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More Diminishing Returns For Red Light Cameras

By Chuck Sudo in News on Mar 27, 2014 4:30PM

Image via NBC Chicago screen grab.

Tickets issued from Chicago’s red light cameras have declined for the fifth consecutive year. Mike Brockway of The Expired Meter also noted that tickets from red light cameras have declined 20 percent in the past five years.

According to documents obtained by the City Finance Department, Brockway writes that Chicago’s red light camera network issued 579,460 tickets last year compared to 612,079 tickets in 2012. The high-water mark was in 2009 when 722,395 tickets were issued. With the decline in tickets comes lower revenue from fines associated with them. Brockway calculated the city has lost $14.3 million drop in fines during that five-year period; the reduced revenues from 2012 to last year was $3.2 million.

Since both Chicago’s red light camera and speed camera networks are crouched in a “safety versus revenue” argument the city can always claim it’s winning. That is exactly what Chicago Department of Transportation spokesman Pete Scales did to Brockway. Scales sided with Team Public Safety and said "these numbers show the enforcement program is having a positive impact and that by decreasing the amount of red-light running in Chicago, we are making Chicago a safer city."

Brockway spoke with Northwestern University Center for Public Safety’s Roy Lucke who said other factors may be involved, particularly a downward trend in total miles driven in automobiles across the country, but agreed the decline in red light camera tickets is a good thing.