Edgeville Buzz

Your Ridge Ave. Speed Camera Ticket May Be Improperly Issued

speed camera 1Mayor Emmanuel’s plan was to protect Chicago kids walking near schools and parks from lead-footed drivers with the help of speed cameras. Now a report has surfaced that as much as $2.4  million in camera tickets were improperly issued by the City.

A Tribune report that came out today accuses the City of issuing these fines when the cameras were supposed to be turned off or when signage was ‘confusing, obscured or missing.’ It also reported that about 110,00 tickets were issued improperly because they lacked needed evidence of  schoolchild in sight.

The report adds further skepticism to the 2-year-old  “Children’s Safety Zone” program. The Tribune also accused the Mayor of dodging questions they had regarding the speed cameras while at the same time adopting a ‘complicated set of rules’ governing how the tickets are issued. Since the newspaper’s inquiries, the City has vacated about $1 million in fines.

Chicago has 63 speed cameras near schools and parks across the city including the one at 5887 N. Ridge Ave. in Edgewater. Administration officials state that these cameras are placed in areas where crash statistics run high. In order to defend the speed camera program, the City’s website reported Chicago crash statistics from 2004-2014 where speed was a factor. But those 47,700 crashes reported involved all types of crashes and people of all ages.

In fact, of these 47,700 accidents, a majority of the 108 incidents effecting children on foot or bicycle where speed was cited by police, actually occurred on side streets. Most speed cameras are instead placed on busy motorways where a child is less likely to be hit.

The six-month long Tribune investigation found the following:

•More than 22,000 tickets were sent to owners of cars tagged by cameras near parks that were closed for construction for months, in apparent violation of the speed camera ordinance.

•More than 11,000 tickets were issued at hours after parks were closed for the night, according to the posted times on Chicago Park District signs or its website.

•More than 28,000 tickets were issued at cameras plagued by problems with warning signs that did not meet the minimum legal requirements. The required signs were either missing entirely, obscured by trees and construction, or so confusing that drivers could not figure out which speed limit was being enforced.

•A ticket-by-ticket review of 1,500 randomly chosen citations from school zones found no children were present in the photographic evidence for nearly a third of the cases, even though a child’s presence was required. That review suggests that about 110,000 tickets may have been issued without legal justification.

•More than 62,000 school zone tickets were issued over the summer months when school activity is often so limited that drivers are left to guess whether school is in session or not. The law says tickets can be issued only “on school days,” typically defined as during the regular school year. A class-action lawsuit challenging the practice was dismissed by a Cook County judge but is on appeal.

Though mostly warnings, the speed camera program has issued 2.1 million tickets totaling $81 million in revenue. Since the Tribune’s ongoing investigation, the Emanuel administration is moving forward to refund 23,000 tickets they admit should have never been issued.


Source: Chicago Tribune

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