Chicago’s first speed cameras at just four locations issued warnings to more than 233,000 speeders in 45 days, violations that would have totaled $13.8 million in tickets, according to data released by the city today.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel has touted his speed camera program as a way to improve traffic safety for children near the city’s parks and schools, but the early warning violations from Chicago’s first speed cameras are the latest indicator that the fledgling program could be a financial windfall for the city.
Emanuel has projected $15 million in speed camera revenue for the remainder of 2013, with cameras at the first four locations beginning to issue fines Oct. 21 and the city planning to install more than 100 speed cameras at 50 locations by the end of the year. The Tribune reported in August that the city could gain far more in ticket revenue, based on the results of camera tests last December by the finalists for the speed camera contract.
The results from the soon-to-end warning period, first reported Thursday by WBEZ-FM, bolster that notion.
In 45 days, nine cameras near four city parks would have generated $13.3 million in fines, based on the 222,843 warning violations the city said it issued during that time period. That total, projected over an entire year for those four locations, is more than $106 million.
In just five days this month, four additional cameras near three other city parks would have issued $535,9555 in fines, based on 10,412 violations logged at those locations.
Under the city’s speed camera ordinance, owners of vehicles going from 6 to 10 mph over the speed limit will receive a $35 ticket and those clocked at 11 mph or more over the limit will be tagged for $100 fines.
Drivers only receive fines after each camera has a 30-day period of only issuing warnings. After that grace period, drivers also are issued one warning before they receive their first fine.
From Aug. 26 through Oct. 9, the city’s first four speed camera locations issued 138,131 warnings to drivers going between 6 to 10 mph over the limit and 84,712 warnings to those driving 11 mph or more over the limit, according to the city. From Oct. 5 through Oct. 9, the city’s other three camera locations at parks issued 7,773 warnings for drivers speeding between 6 to 10 mph over the limit and 2,639 to those driving 11 mph or more over the limit.
Scott Kubly, the city transportation official who oversees the program, said the number of speeders were more than the city expected, but so, too, was the percentage by which warning citations dropped once the drivers began receiving warnings.
The total number of warnings issued on the first day each of the nine cameras operated totaled 11,884, the city said. By two weeks later that number dropping to 6,724 – a decrease of 43 percent.
“Yes, there were a lot of speeders, but I think the more interesting thing is how effective the warning period has been,” Kubly said, adding that the city didn’t expect such a significant drop until after it started issuing fines.
The warning violations are the latest projection that the city stands to reap millions from its speed camera program.
The Tribune previously reported that during a December trial, two companies vying for the city’s speed camera contract clocked more than 93,000 speeders at four locations – violations that would have totaled $4.7 million in tickets in one month, or $56 million over the course of an entire year.
Kubly said the city had not adjusted its 2013 revenue projection of $15 million and he still expects to collect between $40 million and $60 million next year when cameras are up and running at 50 locations.
“These are warnings and not tickets for a reason,” Kubly said. “We expect behavior to change dramatically, which it already has, and we think it’s going to change even more.”
Chicago’s first speed cameras issued warnings to more than 233,000 speeders in 45 days, violations that would have totaled $13.8 million in tickets, according to city data released Friday.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel has touted his speed camera program as a way to improve traffic safety for children near the city’s parks and schools, but the early warning violations are the latest indicator that the fledgling program could be a financial windfall for his administration.
On Friday, the mayor tried to soften the imminent blow to drivers’ pocketbooks by announcing that at least for a while, the city would only issue $100 tickets for drivers caught going 11 mph and more over the speed limit. Those caught driving 6-10 mph over would not be issued $35 tickets as allowed under city ordinance.