Chicago, IL (Law Firm Newswire) February 6, 2014 – In their first two weeks in fall 2013, Chicago’s new speed cameras logged 233,886 speeding violations.
Critics say the cameras are more about generating city revenue than guarding citizen safety, but proponents point out that the devices are already having the desired effect of reducing speeding. A reduction in inappropriate high-speed driving is expected to reduce the number of auto accidents.
“Speeding is a major cause of traffic accidents that often lead to injury or even death,” said Paul Greenberg, a Chicago car accident attorney. “No one likes getting a ticket, but stricter enforcement of the law does reduce speeding.”
The first nine cameras were placed in four “safety zones” near city parks, and only issued warnings at first. However, according to one analysis, if just those nine cameras issued tickets instead of warnings during their first 45 days, they would have generated $13.9 million in revenue.
Early data shows that Chicagoans are slowing down. According to information from the city, speeding violations have dropped by 50 percent in the safety zones. This surprised even city officials, who said that the speeding problem was worse than they thought.
Each camera began issuing actual tickets after a 30-day grace period. For the first cameras installed, those grace periods ended in October. Drivers traveling six to 10-mph over the speed limit will receive a $30 fine, and drivers traveling 11-mph or more over the limit face a $100 ticket. Mayor Rahm Emanuel said that in order to “ease the transition,” tickets will only be issued to drivers going 11-mph or more over the limit during an initial time period. It is unclear how long that period will last.
The city planned to install 105 cameras in 50 locations by early 2014, and they are well on track to meet that goal.
Currently, Chicago is facing a budget shortfall of $339 million. The city estimated that the speed cameras will bring in between $40 million and $60 million in revenue for the city each year. That revenue estimate did account for a prediction that many drivers would slow down. If violations continued at their pre-camera rate, revenue from the program would reach into hundreds of millions of dollars.
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