Chicago speed cameras write 1 ticket every 12 seconds
Revenue projections estimate red-light cameras will generate 2.7 million $35 tickets in a full year, bringing in $95.5 million for the city.
Chicago issued 52,498 red-light camera warning notices to motorists in the first week of Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s stricter speeding ticket policy – that’s about 1 ticket every 12 seconds.
Those 52,498 warning tickets went out during one week in January, but on March 1 the city started sending out the real thing. Tickets now are $35 for driving 6 to 10 mph over the speed limit and $100 for driving faster than that under Lightfoot’s new policy that lowered the threshold for speed camera tickets.
A ticket every 12 seconds could mean nearly $100 million a year for the cash-strapped city.
The mayor said the decision is in response to the 139 traffic fatalities that occurred in Chicago during 2020, a 45% spike in traffic related deaths from 2019.
While Lightfoot champions the stricter standards as imperative to “keep communities safe,” she has drawn sharp criticism for appearing to renege on her promise to reform the city’s fines and fees program after previously saying it was regressive and focused on generating revenue, not safety.
North Side Ald. Maria Hadden expressed similar concerns over Lightfoot’s new policy, seeing it as just another way of “nickeling and diming” Chicago residents who are already struggling.
Chicago motorists will soon find they’ll be paying for even more than just a ticket when they’re caught speeding under the lower threshold. According to a 2020 NerdWallet study, drivers convicted of speeding are likely to see an increase in their insurance rates, which could cost drivers up to 6.85 times the price of the actual ticket in insurance premiums.
While Chicagoans are being asked to pay more for the promise of public safety, research suggest the speed cameras’ cousins, red-light cameras, actually increase the overall number of collisions.
Studies from Case Western Reserve University in 2018 and the Chicago Tribune in 2014 suggest while the number of T-bone collisions decrease with the use of red-light cameras by 15%, the number of non-angle collisions, such as rear-end crashes, increase by 22%.
Another study by the Chicago Tribune in 2017 found the Illinois Department of Transportation determined over half of the intersections at which red-light cameras where placed were among the safest in the state prior to installation. A quarter of current cameras were granted permits in spots with no red-light-related crashes in at least three years.
What’s clear is the city is relying on a big increase in fines and fees to balance Lightfoot’s 2021 budget. Revenue projections based on the first week of the policy’s grace period in January estimate the cameras will generate 2.7 million $35 tickets in a full year, bringing in $95.5 million for the city.
Lightfoot expects to raise an additional $38 million next year from fines, forfeitures and penalties, including the speed camera tickets as the city works to close a $1.2 billion budget deficit.
To see a map of Chicago red-light camera locations, click here.