Red light cameras have been a topic I have written about numerous times on this site. The issue has been often criticized by the media and academics alike. The characters behind the contracts with the city of Chicago have been put in jail for fraud, all the while multiple studies have shown they bring almost no positive safety impact on the intersections where the lights are placed.
Prior to the Covid-19 pandamic outbreak, which led to a shelter-in-place throughout the state, the Illinois house of representatives passed a bill that would have outlawed red light cameras. That bill never had a chance to reach the Senate as the state legislature closed down like most businesses.
Regardless, red light cameras are still in effect in Chicago and throughout Illinois. The Chicago Sun Times reported last week that red light camera violations are down 45% in March compared to February 2020. And compared to March 2019, red-light violations in Chicago were down 54%, numbering just 19,840 in March 2020 compared to 42,812 in March 2019. “At this time, we are seeing a nationwide trend of fewer citations overall, driven by the lower amount of traffic on the roads,” said Neil Franz, a spokesman for Conduent State & Local Solutions Inc., the vendor that operates Chicago’s red-light cameras.This is no surprise as motor vehicle traffic is way down since the shelter-in-place order took effect in mid-march. I have not seen any numbers for April yet.
As I have written multiple times in the past, I do not see any benefit of red light cameras other than a money grab for local governments. Studies have been performed by engineers and traffic experts that conclude there is no beneficial safety impact for having red light cameras in place. What is the point of having these in place if they do not make our intersections safer? I hope that when the Illinois legislature is back in session (presumably this Fall), they take up this bill again and outlaw these cameras foreever.