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Newly released traffic safety data shows that the number of crashes involving injuries was down significantly in Child Safety Zones that are covered by the City’s Automated Speed Enforcement (ASE) program. The Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) released the data ahead of the annual statewide Thanksgiving Holiday traffic safety campaign.
A preliminary analysis by CDOT of citywide traffic crash data for 2014 compiled by the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) indicates that crashes with injuries are down 4 percent citywide when compared to 2012. However, an analysis of crash data for the 21 Child Safety Zones where an ASE camera was installed in 2013 shows that injury crashes have dropped a dramatic 18 percent. Additionally, while the total number of crashes citywide is up 6 percent, in Child Safety Zones the total number of crashes was down 2 percent. Footage of unsafe, high-speed driving in Chicago that should be avoided can be seen here: http://youtube.com
CDOT is comparing 2012 data with 2014 data because the speed camera program started to deploy cameras at these Child Safety Zone locations in 2013.
“This new data shows that Chicago’s focused effort to reduce speeding on City streets is having an impact,” CDOT Commissioner Rebekah Scheinfeld said. “This is just one year worth of data, but we already see a positive, downward trend in the number of crashes causing injuries in Child Safety Zones.”
The main purpose of the ASE program is to encourage drivers to slow down and comply with the speed limit, in order to keep children and all residents safe. Traffic safety research shows that a pedestrian hit by a vehicle traveling at 20 MPH has a 95 percent chance of survival, while for a person hit by car driving 40 MPH, the chance of survival drops significantly to just 15 percent.
Data shows that in just over two years of operation, ASE cameras are helping to achieve the goal of making Chicago’s communities safer by reducing speeding. ASE program data shows immediate changes in behavior once speed cameras are activated:
The City has installed ASE cameras in 63 Children’s Safety Zones across Chicago in an effort to increase safety and reduce speeding. Children’s Safety Zones are designated within 1/8th of a mile from Chicago parks or schools.
The goal of the program is to encourage voluntary compliance with the law, which is why it includes a no-fine warning system. When a new camera location is turned on, only warnings (with no fine) are issued to those caught speeding during the first month. Even after that period ends, anyone caught speeding who has not previously received an ASE ticket is issued a zero-fine violation, in effect, one more warning. Since the inception of the program, the City has issued two warnings for every violation that carried a fine.
The City’s ASE program is only one part of the toolbox CDOT uses to enhance traffic safety for all Chicagoans. Other efforts include: pedestrian refuge islands in crosswalks; safety zone signage and street stencils; high-visibility crosswalk markings; speed feedback signs; speed humps; traffic signal improvements; curb and ramp improvements; pedestrian countdown timers; leading pedestrian intervals; in-street “Stop for Pedestrians” signs; educational outreach by bike and pedestrian Safety Ambassadors; and targeted enforcement events with Chicago police.