City of Chicago to Start Issuing Warnings to Motorists Driving Six MPH and Above Over the Limit in Automated Speed Enforcement Zones

January 15, 2021

Ticketing of speeders at 6 MPH over the limit to start March 1; New enforcement threshold to be deployed as a deterrent in response to alarming increase in speeding and traffic fatalities

Mike Claffey    312.744.0707 Michael.Claffey@cityofchicago.org

Susan Hofer    312.742-2006 Susan.Hofer@cityofchicago.org

CHICAGO – The City of Chicago announced it will begin issuing warning letters today to inform drivers that starting March 1, it will start ticketing speeders in Automated Speed Enforcement (ASE) Children’s Safety Zones located near schools and parks starting at 6 MPH over the speed limit during hours of enforcement. The new enforcement threshold comes in response to an alarming increase in speeding and motor vehicle fatalities, which increased by more than 75 percent according to preliminary data.

“Automated speed enforcement is a proven deterrent to speeding. Faced with an unacceptable increase in speeding and traffic fatalities, we are taking action to save lives and prevent serious injuries,” Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) Commissioner Gia Biagi said. “The goal is not to issue tickets, but to encourage safer driving behavior and discourage speeding that is correlated with more severe injuries and deaths in traffic crashes.”

Starting today, owners of vehicles that are caught speeding 6 to 10 MPH over the speed limit in a speed enforcement zone during enforcement hours will receive a warning by mail. Starting on March 1, tickets will be issued for vehicles travelling 6 to 10 MPH over the speed limit. If a vehicle owner has never previously received an ASE ticket, they will receive a zero-dollar notice of violation for the first ticket. Depending on the individual situation a vehicle owner can receive a warning notice and a zero-dollar fine for driving between 6 to 10 PH over speed limit. Fines are $35 for vehicles traveling 6-10 MPH over the speed limit and $100 for vehicles travelling at 11 MPH and above over the speed limit.

Under Chicago’s ASE program, launched in 2013 to improve traffic safety around schools and parks, the City has had a policy of only issuing tickets to drivers going 10 or more miles per hour over the posted speed limit.

This policy change comes in response to an alarming increase in vehicle speeds and fatalities that is correlated with fewer cars on the road due to the COVID pandemic. Through the end of 2020, total traffic fatalities are up by 45 percent, with 139 fatalities, 43 more deaths than 2019, according to provisional Chicago Police Department data. Looking just at fatal crashes involving people in motor vehicles, fatalities are up 77 percent, from 52 to 92. These deaths reflect a national trend and have occurred at a time when fewer cars are on the road and City traffic data shows cars are driving 9 percent faster on average.

Automated speed enforcement is one of the tools Chicago relies on in its Vision Zero traffic safety plan along with engineering improvements to create safer roadways and traffic safety education.

Data from Chicago’s speed enforcement program and crash data demonstrates how automated enforcement is an effective tool that encourages drivers to slow down and observe the speed limit: Chicago Automated Speed Enforcement Camera Before and After Safety Impact Analysis

Under Chicago’s ASE program, Children’s Safety Zones may be designated within 1/8th of a mile from Chicago parks or schools.

Of the current 161 ASE zones in the City, many of them have been de-activated due to school and park closures tied to the COVID pandemic. Currently ASE cameras are activated and issuing tickets in 33 park zones and 14 school zones. These numbers are subject to change in the coming days and weeks and will be updated on the City’s ASE web page: Children's Safety Zone Program & Automated Speed Enforcement

The City ordinance establishing the program requires an equitable geographic distribution of speed cameras around Chicago. For the purposes of speed enforcement, CDOT has divided the City into six regions and each region may have no fewer than ten percent of the total number of camera enforced zones.

The ordinance narrows the hours and locations of enforcement that are allowed under state law, and provides for the following:

  • The enforcement hours are limited to 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. in safety zones around schools on school days (Monday through Friday)
  • 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.: 20 mph speed limit when children are present; the posted speed limit when no children are present

AND

  • 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.: the posted speed limit
  • The enforcement hours around parks are limited to only those hours parks are open (typically 6 a.m. to 11 p.m., 7 days a week, however some parks operate with different hours, which are taken into account for purposes of enforcement). 

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