Chicago speed camera tickets for drivers going 6-10mph over limit rake in millions for city: data

ByJason Knowles and Ann Pistone and Maggie Green WLS logo
Wednesday, May 17, 2023
Speed camera tickets for 6-10mph over limit rake in millions for city
Chicago speed camera tickets for drivers going 6-10 miles per hour over the speed limit have raked in millions of dollars for the city.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The City of Chicago is making millions of dollars on drivers going just slightly above the speed limit.

More than two years ago, Chicago started citing drivers going only 6-10 miles per hour over the limit. While some say streets are now safer, the I-Team has learned the overwhelming majority of revenue is coming from people breaking that controversial 6-10 miles per hour over the limit rule.

The city's 162 speed cameras are placed near parks and schools and they're making millions on drivers going 6-10 miles per hour over the limit.

"It's a money grab. We got cameras everywhere," said Diara Brooks who owns Scoop's Hair Mechanics, a barber shop and mechanic shop in the Auburn Gresham neighborhood.

Brooks has received several speed camera tickets for going 6-10 miles per hour over the speed limit.

"I'm not rich so when you add up these tickets. It's kind of overwhelming especially with the price of living in Chicago," she said.

When they were first introduced, before 2021, speed cameras in Chicago only ticketed drivers going 10mph or more over the speed limit. The city issued $35 tickets to vehicles traveling 10 mph over the limit and $100 tickets, for exceeding the limit by 11 mph or more.

But in March of 2021 former Mayor Lori Lightfoot added a rule, allowing $35 dollar citations for drivers going 6-10 miles over the limit.

Some contest or pay them in traffic court.

"You know I know that they're trying keep everything safe but I just think it's about money. It's just about money," driver Ameshia Odom said. "My tickets was basically just racking up racking up."

The I-Team looked into how much money the city has made from those $35 tickets since the new law went into effect.

They found that 60% of tickets come from those driving 6-10 miles per hour over the limit, generating almost $121,700,000 for the city. Compare that to about $63,500,000 made from only 11% of speed camera tickets that come from drivers going 11 miles per hour, or more, over the speed limit. The remaining 29% of tickets are warnings with no cost to drivers.

"This is a revenue generating system," said Mark Wallace of Citizens to Abolish Red Light Cameras, which advocates for the city to get rid of speed cameras. "The fines double when they can't pay the $35."

The city council had a chance to reverse Lightfoot's rule in July 2022, but the measure failed by a vote of 26 to 18. Wallace hopes Mayor Brandon Johnson will reverse it, but 1st Ward Alderperson Daniel La Spata wants to keep the lower limit.

"As a parent right now I walk my daughter in her stroller down Fullerton and Milwaukee to get to daycare in the morning. I am very glad for those being very safe streets, for me and my 8-month-old," he said.

The City's department of finance collects money from tickets and the Chicago Department of Transportation runs the speed camera program. Both agencies tell the I-Team that drivers are slowing down.

The city said in the first year after the new threshold went into effect there was a 15% reduction in the number of tickets for vehicles traveling 11 miles per hour or more over the speed limit. They said in the second year of the new law, there was a 2% reduction in tickets issued for going 6-10 miles per hour over the limit.

"Even small reductions in speed can lead to significant safety improvements," the city said.

The ABC Data Team also found out where most of the lower threshold tickets are being issued in the last two years. The top revenue generator is at 536 E Morgan Drive, in Washington Park, issuing more than $4,720,000 in tickets.

Last year the city launched the Clear Path Relief Program, providing low-income motorists who qualify an opportunity to reduce speed camera fines and other vehicle-related debt.

The ABC7 I-Team also reached out to Mayor Johnson's office about the 6-10 mile per hour rule and asked if he would consider reversing it. A spokesperson said the mayor's office is in the process of filling positions to review policies.

The #2 money maker for 6-10 tickets is at 4909 N Cicero Avenue raking in more than $3,700,00, and the #3 biggest revenue generator is around the corner at 4831 Lawrence making $3,650,000. Both of those cameras are located within .2 miles of each other, on the city's Northwest side, around the small Ashmore Ark Play lot. The entrance to that park is on a different side street.

Data on Chicago speed camera revenue

-5,783,898 tickets from March 1, 2021 to April 5, 2023 (last day data was available in the request)

-635,941 tickets issued for speeds over 11 mph, bringing in $63,500,750

-3,481,349 tickets issued for speeds between 6 and 10 mph, bringing in $121,681,975

-Remainder of tickets were speed warnings, $0

-$121,507,015 were collected from $35 tickets.

-The data also shows a large number of $18 tickets--$174,960 worth.

Top Revenue Generators By Location

6-10 mph tickets:

1. 536 E Morgan Dr (CHI029) - 135131 tickets totaling $4,720,031

2. 4909 N Cicero Ave (CHI149) - 106,133 tickets totaling $3,712,819

3. 4831 Lawrence Ave (CHI147) - 104,336 tickets totaling $3,650,961

4. 2705 W Irving Park (CHI079) - 93,377 tickets totaling $3,266,104

5. 1111 N Humboldt (CHI010) - 89,642 tickets totaling $3,134,019

6. 4124 W Foster Ave (CHI003) - 85,326 tickets totaling $2,985,441

7. 445 W 127th St (CHI045) - 85,205 tickets totaling $2,977,806

8. 1142 W Irving Park (CHI095) - 74,433 tickets totaling $2,603,812

9. 8020 W Forest Preserve Ave (CHI174) - 73,778 tickets totaling $2,581,176

10. 115 N Ogden (CHI077) - 70,148 tickets totaling $2,452,052

11 mph tickets:

1. 445 W 127th St (CHI045) - 33,800 tickets totaling $3,374,950

2. 4909 N Cicero Ave (CHI149) - 21,184 tickets totaling $2,117,250

3. 10318 S Indianapolis (CHI120) -21,041 tickets totaling $2,100,900

4. 2900 W Ogden (CHI021) - 18,442 tickets totaling $1,841,950

5. 536 E Morgan Dr (CHI029) - 16,590 tickets totaling $1,654,850

6. 2705 W Irving Park (CHI079) - 16,354 tickets totaling $1,634,350

7. 8020 W Forest Preserve Ave (CHI174) - 15,778 tickets totaling $1,576,850

8. 4124 W Foster Ave (CHI003) - 13,252 tickets totaling $1,324,450

9. 4831 Lawrence Ave (CHI147) - 12,985 tickets totaling $1,298,150

10. 3843 S Western (CHI007) - 12,958 tickets totaling $1,294,800