Today’s Headlines

  • Month-Long Speed Camera Test Finds 93K Violators at 4 Locations (Tribune)
  • Map of Upcoming Speed Camera Locations (Tribune)
  • Windfall From Speed Cameras Suggests Speeding Epidemic in Chicago (Systemic Failure)
  • Interviews With Users of the Bloomingdale, Slated for Reconstruction This Month (RedEye)
  • Female Motorist Killed in Crash Near 68th and Champlain (Sun-Times)
  • Man Drives Car Into Richton Park Lake, Attacks Rescuer (Tribune)
  • Reactions to Chicago’s “Safe Passages” Plan From Neighbors (DNA)
  • 3 Board Members Who Approved Clifford Deal Were Supposed to Retire 2 Years Ago (Sun-Times)
  • Chicago Announces 50 Upcoming Play Streets Block Parties to Promote Physical Activity (DNA)
  • Gallery: Retirement Party for 2200-Series Features Trian Cars With Vintage Ads (RedEye)
  • Please Don’t Let Your Kids Jump on the Southport People Spot (DNA)
  • McCarron’s Latest Column Showcases the Greatest Hits of True Warrior Tactics (LSD)

Get national headlines at Streetsblog Capitol Hill

  • Anonymous

    Is there a speeding epidemic or a complete lack of enforcement?

    These news articles are unnecessarily alarmist. I’d be interested to first see the results after 6-12 months. I would expect the citations to level out at a much lower level. If that happens I would conclude that it was a lack of enforcement causing drivers to speed. If not, we could conclude that we really do have a speeding epidemic that may require other approaches.

  • Kevin M

    After a decade+ of living in Chicago, it is my opinion that Chicago police very, very rarely enforce traffic laws. I’ve been told this is due to the fact that traffic violation revenue does not go straight back to the police department–as it does in most suburbs (which usually find regular, thorough enforcement of traffic laws).

  • Karen Kaz

    I find it hard to frame the situation as if drivers have no control over their own gas pedal.

    I learned to drive in suburban Houston, and I’m not gonna claim Texas drivers are much better than Chicago drivers. But one thing they were all,to a person, good about was not speeding in school zones. It was kind of an amazing cultural phenomenon: all these folks in huge SUVs and pickups happily flying along wide suburban roads at 45 mph will absolutely slow to a 15-20mph crawl for the entirety of a school zone and then speed back up. Maybe it was enforcement that initially caused this behavior, but over time I think it just becomes expected, and people don’t have a rage stroke over having to drive slowly for a mile or so.

  • Anonymous

    That brings a good question. What should we do with the fine revenue? Move it into general funds? Pay the CPD with it? Help pay for better driver education? Pay for better road design? Lots of options. Not sure what the best option would be.

  • Anne A

    Lack of enforcement is a HUGE factor in the problem. It’s gotten much worse in recent years as the police dept. has shrunk by attrition due to retirements combined with lack of hiring. That trend went on for several years, and management prioritized the increasingly shrinking force to focus on violent crimes, leaving little manpower for enforcement.

    Now that a few new classes have gone through the academy and are now out on the streets, I hope that some of that new manpower will go to enforcement and help rein in the ridiculous amount of speeding and reckless driving.

  • CL

    Oh god, it’s starting. Thanks for the speed camera map — I hope that eventually someone makes a map that also lists the speed limits at each location. I don’t drive 36, but I’m going to be worried about those 31-in-a-25 tickets in areas I’m not familiar with, so I’m going to want to memorize the locations of cameras where the limit is 25. Maybe as I drive around the city, I’ll make a little map for my car.

    It’s interesting that most of the early cameras are on the south and west sides (although soon they’ll be everywhere).

  • jared.kachelmeyer

    I’m going to guess the answer will be none of the above.

