March 18, 2024

Data: Chicago Has Unequal Distribution of Speed Cameras

By Emily Trzmielewski
@redlineproject

Chicago commuters know the importance of defensive driving, and when to be on the lookout for speed cameras catching them zipping through a school zone or intersection too fast.

. In an attempt to keep children, pedestrians, and other roadway users safe, the city of Chicago started installing and using automated speed cameras in 2013. The cameras are used in Child Safety Zones, which include schools and parks. According to the City of Chicago website, speed camera placement cannot exceed more than 20% of these eligible zones and will be divided equitably throughout the city. This is done by dividing the city into six geographic zones and placing at least 10% of the cameras in each region. Additionally, speed camera locations are based on available crash, speeding, and traffic data.

Although a study conducted at the University of Illinois Chicago indicated that automated speeding cameras improved road safety at 70% of examined sites, there are several concerns and problems Chicago residents and politicians should examine. This includes the unequal distribution of cameras between neighborhoods and streets, especially if these cameras are at locations where road safety is not improving. Additionally, there has been found to be a disproportionate impact of speeding tickets on low-socioeconomic, Black and Latino households.

According to an analysis of data from the City of Chicago Data Portal, there are currently 162 active automated speed cameras located throughout the city. Despite the intention to equitably distribute their placement, speed cameras seem to be unequally distributed when comparing Chicago community areas (neighborhoods).

Based on the data and interactive map, there are several communities with high concentrations of speed cameras and others that have none. For example, Gage Park, West Town, and Belmont Cragin each have nine speed cameras installed within the boundaries of their community areas. Comparatively, Rogers Park, Near South Side, South Lawndale, Kenwood, South Deering, and several other communities have no speed cameras.

Additionally, there are several specific streets that are equipped with an unequally high proportion of automated speeding cameras. For example, Western Avenue has 13 automated speeding cameras, and Pulaski Road is equipped with 11.

Considering all of this, it is important people are cautious and drive safely, especially on streets and in neighborhoods with higher concentrations of speed cameras. Not only is safe driving essential to avoid crashes, but it also allows drivers to avoid fines. Since 2021, anyone driving 6 to 10 mph over the speed limit in Chicago will be ticketed $35, and anyone speeding above 10 mph is subject to a $100 fine.

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