Chicago Issued Thousands Of 'Questionable' Speed Camera Tickets, Investigation Shows
By Kate Shepherd in News on Nov 18, 2015 10:20PM
Mayor Rahm Emanuel's controversial speed camera program improperly issued more than $2.4 million in fines to Chicago drivers, according to an investigation by the Tribune.
About 110,000 questionable tickets have been issued, according to the Tribune's random-sample analysis.
The cameras were ticketing drivers when they were supposed to be off and when the required warning signs were confusing, obscured or missing. Drivers have also been ticketed ticketed near schools without "legally required evidence of a schoolchild in sight."
Many aspects of the program don't make sense. Many cameras in the "Children's Safety Zone" initiative are placed along major roadways where child pedestrians are least likely to be struck by speeding drivers.
The Tribune has been asking city officials about the problems for months and they have refused to answer to any questions while trying to get out in front of the issue at the same time. They've changed ticketing guidelines and started to vacate nearly $1 million in tickets.
City Hall claims it's planning to issue refunds for nearly 23,000 wrongful tickets but drivers still have questions.
Driver Tim Moyer unsuccessfully appealed five speeding tickets issued near one small neighborhood playground on the Northwest Side because the park was closed. After the Tribune inquiries, he finally received an error notice from the city.
"That's great, but why did it take the Chicago Tribune to figure this out?" he said to the Tribune.
More than 22,000 tickets have been issued to owners of cars tagged by cameras near parks that were closed for construction for months.
Emanuel's top transportation officials met with Tribune reporters shortly before the article was published. They've acknowledged their mistakes but still want to combat speeding. Despite the issues, they say the program is working.
"Speeding is a serious problem in this city," Transportation Commissioner Rebekah Scheinfeld told the Tribune. "It's responsible for about a quarter of crashes resulting in injury or fatality every year. So we take that very seriously."