Chicago could rake in “at least $200 million” a year — and wipe out the entire projected deficit for 2009 — by using its vast network of redlight and surveillance cameras to hunt down uninsured motorists, aldermen were told today.
The system pitched to the City Council’s Transportation Committee by Michigan-based InsureNet would work only if insurance companies were somehow compelled to report the names and license plates of insured motorists. That’s already happening daily in 13 states, but not here.
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Using the city's red light cameras to track uninsured motorists could wipe out the 2009 projected budget deficit, aldermen were told today.
(Keith Hale/Sun-Times file)
The data would be entered into the National Law Enforcement Telecommunications System (NLETS), the information-sharing network that links federal, state and local law enforcement agencies.
When a camera spots an uninsured vehicle driving on Chicago streets, a citation would automatically be generated and sent to the registered owner.
Illinois’ mandatory insurance law carries a $500 fine. If Chicago levied a $300 fine and used its home-rule power to keep the money, the annual take would top $100 million. A $500 city fine would generate $357 million.
“Certainly, it will be well in excess of $100 million. We think at least $200 million. And the upward projections are far higher,” said InsureNet president Dr. Jonathan Miller, whose company would charge the city a 30 percent collection fee.
An estimated 24 percent of all vehicles on the nation’s roadways are not insured, adding $100a year to the annual insurance rate paid by responsible motorists.
The Transportation Committee took no action on a proposal by Ald. Edward M. Burke (14th) to use red-light cameras at 132 Chicago intersections to track down uninsured motorists.
But, aldermen clearly had dollar signs in their eyes after hearing InsureNet’s pitch to enlist the city’s entire network of surveillance cameras — and install new ones at high-traffic locations — in the hunt for the uninsured.
“You could put these cameras on the Dan Ryan. … You could have the same camera at the entrance to O’Hare Field’s parking lot where you have 10,000 cars parked. In theory, 20-some percent of those wouldn’t be insured and they’d all be in violation of a city ordinance,” Burke said.
“Maybe that’s why the staggering amount of revenue you’ve suggested could be potentially achieved.”
Transportation Committee Chairman Tom Allen (38th) agreed that InsureNet’s numbers were “eye-opening.” But, they’re based on a $500 fine and, “That’s a pretty big hit for people to pay,” Allen said.
He added, “I like the idea. We’d all like people to have insurance. But, there is a certain group that, outside of putting people in prison, may never get insurance. It’s purely money.”
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