April 29, 2024

An Illinois Policy Institute investigation found speed cameras in Chicago issued a ticket every 20 seconds last year


CONTACT: Micky Horstman (312) 607-4977

Chicago speed cameras rake in $102 million from drivers in 2023
An Illinois Policy Institute investigation found speed cameras in Chicago issued a ticket every 20 seconds last year

CHICAGO (April 29, 2024) – Even after Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson promised to eliminate the automated speed cameras, drivers were still hit with $102 million in fees during 2023, according to a new analysis by the Illinois Policy Institute.

More than half of the revenue, $55.3 million, was from tickets paid late with extra fees that more than doubled the fines.

Some of Chicago’s 169 speed cameras were especially profitable: 17 issued over $1 million in fines; of those, five issued over $2 million in tickets. Three of the $2 million cameras were on the South Side, issuing over 138,000 tickets combined.

Despite campaign promises to remove the cameras, Johnson’s 2024 budget banks on residents being issued $348 million in fines and fees from parking, speed camera, red-light camera and other traffic tickets. That’s $46 million more than was budgeted last year.

“Chicago’s cameras have turned out to be a huge cash cow for the city, and despite promises from Mayor Johnson on the campaign trail, they don’t appear to be going away. Unfortunately, these types of automated ticketing systems disproportionately harm those who can least afford it,” said Bryce Hill, director of fiscal and economic research for the Illinois Policy Institute. “Lowering the ticketing threshold was a cheap money grab by the city, with little impact on public safety. Instead of upholding his promise to low-income communities, Johnson’s leaning on them for more revenue.”

Since speed cameras started operating in 2014, Chicago has issued $879 million in fines through 9,132,409 tickets. When Lori Lightfoot lowered the ticketing threshold in 2021 to just 6 mph above the speed limit, the ticketing rate doubled, with 5,349,626 of all speed camera tickets issued in the past three years.

Chicago’s cash cow:

  • There were 3 tickets issued for every 5 Chicagoans, amounting to one ticket every 20 seconds.
  • The No. 1 camera generated more than $2.5 million in fines. It was at 901 N. Clark St. near Washington Square Park in the Near North Side community.
  • Chicagoans on the city’s North Side received 44% of tickets issued in 2023. Motorists on the West Side received the second-highest share of automated speeding tickets at 26%.
  • Mayor Johnson’s motorcade racked up $1,640 worth of traffic citations. Eight of Johnson’s tickets were from speed cameras.

To read more about Chicago’s speed cameras, visit illin.is/speedcam2023.

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