A new study finds they did little to prevent crashes, but that doesn’t mean the overall system is bad
At least 12 of the city’s red light cameras have been deactivated due to their ineffectiveness, according to DNAInfo.
Per the paper, the city explained in a news release that the cameras were no longer preventing crashes. The decision was based on a study conducted by the Northwestern University Transportation Center, which compared crash data from 85 intersections with red light cameras to 103 intersections without; the study concluded that certain cameras largely did nothing to stop motorists from blowing through red lights and causing accidents.
The cameras in question were located at the following intersections:
- Irving Park Road and Kedzie Avenue
- Peterson Avenue and Pulaski Road
- Grand Avenue and Oak Park Avenue
- 95th Street and Stony Island Avenue
- Western Avenue and 71st Street
- Western Avenue and Pershing Road
The study from Northwestern also noted that Chicago has one of the longest-running and largest red light camera enforcement systems in the country. Numerous reports have shown that red light cameras have been effective in preventing reckless driving, though they continue to generate controversy for their perceived opportunism and trigger-happy tendencies.
But despite problems, the authors concluded that the red-light camera system works in principle. Among the benefits: Intersections monitored by red light cameras have experienced an improvement in safety, notably those involving “severe angle and turn crashes.” The cameras have also been known to generate a “spillover effect,” meaning their very existence deters drivers from making poor decisions.
That’s not to say there isn’t room for tweaks. Among the study’s suggestions: “extending the enforcement threshold (time-into-red that triggers a ticket) from the current 0.1 second to 0.3 or 0.4 seconds.”
In citing these numbers, Northwestern notes that it’s important to remember there are multiple variables involved, including the nature of reported crashes and the complexities of each case. As a result, “continuous monitoring, evaluation, adaptation, and reporting to the community are recommended.”