serious crashes by 15%. According the data pulled by the City Streetsblog site found that Chicago speed cameras are doing their job by reducing the number of traffic injuries and deaths (at least in the areas where the cameras are located). The comparison of car crash data from 2012-13 (before CDOT installed the cameras) and 2018-19 found that while serious injury and fatal crashes increased by 21 percent citywide during this six-year period, the increase was only 2 percent within the eighth-mile zones near the cameras. And while speed-related crashes spiked by 64 percent citywide during this period, they only went up by 18 percent in camera zones.

It would be fair for city officials to argue that the speeder cameras were not implemented as just a money grab, which was what many critics (including me) argued when they were installed. Many, including myself, jumped to this conclusion because of all the studies performed on red light cameras up to that point found that they were safety neutral at best. That is, they provided no significant safety benefit at the intersections where they were installed. I think this is good news. But where does the city go next? Do they install more cameras? I think the answer could be a study into stretches of the city streets that are most dangerous. It needs to be determined if speeder cameras could help slow down the amount of car crashes in the most dangerous roads.

If you or a loved one has been seriously injured in a Chicago car accident or Chicago truck accident, then call Chicago personal injury lawyer, Aaron J. Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076.