Abels & Annes

Local police chiefs endorse red-light cameras in effort to reduce Chicago car accidents

More than a dozen local police chiefs signed an endorsement of red light cameras, which was published over the weekend in the Chicago Tribune.

Supporters of the cameras, which photograph red-light violations and mail tickets to the vehicle’s owner, contend they are a valuable tool in reducing Chicago car accidents. As the Chicago injury lawyers at Abels & Annes reported last month, 1 in every 7 fatal car accidents occurs at an intersection, accounting for 7,772 of the 37,261 nationwide traffic fatalities in 2008.

But, as reported reported last month on our Chicago Car Accident Lawyers blog, a vocal minority has become active in protesting the cameras as nothing more than a cash cow for local governments. Detractors also contend the cameras can lead to rear-end collisions and other accidents as motorists slam on their brakes to avoid getting a ticket in the mail.

During the first 8 months of 2009, the City of Chicago collected almost $38 million from nearly 200 red-light cameras operating within the city.

In endorsing the cameras, the chiefs cited several factors they contend are central to the debate:

-The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety estimates that almost 900 people were killed and an 153,000 were injured in crashes involving red light running in 2007.

-About half of those killed in accidents caused by red-light running are pedestrians or occupants of other vehicles.

-The U.S. Federal Highway Administration reports that broadside collisions have decreased by almost 25 percent at intersections monitored by red-light cameras.

The chiefs used as an example a Roselle, IL intersection, where red-light violations went from 115 a day before cameras were installed to 10 a day after the cameras began operation.

Additionally, the chief law enforcement officers that signed the endorsement contend the cameras have reduced violations at all intersections, not just intersections where the cameras are installed.

“Cameras make drivers think twice before engaging in dangerous behavior,” the chiefs state. “In fact, over 95 percent of drivers who receive a red-light camera ticket will not become repeat offenders.”

The chiefs also content that the cameras allow law enforcement to be deployed more efficiently, allowing more manpower to combat crime and recently helped apprehend a suspect in a hit-and-run Chicago pedestrian accident.