  • Anonymous

    There are GPS systems and/or smart phone apps on the market that will alert you to speed traps, and red light cameras. I understand that they get updated frequently. It may be worth looking into them

  • Joseph Musco

    The law authorizing the speed cameras has specific language on what the revenue can be used for. If I recall it is full of legal loopholes you can drive a speeding truck through but here’s Rahm Emanuel on the deal.

    “Any revenue goes back to school programs. It doesn’t go to fund the deficit, if we ever get anything,” Emanuel said, according to Fox Chicago. “After school programs, speed bumps, there’s a host of things you can do to protect children. So the revenue is dedicated to our children’s safety in and around schools.”

  • Anonymous

    You could just obey the posted speed limits….

  • Fred

    Except that whole concept is bullshit to begin with. If speed camera revenue starts paying for these school programs, it means they no longer have to be paid for from the general fund. The notion that new revenue increases funding instead of replacing funding is crap.

  • CL

    Until they put a sign at every single intersection, there will always be times drivers don’t know the exact speed limit. I have them all memorized in Rogers Park, where I live, but it’s a big city.

  • CL

    An app for the Chicago speed cameras would be awesome. I hope someone makes this or adds it to the current apps.

  • Joseph Musco

    Yeah, all money is fungible. Except TIF funds, those are apparently sacrosanct.

  • Anonymous

    Here is one example of an app that might do that
    (note: I don’t have a need for one, so I have not installed it)

  • CL

    Sweet, thanks!

  • Anonymous

    Yup. There’s a reason some cities have uniform speed limits.

  • If you don’t exceed 30mph on regular city streets, you’re always fine except when in a posted school zone.

    What’s so hard about that?

  • It could also be due to the fact that the force is a fraction the size it was in, say, 1990, when people would actually regularly get ticketed for driving around with one headlight blown — often enough to encourage people not to do it, anyhow. I see so many cars driving around with visibly unsafe physical conditions and it’s because there simply isn’t enough manpower to do traffic enforcement AND all the other things police have to do towards public safety.

    I don’t blame the police for prioritizing crime over traffic safety; I blame the city for forcing them to choose.

    In addition to the financial incentive, most suburbs have a far greater ratio of police to citizens than Chicago does, and miniscule fractions of the area to cover. It’s like when my dad gloats about how Skokie’s streets are always pristinely plowed the instant any white flakes touch down and how this shows that Chicago is ‘incompetent’. No, Dad, it shows that Skokie has enough plows and little enough street area to plow EVERY INCH THEY OWN in less than four hours! And then do it again if necessary. Which, yeah, not so much in Chicago.

  • CL

    I aim to drive roughly 30 when the speed limit is 30, and in reality that means like a 27-33 range, reacting to various situations that might cause me to slow down (congestion, pedestrians) or to speed up (passing, especially). I have a feel for how fast 30 is, and I can maintain roughly that speed while keeping my eyes on the road. Watching the speedometer to keep it at 29, all the time, would be very distracting. I’d probably have to aim for 25 to make sure I never exceeded 30 — and I know you all think that would be great, but it probably wouldn’t be long before someone behind me tried to run me off the road in frustration…(people get mad enough when I drive 30, which is abnormally slow in Chicago)

  • If enough people stuck to a strict 30, the *(&^%%&^s who think everyone should be going 40 and then screeching to a halt at red lights or speedbumps, would get over themselves and realize this is a hostile environment for their kind of driving …

  • CL

    Speed camera tickets for 40+ would be fine with me. Those people are jerks. I just think the margin for error is too small, especially considering that some roads are 30 and others are 25.

  • In Illinois the speed limit is 35 unless marked otherwise, and there’s a 5 mph grace before you are ticketed by a cop or a camera. Since 25 is generally the lowest speed limit in Chicago, yes, you won’t be at risk for getting a ticket if you stay below 30, and it will also dramatically decrease the risk that you will kill someone if you strike them with your car. People struck at 40 mph almost always dies, 30 mph = a 50/50 chance, people struck at 20 mph almost always survive.