In October, we reported that the city's network of 330 planned cameras was in jeopardy because of the tough economy and the expense of installing the cameras.
The Tribune found that car accidents increased at half of the 14 suburban Chicago intersections outfitted with traffic cameras by the end of 2007, following the passage of the 2006 law that permitted the cameras to be used as a traffic-enforcement tool.
The number of car accidents fell at five of the intersections and remained largely unchanged at the remaining two intersections outfitted with the cameras.
In Bellwood, at Mannheim and St. Charles roads, collisions rose by almost 50 percent, from 17 the year before cameras appeared to 24 the year after.
In Melrose Park, crashes increased from 56 to 73 at 1st and North avenues, near the now-closed Kiddieland Amusement Park.
And in Oak Lawn, at the busy junction of Cicero and 95th Street, broadside collisions rose from one to five and overall crashes increased from 34 in 2006 to 44 in 2008, according to state data.
The Tribune reported last month that records from the Illinois Department of Transportation showed collisions either increasing or holding steady at nearly 60 percent of the 47 city intersections equipped with red-light cameras in 2006 or 2007.
However, statistics collected by the city typically show a decrease in accidents at camera-monitored intersections. The Tribune reported that city and state officials could not explain the discrepancy in their respective reporting.
The cameras, which generate $100 tickets mailed to red-light violators, have been the focus of growing controversy. Supporters content they are installed with safety in mind. Critics contend they are a cash cow that can lead to more accidents and raise privacy issues.
The paper said suburban statistics are harder to evaluate than statistics for city cameras, which have been in place longer. However, it noted accidents continued to rise at some of those early camera-monitored city intersections.
By the end of 2007, just seven suburbs had cameras: Bellwood, Berwyn, Elmwood Park, Melrose Park and Rosemont in west and northwest Cook County and Oak Lawn and Hometown in the southwest. Dozens of area suburbs have since installed cameras, most either this year or last.
Media reports have questioned the placement of those cameras; many of those earliest suburban intersections were not plagued by many accidents before cameras went in, state records show.
Critics have argued an increase in rear-end collisions at some intersections is the result of drivers suddenly slamming on brakes at camera-monitored intersections to avoid tickets.