Chicago speed cameras issue tickets every 11 seconds under new policy

January 4, 2022

Illinois Policy Institute investigation found city experienced multi-million dollar windfall after speed camera limit dropped to 6 mph

PRESS RELEASE from the
ILLINOIS POLICY INSTITUTE

CONTACT: Melanie Krakauer (312) 607-4977

Chicago speed cameras issue tickets every 11 seconds under new policy
Illinois Policy Institute investigation found city experienced multi-million dollar windfall after speed camera limit dropped to 6 mph

CHICAGO (Jan. 4, 2022) — Chicago is the only city in Illinois to operate automatic speed cameras, and when they were programmed to be less tolerant in March 2021, revenues soared.

According to an original investigation by the Illinois Policy Institute, when Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot decreased the cameras’ ticket-issuing threshold to 6 mph from 10 mph, so many tickets were issued that the first 10 months of 2021 tallied as many tickets as were issued in the three prior years combined. Chicago speed cameras issued 2.3 million tickets in that period, about a ticket every 11 seconds.

That delivered a large cost to taxpayers: $73.8 million worth of tickets through October, according to open records requests by the Institute.

“The new speed camera ticketing policy has become a huge cash machine for a city constantly on the financial edge – without it demonstrating significant improvements to safety,” said Adam Schuster, senior director of budget and tax research for the Illinois Policy Institute. “The city should ban these cameras and stop using them to manage its perpetual budget shortfall and hefty debt. Ultimately, this is another cog in a nickel-and-dime strategy of arduous city taxes and fees passed onto hard-working Chicagoans.

How it works: Drivers speeding by 6 to 10 mph over the limit pay a $35 ticket, while drivers caught going 11 mph and over are fined $100. By churning out eight times more tickets than before the policy took effect, the city also made about $30 million more than it had in the past three years.

Who it hurts: Chicago speed cameras sent out 2.2 tickets for every household in the city during the first 10 months of 2021.

The breakdown: Chicago operates about 160 speed cameras. Nineteen speed cameras each generated over $1 million for the city in 10 months. Three cameras generated over $2 million and one speed camera brought in over $3 million worth of tickets. A majority of the most fine-producing cameras operate south of the Loop, in or near the city’s South Side

Safety first? 2021 Chicago traffic crash data did not show significantly fewer crashes. Citywide crash rates dropped March 1 when the policy began, but soon were back to normal rates observed prior to the pandemic emptying Chicago’s streets.

To view the full report, “Chicago’s speed cameras ticket 8X faster after limit drops to 6 mph,” visit illin.is/speedcameras.

For bookings or interviews, contact media@illinoispolicy.org or (312) 607-4977.