Study: Red light cameras make Chicago streets safer; some may be relocated

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Tuesday, March 21, 2017

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Chicago's red light cameras help make driving safer in Chicago, according to a study released Monday by the Northwestern University Transportation Center.

The report was authorized by the Chicago City Council and paid for by the Chicago Department of Transportation. It found "significant safety benefits" and recommended the continuation of the program.

Among the report findings were that injury-producing crashes decreased by about 10 percent because of the cameras; more dangerous angle and/or turn crashes decreased by 19 percent. The study also found less dangerous and less frequent rear-end crashes increased by 14 percent, consistent with experience in other cities.

Researchers used data from before the red-light cameras were installed and compared to data from after the cameras were used.


The study recommended that the city extend the time allowed before issuing a ticket once the light turns red. Right now it stands at 0.1 of a second. Enforcing "violations occurring within fractions of a second after the light turns red might not provide significant safety benefits," the report says.

City officials said Monday that they will immediately extend that to 0.3 of a second.

"We want to emphasize that extending this enforcement threshold is not an invitation to drivers to try to beat the red light," said Chicago Department of Transportation Commissioner Rebekah Scheinfeld. "By accepting the recommendation of the academic team, we are giving the benefit of the doubt to well-intentioned drivers while remaining focused on the most reckless behaviors."

The report suggested relocating some red-light cameras for greater effectiveness. City officials said CDOT will begin scheduling public meetings to discuss all proposed removals and installations of camera enforcement intersections, per city ordinance.

The following are the intersections with cameras that are proposed for removal:

- 95th Street & Stony Island Avenue (2 cameras)

- Western Avenue & 71st Street (2 cameras)

- Western Avenue & Pershing Road (2 cameras)

- Grand Avenue & Oak Park Avenue (2 cameras)

- Irving Park Road & Kedzie Avenue (2 cameras)

- Peterson Avenue & Pulaski Road (2 cameras)

The following are the intersections with proposed cameras for installation:

- Wacker Drive & Lake Street (2 cameras)

- Michigan Avenue and Jackson Boulevard (2 cameras)

- Dearborn Avenue & Grand Avenue (2 cameras)

- Central Avenue, Foster Avenue, Northwest Highway & Milwaukee Avenue (4 cameras)

- Pershing Road and Martin Luther King Drive (2 cameras)

For more about Chicago's red-light camera program, click here.