Children's Safety Zone Program & Automated Speed Enforcement

NEW: Effective March 1, 2021, City of Chicago began issuing $35 tickets to motorists driving 6-10 MPH over the speed limit in all active Children’s Safety Speed Enforcement Zones. Motorists driving 10+ MPH over the speed limit are subject to a $100 fine.  Motorists should always observe the posted enforcement signage near all automated speed enforcement cameras

Each year, Chicago experiences roughly 3,000 crashes, in which a motor vehicle collides with a pedestrian; 16% of these crashes involve children.

The Children’s Safety Zone Program protects children, pedestrians, and other vulnerable roadway users by reminding motorists to slow down and obey speed limits – especially in areas near schools and parks.  Safety Zones are defined as an area within 1/8th of a mile distance of parks or schools. 

The Program uses enhanced signage, pavement markings, and automated radar-equipped cameras to identify and ticket motorists who are breaking the law by exceeding the posted speed limit.  Tickets are issued to the registered owner of the speeding vehicle.

The automated speed enforcement cameras are only one part of the “toolbox,” which the City uses to enhance safety for our children and all residents traveling within the safety zones.  In addition to enforcement, education and encouragement programs, the City utilizes engineering treatments, including:Pedestrian refuge islands

  • Pedestrian refuge islands
  • Safety zone signage and pavement markings
  • High-visibility crosswalk markings
  • Speed feedback signs
  • Speed humps
  • Traffic signal improvements
  • Curb and ramp improvements
  • Pedestrian countdown timers
  • Lead pedestrian intervals
  • In-street “Stop for Pedestrians” signs

The City ordinance establishing the Children’s Safety Zone program substantially narrows the hours and locations of automated speed enforcement, which is allowed under state law, and provides for the following:

  • Enforcement hours around schools will be limited to 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on school days (Monday through Friday). Some school safety zones enforce different speed limits depending on whether a child is present, as follows:

    • 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.: 20 miles per hour (mph) speed limit when children are present; and the posted speed limit when no children are present, and
    • 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.: The posted speed limit

  • Enforcement hours around parks will be limited to only those hours when each park is open (typically 6 a.m. to 11 p.m., 7 days a week)
  • Warning notices (without fines) will be issued for the first 30 days after each new camera is installed and activated in a new or existing Safety Zone
  • The first time a vehicle is recorded speeding in a Children’s Safety Zone, the registered vehicle owner will receive a warning notice instead of a ticket
  • Fines for violations are: $35 for vehicles traveling 6-10 mph over the posted speed limit, and $100 for vehicles traveling 11 or more mph over the posted speed limit.

Furthermore, the City has capped the number of locations where speed cameras can be installed to 20% of the approximately 1,500 Safety Zone locations allowed under state law.  This limits the number of enforced Safety Zones to approximately 300 Safety Zones.

Camera locations are chosen based on available data and analysis related to traffic, speeding, and crashes.  The City has established six geographical regions wherein no fewer than 10% of all speed enforcement safety zones will be located.  This is to ensure a geographically equitable distribution of the program. The first automated speed enforcement cameras were activated in August 2013.

Revenue from the program will be used for programs that enhance the safety of children, including after-school, anti-violence and youth employment programs; crossing guards and police officers around schools; and infrastructure improvements, such as signage, crosswalk markings, traffic calming, and other traffic safety improvements.

A pedestrian hit by a car traveling 20 mph – the posted speed limit in school zones – has a 95% chance of surviving that crash.  That same person hit by a car traveling at 40 mph has only an 20% chance of surviving.

Speed is among the biggest determinants of whether a crash results in a serious or fatal injury, rather than a minor injury, no injury, or even no crash at all.  Reducing incidents of speeding – keeping vehicles to the posted speed limits, appropriately set for the context – will save lives.  The Children’s Safety Zone Program protects children and other pedestrians by reminding motorists to slow down and obey speed laws – especially in school and park zones.


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