Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Chicago's Speed Cameras Issued Millions Of Dollars In Bogus Fines

A Chicago Tribune investigation has found that Mayor Rahm Emanuel's speed camera program issued more than $2.4 million in fines to Chicago drivers, issuing them tickets when the cameras were supposed to be off and when the required warning signs were "confused, obscured or missing." The investigation also found the speed cameras were systematically issuing tickets to drivers near schools without the legally required evidence of a child in sight. The Tribune estimated at least 110,000 tickets were improperly issued on that basis.

The Tribune found the program, which was pitched as helping protect children near parks and schools, the most prolific ticketing occurred along major thoroughfares where pedestrians are least likely to be struck by motorists. City officials refused to discuss the problems with Tribune reporters, even as they quietly worked to confront the problem after Tribune reporters began requesting public records from the City. Here were some of The Tribune's findings:
  • 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.
Informed of The Tribune's findings, the Emanuel administration is moving to issue refunds for at least 23,000 fines issued to speeders. Nonetheless, the City's transportation commissioner defended the program. "Speeding is a serious problem in this city," Rebekah Scheinfeld said. "It's responsible for about a quarter of crashes resulting in injury or fatality every year. So we take that very seriously. "We believe the system is working," Scheinfeld added. "The system is only 2 years old, barely, and we already see positive results in changing driver behavior." Crash data analyzed by The Tribune found that most pedestrian-involved accidents occurred on side streets. ACS/Xerox, the same company that has a 50-year lease of Indianapolis' parking meter assets, administers Chicago's red light cameras and speed cameras. Chicago's original contractor, Redflex, was booted following a federal investigation that uncovered bribes paid to a key city official in connection with the awarding of the contract. 


Anonymous said...

Another contract successfully fulfilled to ACS/XEROX's high standards.

Flogger said...

Ohh wow the magic of the Market, that is the Privatized Crony-Capitalist Market. This Market seeks by what ever means to maximize their profits and they have Elected and Non-Elected Officials more than happy to give them that blank check. What a deal combine the coercive power of the state and corporate profit. What could go wrong??? (satire)

leon dixon said...

"... found no children were present in the photographic evidence for nearly a third of the cases, even though a child's presence was required..." this would be a useful addition to Indiana law in my view. It might hurt the Indianapolis budget but as things are the police are predatory for no good reason and it is a waste of gasoline.