CHICAGO — Speed cameras located near schools and parks in Chicago will begin ticketing drivers for going 6-10 miles per hour over the limit starting in March, officials said Monday.
Beginning January 15, drivers spotted going 6-10 mph over the limit in so-called “Children’s Safety Zones” will receive a warning by mail. This “warning period” lasts until March 1, after which speeding drivers will get a $35 ticket in the mail instead.
Areas which have a speed camera are marked by signs and usually have a limit of around 30 mph, with those found near schools generally enforced from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. while those in park zones are often active from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m., 365 days a year.
Cameras use 3D tracking radar to identify any cars traveling faster than the posted speed limit before capturing an image of the vehicle.
Previously, drivers would only receive a ticket for going 10 mph over the limit, while those found going 11 mph or more over the limit will continue receiving a $100 ticket.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot included “enhanced fine enforcement” changing the cameras’ limits as part of a budget which aimed to address the city’s $1.2 billion shortfall.
The change is expected to raise millions for the city, but caught many by surprise because Lightfoot has railed against similar measures in the past.
“The speed camera issue I think is distinct from some of the other fines and fees because people choose to speed or they do not,” Lightfoot said during an interview with WGN in October.
In announcing the change Monday, city officials said it was done in response to an “alarming increase in vehicle speeding and traffic fatalities.”
A study by the Northwestern University Transportation Center found in April that there was a decrease in crashes after the pandemic reached Chicago, but the severity of injuries increased. Experts said it was potentially due to drivers going faster on emptier roads.
Cook County saw 269 fatal crashes in 2018, 294 in 2019 and 297 in 2020 according to state data.