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Chicago speed camera vote expected Wednesday, July 20, mayor won’t ‘stand idly by’

The Chicago City Council could vote to raise the speed threshold on the city’s 160 traffic cameras Wednesday, Juily 20. Mayor Lori Lightfoot has signaled a possible veto.

Last year, Lightfoot lowered the threshold on when motorists would be assessed fines from automatic speed cameras to just 6 mph above the speed limit.

After being approved by a city council committee late last month, the threshold could go back to 10 mph, up from 6 mph, but the change still requires a final vote.

At an unrelated news conference on Monday, Lightfoot vowed to fight raising the speed threshold and signaled a possible veto if the measure is approved.

“One way or the other, I am not going to stand idly by and let the city council do something that I know will be detrimental to the health and well-being of the city,” Lightfoot said.

Adam Schuster of the Illinois Policy Institute has disputed the mayor’s reasoning, claiming the cameras have done nothing for safety.

“Drivers learn where the cameras are and speed down by ten miles per hour,” Schuster said. “They then ramp back up to 15 miles per hour to compensate for lost time. That is what these speed cameras do. They do not make anyone safer.”

An Illinois Policy Institute investigation found that Chicago reported more fatal traffic crashes in the first six months of 2022 than in any six months since 2017.

According to Lightfoot, safety is the priority. She said several of the city’s 160 speed cameras are placed in heavily populated civilian areas to keep people safe.

“It makes no sense for us to be increasing speeds around parks and schools,” Lightfoot said. “We know what the horrific consequences can be.”

In 2021, after Lightfoot lowered the threshold, the city made $85 million off of the tickets. Late penalties drive up the cost of tickets, turning a $35 citation into an $85 fine.

Lightfoot was asked if the cameras were a money grab.

“Yes, of course, there are resources that come with these cameras, but those revenues by state law are specifically defined in the way that we can use them,” Lightfoot said. “We can use it for things like keeping our parks safer and setting up safe passage.”

Schuster called the cameras another way to tax the residents of Chicago.

“Both speed and red light cameras are mostly a scam by politicians intended to make more money from Illinois residents, without having to vote to raise taxes,” Schuster said.

If approved by city council, the threshold would return to 10 mph, up from 6 mph.


This article originally appeared on The Center Square.

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