Chicago Speed Cameras Working Better Than Expected, Issue 97,000 ‘Test’ Citations During Trial Run

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has revealed that his city’s new speed cameras are working better than anyone had anticipated.

According to Emanuel, the test run for the new traffic system was meant to prove that the traffic cameras could generate $30 million in annual revenue. Instead, the beta testing has proven that Chicago could earn hundreds of millions of dollars in the programs first year of operation.

Officials in the city are now preparing to install the programs first permanent cameras at four neighborhood parks. Those cameras will be followed by eight additional locations, including three near schools over the next month.

The December trial, which included two companies vying for the city contract, caught 93,000 speeders at four locations. Based on those numbers and a five-year contract with Chicago, that could mean upwards of one million tickets per year or gove million over the five-year contract.

Even the city’s traffic camera operators have been surprised by the program’s efficacy. Charles Territo, a spokesman for American Traffic Solutions, says of current numbers:

“I think everyone was shocked at the numbers. It became very obvious there is a speeding problem in school and park zones in the city of Chicago.”

If tickets had been issued during the traffic period, it would have meant $4.7 million in added revenue for the city in a single month.

Chicago officials hope to have 50 speed cameras setup by the end of 2013. Officials now believe the new speed cameras could lead to hundreds of millions of dollars in speeding ticket revenue.

Under Illinois State law, Rahm Emanuel can commission up to 300 locations for speed camera installation. Areas where the cameras can be installed include school and park zones.

City transportation experts estimate that the program will earn between $40 million to $60 million during its first year.

Officials warn that the program will likely never reach into the hundreds of millions of estimated dollars because of first year testing issues. Chicago drivers are also likely to memorize speed camera areas over time and adjust their driving habits accordingly. In fact, the city of Chicago is placing warning signs around the speed cameras in an attempt to educate Chicago drivers about the new system.

If nothing else, the program may fail to earn hundreds of millions in revenue but succeed in educating drivers about safe driving in areas where children and families are present.

The system comes with a warning for a drivers first violation followed by a ticket of $100 if they travel 11MPH or more over the posted speed limit. A $35 ticket will be issued for second time offenders who travel 6 to 10MPH over the speed limit.

Twenty-three percent of potential violations during the test run were 10MPH or more over the speed limit.

Chicago officials expect to collect upwards of 70 percent of all violations issues. Typically, about 30 percent of drivers simply refuse to pay for their violations which are sent out in the mail.

Do you think Chicago speed cameras will raise a ton of money or just create slower drivers?