Red-Light Cameras and Rear-End Crashes: Chicago Debate

Red-Light Cameras and Rear-End Crashes: Chicago Debate

According to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), more than 40% percent of all crashes in this country are intersection accidents. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) data from 2004 found that 9,100 people died and 1,500,000 people were injured in intersection-related crashes.

RLRs Cause Accidents

What’s happening here? It seems that most of these accidents happen because one of the drivers is running a red light and crashes into the car who is moving through the intersection with right of way.

This is called an “RLR” and the traditional response to RLRs has been to have police monitor dangerous intersections to try and prevent drivers from running the light. However, having police officers sitting there either as a deterrent (where traffic can easily see the patrol car parked there) or having police officers actually ticketing drivers who speed through red lights, isn’t enough. There are too many intersections, for one thing. For another, it’s not cost effective for many communities to have their police officers sitting on traffic detail.

Solution? The Red Light Camera.

According to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), red light cameras supplement police efforts in preventing crashes caused by red light running.

Which meant that lots of communities — like Chicago — installed these traffic cameras at intersections in an effort to combat RLR accidents. Go here to see the online map of locations where red light cameras have been installed in the Chicago area.

Chicago Controversy Over Effectiveness of Red Light Cameras

Now, there is a question of how effective this new technology really is in preventing wrecks and stopping RLRs. In an editorial, the Chicago Tribune argues that the red light program isn’t working.

Worse, a new research study suggests that not only do the red light cameras fail to stop people from running red lights, they are contributing to more CHICAGO REAR-END COLLISIONS. Read more about that study here.

Candidates running against the current Chicago Mayor are calling for the red light cameras to be suspended.

So, what happens with the red light camera strategy in Chicago and other parts of Illinois and Indiana? Well, for one thing — if that study is true, then rear end crashes at red light camera locations may have an argument that the rear-end accident was NOT caused by the rear driver but instead had the driver in front contributing to the crash because of the RLR technology.

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