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UIC Study Shows Little Relationship Between Chicago Speed Cameras' Safety Impact And Number Of Tickets Issued

By Dorothy Tucker

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Chicago's speed cameras churned out more than 2.5 million tickets last year, up 273 percent from the year before.

The exact number of tickets issued last year was 2,667,788.

The majority of the tickets were given after the city dropped the speed threshold from 10 mph to just 6 mph last March. Mayor Lori Lightfoot said that move was made because of safety concerns.

But on Tuesday, the city released a study from researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago that found "little relationship between the number of tickets issued and the safety impact of cameras."

CBS 2 Investigator Dorothy Tucker was the first to expose the data used to justify the drop was not what it appeared. Tucker started by asking a question no one had bothered to ask before – how many traffic fatalities actually happened near speed cameras.

We asked the Chicago Department of Transportation for those numbers.

The city had 139 people lost their lives in traffic crashes citywide in 2020 – but it turns out only 11 of those 139 people died in crashes near speed cameras. In 2019, 96 people died in traffic crashes – but only five of those deaths were near speed cameras.

UIC's study found cameras reduced fatal and serious crashes by 15 percent. But the data used to drive this point were from 2015 to 2017.

The study also found the location of cameras and fines disproportionally affect Black and brown communities.

Moving forward, researchers recommend the city:

• Reassess camera locations and eliminate or relocate cameras that aren't effective;

• Justify the cameras' placement with local speed studies;

• Lower fines and fees - a move that is in this year's budget, specifically for those who can't afford to pay the tickets.

Below is a chart showing the areas with the most tickets.


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