Will Red Light Cameras Affect The Chicago Mayoral Race?

The primary for Chicago’s mayoral race takes place tomorrow. There are a myriad of the usual issues that the candidates have debated such as the closing of schools and crime rates on the south side. Once issue that keeps popping up are red light cameras.

An article from Reuters published last week discussed why this is such a hot button issue. Three of Rahm Emanuel’s challengers have a called for the end of red light cameras. According to a

Chicago Tribune poll three out of four people want to see the end of these cameras. Despite public outcry, Emanuel has continued to support red light cameras. He has continuously touted that these cameras are necessary for public safety purposes.

The cameras, which have brought in a reported $500 million to the city since 2003, do not necessarily make intersections safer. A Texas A&M study, which I have written about multiple times, concluded that there was no net safety benefit to the cameras. T-bone car accidents have declined in these intersections but rear-end traffic accidents have actually increased according to the study. So what is the benefit other than money to the city?

It will be interesting to see the results tomorrow and also if we can learn whether Emanuel’s stance on red light cameras will affect the outcome of the election. Is it an issue that will push one of the challengers over the top and force Emanuel to a runoff in May? I am thinking probably not despite the polling from the Tribune. If anything will help one of the challengers tomorrow it will be on the issue something like school closings or a potential teachers strike. We’ll find out tomorrow night.

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