Hurray for Chicago's speed cameras

speed camera

Haven't we had enough whining from motorists who think they should be able to tear through city streets without getting nailed by speed cameras?

The bellyaching has started again with the news that the cameras would have generated more — possibly much more — revenue than had been projected by Mayor Rahm Emanuel when he launched this campaign.

In just 45 days, the first 13 cameras installed near seven city parks clocked more than 233,000 speeders, who received warning violations. If they had been fined, the cameras would have generated $13.3 million in fines. Projected over an entire year, that's more than $106 million.

Predictably, the told-ya-so's are raining down, claiming this proves the cameras are designed solely to pick motorists' pockets and not for safety reasons.

Fine by me. If speeders help offset taxes for homeowners and renters, businesses, tourists (e.g. those gawd-awful high hotel taxes) and consumers, then why not?

Read more in the Chicago Tribune.


Here's someone checking out his Passport iQ radar detector against a Chicago speed camera near Gomper's Park. Turns out that the radar detector is not of much use for the law-breaking motorist because it does not give all that much advanced warning. Good. (Is this guy--JohnVKaravitis--actually recording this video and providing commentary while he's driving? If he is that careless of a driver, I guess I'm not surprised that he has a radar detector.)


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    Did I miss the part about how there was going to be a dollar for dollar reduction in property taxes with each dollar in red light camera revenue?

  • Obviously it won't happen. More likely, the money will go to pay for public employee pension benefits.

  • It appears the cameras are set up in a way that could be considered a speed trap. In many places, traffic engineers must conduct surveys of actual speeds on a stretch of road and set the speed limit no lower than the speed that 85% of traffic goes. This functionally assumes that at least 85% of the drivers are driving at a speed that is safe, so that enforcement can be focused on the remaining 15%. 233,000 violations in 45 days from 13 cameras works out to about 400 violations per camera per day. That's a bunch. If safety (defined here solely by vehicular speed) is the goal, visible traffic officers are more effective than a camera. Cameras do not give drivers the immediate incentive to check their speed the way a visible motorcycle officer does. Cameras generate revenue under a gossamer veil of safety. They are designed as a money-extracting "gotcha". A government-run "gotcha" scheme is a creation of a government that believes its citizens are beneath contempt. This is government of the government, by the government and for the government.

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    Speed scameras will never be used long term to improve safety.

    Their purpose is churn cash on underset speed limits.

    Do you want to know how many people are really injured exceeding the speed limit as the CAUSE (not logged in as there, but not a cause)???

    "Out of 2.7 million traffic accidents recorded in twenty-five states over the course of a year, only 1.6 percent were caused by drivers who exceeded the posted speed limit. The figures come from an analysis by TheNewspaper of annual reports typically compiled by each state for use in applying for grant money from the National Highway Transportation Agency (NHTSA)."

    What you over the long haul with speed scameras is them becoming ever more petty to raise cash.

    Heck in parts of Europe they will cite for even 1 km/h above the speed limit.
    "Vehicle owners have begun to protest after receiving 45 euro (US $58) tickets for driving as little as 61 km/h (38 MPH) in a 60 zone -- just 1 km/h or sixth-tenths of a mile-per-hour over the limit. The camera in question is positioned just a few yards away from a sign that lowers the limit on the road from 90 km/h (56 MPH) to 60, Varese Notizie reported."

    Spain has taken this one better, citing on driving to SLOW past a speed scamera.
    camerafraud on Facebook

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    The 85th percentile methodology is one of the most often re-proven traffic safety engineering principles to set speed limits - IF SAFETY IS THE GOAL. But safety is NOT the true goal for posted speed limits in Chicago or in most of Illinois. Speed trap $$$$$$ are the real goal in most areas.

    The 1941 National Safety Council Report on Speed says to post limits between the 80th and 90th percentile speeds for the best results. This method almost always produces the smoothest and safest traffic flow with the fewest crashes. It reduces speed variance, conflicts between vehicles, tailgating, passing, lane shifting, aggressive driving and road rage. BUT, it kills the speed trap revenue.

    Speed cameras produce profits ONLY when placed in areas where the posted limit is set far below the current, actual, safe traffic flow speeds. If speed cameras targeted only dangerous drivers, they would issue far too few tickets to even pay their own costs -- let alone the multi-million dollar profits demanded by the Mayor and Council.

    Mr. Bryne is just promoting the myths from the "safety lobby" that makes money out of improperly low posted limits - at the expense of lower safety.

    James C. Walker, Life Member-National Motorists Association (frequent Chicagoland visitor)

  • In reply to jcwconsult:

    I have no problem applying the 85 percentile principle to open roads, interstates and so forth, where there can be large differences in speeds that vehicles are traveling. The 55 mph speed limit on Chicago-area expressways is stupid, dangerous and encourages disrespect for the law. I also accept the fact that politics often is involved in setting speed limits.

    But school zones are something entirely different. Speed differential there is not that big of a factor in potential pedestrian (i.e. child)/vehicle accidents. Stopping distance, however, is. If you let 85 percent of the vehicles traveling through a school zone be the standard, I would assume that the speed limit would be set at 30 mph. What the hell is the matter with you people? Or maybe even higher.

    Stopping distance for 30 mph is 43 feet. For 25 mph, it's almost 30 feet. For 20 mph its about 19 feet. (check it out for yourself at

    That's on dry asphalt. On wet alphabet it's almost 55 feet for a vehicle traveling 30 mph. I'm sure that with your superior reflexes that you could stop in that distant if a child bolted out in front of your car. But how about those other drivers?

    I have readily accepted that the financially strapped city of Chicago is in line to make big bucks with this. What I can't accept is the compulsive, near- phobic and paranoid resistance to going 5 mph slower in a school speed zone.

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    I'll be taking my business to the suburbs where I can park, get decent service and not be subject to Rahm Emanuel in any way shape or form. He is killing the City and I will absolutely never open a business there with these parking restrictions and speed traps.

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