Consistent with the City’s plan to launch Children’s Safety Zones to increase safety, reduce speeding, and fund critical children’s safety programs, the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) today released the first 12 automated speed enforcement camera locations to be located in Children’s Safety Zones, as well as pilot data from preliminary equipment tests conducted earlier this year. Revenue generated by the program will be invested in safety initiatives including afterschool programs, anti-violence and jobs programs; crossing guards and police officers around schools; and infrastructure improvements, such as signs, crosswalk markings and other traffic safety improvements.
“The Children’s Safety Zone Program protects children and other pedestrians by reminding motorists to slow down and obey speed laws – particularly in school and park zones,” said CDOT Commissioner Gabe Klein. “With extensive signage on the street, a robust system to give drivers only warning tickets during the first 30-days systems are operating, in addition to one free warning the first time a motorist is eligible to receive an actual violation, we expect to reduce the amount of speeding substantially, even beyond what other cities that use automated enforcement have experienced.”
Camera locations are chosen based on available data regarding traffic, speeding, and accidents, as well as the geographic requirements of the ordinance. To ensure the program will enhance safety and reduce speeding citywide, and to help ensure geographic balance, six regions have been established wherein no fewer than 10 percent of speed enforcement cameras will be located in each region. The city expects to select 50 locations for camera installation in 2013.
The first 12 locations identified are:
The camera systems will start to be installed next week, and will issue their first warnings to motorists by the end of August. The first camera systems to be installed will be near Garfield Park (at 3790 W. Madison St. and 3694 W. Jackson Blvd.); near Gompers Park (at 4124 W. Foster Ave. and 5119 N. Pulaski Rd.); near Washington Park at 5530 S. Cottage Grove Ave. and 534 E. Morgan Dr.); and near Marquette Park (3450 W. 7st St., 6818 S. Kedzie Ave., and 6909 S. Kedzie Ave.).
Chicago experiences roughly 3,000 crashes annually between motor vehicles and pedestrians, about 800 of which involve children. A pedestrian hit by a car traveling 20 mph – the speed in a school zone – has a 95 percent chance of living. That same person hit by a car traveling more than 40 mph has an 80 percent chance of dying, according to the Federal Highway Administration.
A pilot test of the camera equipment conducted in December and January by American Traffic Solutions (ATS), the City’s chosen ASE camera system operator, showed that of the 546,979 vehicles that passed through two test locations during enforcement hours, 51,701 or nearly 10 percent, were potential speeding violations.
At one test location, Dulles Elementary School at 6300 S. Martin Luther King Blvd., 18 percent of the vehicles passing through during enforcement hours had potential speeding violations. The average speeder was measured at more than 9 mph over the posted school-hours speed limit of 20 mph, with the top speeder clocked at 58 mph with a pedestrian present.
The second ATS test site near Warren Park at 6500 N. Western Ave., ATS measured about 7 percent of all motorists exceeding the posted 30 mph speed limit, by more than 8 mph on average, and clocked a top speed of 60 mph.
A second potential vendor, Xerox, tested equipment at two other sites. Near McKinley Park, at 2223 W. Pershing Rd., Xerox cameras captured an average of 974 speed violations per day at an average of 57 violations per hour, or 8 percent of drivers. At Near North Montessori School, 1446 W. Division St., Xerox measured 9 percent of drivers speeding, an average of 366 violations per day at an average of 30 violations per hour.
The pilot test locations were specifically chosen for their high traffic volumes in order to fully test the system and its capabilities. The pilot data is not typical of traffic volumes in other safety zones, which may be considerably lower.
Klein said new signs and more public awareness of the cameras, in addition to the warnings issued during the first 30-days of a new camera system, as well as warnings for the first time a motorist is eligible to receive an actual violation, the amount of speeding violations is expected to be substantially reduced from the testing phase. Other cities that have used automated speed enforcement have experienced dramatic reductions in the instances of speeding, up to 90 percent.
“These pilot tests confirm that speeding is problem and that it puts children in danger. Speed is also one of the biggest determinants in whether an accident results in a serious injury or fatality, and reducing speeds to the posted limits will reduce injuries and save lives,” said Klein. “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.”
In June, consistent with the Children’s Safety Zone ordinance, CDOT launched a public education campaign, including a section of its website (www.chicagodot.org) that provides information on the program, including the camera test reports and a video that explains how the automated speed enforcement camera system works. Later, the website will include a map of safety zones and cameras and quarterly reports that detail speeding, accident and ticket data.
The Children’s Safety Zones are designated as within 1/8th of a mile from Chicago parks or schools. The speed cameras are only one part of the “toolbox” of pedestrian enhancements and vehicle-speed-reduction measures that the City uses in safety zones.
The City ordinance establishing the Children’s Safety Zone program substantially narrows the hours and locations of enforcement that are allowed under state law, and provides for the following:
Results of Automated Speed Enforcement in other cities:
Montgomery County, MD