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Thursday
Nov262015

Speed Cameras and "Questionable" Tickets

The Tribune published a story last week on issues around speed camera tickets.  For those of you following Chicago’s red light cameras, this has a familiar theme.  The gist is the Tribune found 110,000 "questionable" speeding tickets totaling $2.4 million have been issued in the past two years.
The Tribune found specifically (snipped from Ars Technica summary):
22,000 tickets for speeding near parks and another 
11,000 tickets near parks that were closed for the night. 
28,000 citations "were issued at cameras plagued by problems with warning signs that did not meet the minimum legal requirements." 
62,000 tickets were given during the summer "when school activity is so limited that drivers are left to guess whether school is in session or not."
The city told the Tribune that it is refunding payments made on 23,000 tickets.
Over in the Chicago Reader, there was a counterpunch on the Tribune's work:
In four long, mind-numbingly detailed articles, covering the better part of eight pages of newsprint, the reporters described how the cameras have issued roughly $2.4 million in questionable tickets. That represents about 2.6 percent of the roughly $81 million in tickets produced over the last two years.
They quoted a dozen or so drivers who complained that the tickets they received were unfair because they were issued while parks were closed, children weren’t present in school zones, or warning signs were missing, contrary to state law and city ordinance.
. . . 
None of the drivers who cried foul in the Trib's story claimed they weren’t speeding. And since Chicago only issues speed cam tickets to motorists going ten mph or more over the limit, we know all of the people who were ticketed in 30 mph zones were driving dangerously fast. Faulty cams or not, those drivers deserved fines.
Claffey added that the city’s speed cams are reducing injury crashes. A preliminary analysis found that crashes with injuries dropped by 4 percent citywide between 2012—the year before the first speed cams were installed—and 2014. However, injury crashes dropped 18 percent—a dramatic improvement—within the 21 safety zones where speed cams were installed in 2013. Severe and fatal crashes went down a full 22 percent.

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