Chicago Red Light Cameras Making Streets Safer, Study Finds

A Northwestern University study found that Chicagoans ran fewer red lights after cameras were installed, even at intersections that don't have cameras.
March 23, 2017, 12pm PDT | Casey Brazeal | @northandclark
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Nicholas Eckhart

Because of its troubled start, the red light cameras program in Chicago has been the subject of a study from Northwestern University. The study found that cameras do improve safety at intersections with cameras. "In addition to the overall finding that injury crashes dropped by 10 percent thanks to the cams, the study found that while rear-end crashes increased by 14 percent at intersections where cameras were installed, consistent with other cities, the more dangerous T-bone and/or turning crashes decreased by 19 percent," John Greenfield reports for Streets Blog Chicago. The study also found an additional benefit, "a never-before-documented 'spillover effect' that is also resulting in less red light running at intersections that don’t have the cams," Greenfield writes. The authors of the study found that fear of cameras works as a deterrent for drivers who may not know which intersections have cameras.

Shortly after Rahm Emanuel's government installed red light cameras, a massive bribery scheme was uncovered that sent one city official to jail on a ten-year sentence. The program was a big issue in the mayoral campaign for Emanuel’s reelection, with challenger Chuy Garcia vowing to remove the cameras. This study was undertaken, in part, to get an independent perspective on the cameras and gauge their impact on the city.  

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Published on Monday, March 20, 2017 in Chi.Streetsblog
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