Why Chicago Should Remove Red Light Cameras

By Brandon Mioduszewski
May 4, 2019

Red traffic cameras – are they ethical? Although many proponents of these cameras argue that they are a common sense regulation on American drivers, many Libertarians and conservatives such as Ohio Governor, John Kasich, believe that they unethically siphon hard-earned money from the pockets of drivers. They are not wrong – red light cameras have been shown to both increase rear-end accidents, and lead to large amounts of corruption. As a result, the states of Arizona, Ohio, Maine, South Carolina, West Virginia, and Wisconsin have all placed bans on red light cameras. It is time for the city of Chicago to step up and remove its red light cameras.

The business behind red light cameras is shady. According to citizensabolishredlightcameras.com, an citizen-based issue dedicated to eliminating red light cameras, the city of Chicago has made $500 million in tickets since 2002. Although revenue is needed for the town of Chicago, this money earned from citizens is inherently unethical. In fact, the city had to pay back $38.75 million to citizens due to lawsuits regarding the lack of second-notice warnings given to citizens who were issued tickets.

Chicago city officials have also been reported to have “fudged on time limitations to ensure more undeserved tickets were issued” according to the News-Gazette. This is not the only instance where city officials have placed the best interest of Chicagoans in the backseat.

According to the Chicago Tribune in 2017, the traffic systems company, Reflex, was exposed in a huge bribery scandal within the city of Chicago in 2012. Karen Finley, former CEO of Redflex, was indicted for bribing former City Hall manager, John Bills, with $2,000 per camera installed. This has caused many city officials and Redflex executives to be discharged from their positions. Greed will continue to charge city officials and corporations, and more loopholes will be found to profit off of Chicagoans.  

Along with the issues of corruption, red light cameras are also relatively ineffective. According to the National Motorists Association in 2009, red light cameras implemented within the city of Los Angeles lead to an increase in crashed within 20/32 intersections in the city. According to the site, “People see the light flash and they slam on their brakes,” [local attorney Sherman] Ellison said. “That’s just human nature. As a result, more accidents, more rear end accidents.”

Furthemore, the Chicago Tribune reported in 2014 that red light cameras in Chicago have only reduced right angle crashes by 15%, while rear-end crashes have increased by 22%.

Evidently, red light cameras are dangerous to drivers and corruption magnets. The city of Chicago should set aside its thirst for red light camera revenue and follow in the footsteps of many other U.S cities and states who have outlawed the unethical cameras.

  1. https://www.citizenstoabolishredlightcameras.com/
  2. http://www.news-gazette.com/opinion/editorials/2018-02-03/abolish-traffic-cameras.html
  3. https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/watchdog/redlight/ct-red-light-cameras-lawsuit-settled-meT-20170206-story.html
  4. https://www.motorists.org/blog/la-red-light-cameras-increase-accidents/
  5. https://www.chicagotribune.com/ct-red-light-camera-safety-met-20141219-story.html