The purported public safety justification for the installation of red light cameras throughout the State of Illinois since 2006 has been put into question as a recent Chicago Tribune article reports that nearly half of the 14 suburban intersections which carry the devices have seen an increase in vehicle accidents. According to the newspaper, car accidents rose at 7 of the 14 equipped suburban Chicago intersections since 2007 while they fell at only 5. The other two intersections showed no significant change. The Mannheim and St. Charles road intersection in Bellwood, IL, provides an example of this trend. Collisions at this intersection rose from 17 the year before the cameras were installed to 24 the year after. Oak Lawn, IL, cameras provide an even more striking example of the development as the intersection at Cicero Ave. and 95th St. has seen an increase in car accidents from 34 in 2006 to 44 in 2008. Additionally, broadside accidents, which can often result in serious personal injury or death, rose from 1 to 5 per year at that location.
A similar trend has been noticed at city of Chicago intersections equipped with the red light camera devices. Numbers compiled by the Illinois Department of Transportation show that collisions have either increased or held steady at nearly 60 percent of the 47 city intersections equipped with red light camera traffic control devices.
While lawmakers and municipal officials continue to justify the use of the cameras on public safety grounds, statistics coming from the equipped intersections are telling a different story. Critics of the cameras point to the fact that the devices are heavy revenue generators. Red light camera violations cost Chicago drivers $100 per offense. Opponents of the cameras can now point to increased Chicago car accidents as a justification for curtailing red light camera use.
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