8/8/2008Illinois Plans $50 Million in Statewide Speed Camera Profit
Illinois governor unveils proposal to line every freeway in the state with speed cameras, generating $50 million in annual revenue.
Illinois Governor Rod R. Blagojevich (D) held a news conference yesterday announcing his plan to expand dramatically the state's existing freeway speed camera program. Since May 2006, photo ticketing vans operated by Affiliated Computer Services (ACS) have mailed photo tickets from highway construction zones. These tickets carry points, automatic license suspensions and fines of $375 and $1000 for the first and second offense, respectively. Blagojevich wants to start with at least one hundred new cameras spread out on every interstate highway outside the work zones so that the system can raise $50 million in annual profit.
"This initiative to have speed enforcement cameras is predicated on a two-prong reality," Blagojevich explained. "We want to make our highways safer and then from the revenue we generate from this to hire more police officers, more state troopers."
The state legislature would have to approve Blagojevich's proposal for $100 freeway photo ticket that do not carry points or require photographs of the driver. These changes would boost both the volume of citations issued and the net revenue, allowing the state to hire 500 new Illinois State Police troopers who, in turn, would issue even more speeding tickets. Ten new state police "elite tactical teams" would focus, among other things, on "traffic activity."
In the past few years, Illinois has steadily increased its dependence on photo enforcement revenue. Chicago, for example, has generated $72 million in revenue since 2003 from 69 red light cameras. The city recently announced a plan to boost the number to 290. Likewise, at least 83 local communities rushed to install or land a contract to install automated ticketing machines after the legislature granted permission to certain regions of the state.