2 Investigators: The Red-Light Cameras That Generate The Most Tickets

Send Your Tips To Pam Zekman

CHICAGO (CBS) – Red-light cameras are big moneymakers. And certain intersections are top spots for getting tickets.

CBS2’s Pam Zekman identifies the best intersections to avoid in both the city of the Chicago and the suburbs — if you don’t want to get nailed.

As the city moves to install cameras to catch speeders, the red light cameras continue to be controversial.

The tell-tale flashing light means another motorist has been hit with a red light ticket at Lake Shore Drive and Belmont, which was last year’s top intersection for red light tickets. There were 18,446 red light tickets issued, bringing in more than $1.5 million in revenue.

“It deterred me,” Victoria Lautman says. “I used to go through on every yellow light here.”

Since the city first installed red-light cameras eight years ago, the intersection at 99th and Halsted has raised the most revenue over that period — $8.6 million in fines paid for 99,975 tickets.

Other top Red Light ticket corners in the city include:

Belmont and Kedzie, with 75,259 tickets; Kostner and North Avenue, with 62,530; and Hollywood and Sheridan, with 57,870 tickets issued.

Cermak and Harlem in Berwyn is one of the top suburban intersections for red light tickets. Last year, 15,837 tickets were issued and raised $817,000 in revenue for the town.

Other top suburban locations last year include: Rand Road and Gold Road in Des Plaines, with 8,745 tickets; Cicero and 95th Street in Oak Lawn, with 5,754 tickets; and North and Gary Avenues in Carol Stream — 1,916 tickets.

Have accidents been reduced as a result of these cameras? Not really, says one expert.

“My own research has shown that red light cameras do not offer a significant safety benefit,” University of Illinois Prof. Rajiv Shah says. “I think the purpose of the red light cameras, the way they’re being used now is to raise revenues for cities.”

That revenue amounts to about $61 million a year for Chicago.

City officials continue to say the purpose of the cameras is not to raise money, but to increase safety.

The city claims they reduce the number of accidents, but officials have not come up with documentation.

Here are the data used for this report:

Suburban statistics

Top Chicago Intersections, Most Recent Year

Top Intersections, Multi-Year

More from Pam Zekman
  • DHuff

    The red light camera intersection in Fox River Grove, has a white line that seems to be too far back of the intersection for the driver to get a good view of the intersection, so if you move forward to be able to see. Bing the camera goes off. I’d really like to know what the criteria is for street markings.

    • Facts Anyone?

      Since video is sent with every violation it would be great to see one of this violation. You would think YouTube would have a few – but I can’t find one.

  • Ms.Callaham

    My red light ticket was doubled while I was in the process of appealing getting a ticket on a yellow arrow for “Not stopping long enough”. It took a very long time to get a reply to my inquiry, and not only did I get a run around from the clerk who I tracked down after a great deal of searching, and zero help in finding the right court to appeal the ticket, I was also told it would be a waste of time because they would not rule against the ticket issued in at Roosevelt and Mannheim. When I finally did get a rejection to my letter of appeal, I also received notice that my ticket had doubled to $200 in one month! It was obvious that I stopped because cars were advancing in their turns, so it was ruled I did not stop long enough… Not sure how that could be for safety on a yellow turning light?

    • Facts Anyone?

      Since video is sent with every violation it would be great to see one of this violation. You would think YouTube would have a few really cheap ones like this – but I can’t find one.

  • K. Harris

    I was very sure that the intersection of southbound 89th & stony island would be on the list and I was right. Anyone who drives past this intersection as I do can tell you these particular cameras are nothing more than a trap. You watch the “don’t walk” sign count down to zero & the light stays green. Without warning turns red. There have been several accidents here & this has been the case for several years !

    • Facts Anyone?

      Since video is sent with every violation it would be nice to see one of this violation. You would think YouTube would have a few really cheap ones like this – but I can’t find one.

  • Afro

    In regards to the traffic cameras

    The Chicago Tribune has published the complete transcript of reporter David Kidwell’s interview with Emanuel.

    It’s already been compared to a David Mamet script. Kidwell accuses Emanuel of covering up and lying about his real motives in pushing speed camera legislation through the General Assembly. Emanuel throws it back in Kidwell’s face, telling the reporter has no right to the information. Nor does Kidwell have any right to question a mayor about how he makes decisions.

    Source: http://www.nbcchicago.com/blogs/ward-room/Emanuel-to-Tribune-Mind-Your-Own-Business-139218964.html#ixzz1miJhU8iF

  • Brian

    If the city is so concerned about safety, and the cameras are safety tools and not revenue tools, take the money out of the equation and have the tickets posted to a license and not having a driver fined.

  • Lyndia

    how can anyone forget 95th and western?

  • MaryE

    If the city is so conerned about safety, then make yellow lights longer and stop sending folks videos that are sped up as proof they did not stop “long enough”. If you stop at then proceed and video does not show any on coming traffic, it is obviously not for safety reason the ticket was issued.

    • Facts Anyone?

      Since video is sent with every violation it would be great to see one of these speeded up videos. You would think YouTube would have one – but I can’t find any.

  • MareCad TITANIC

    ALL these cameras should be removed NOW. If regular taxes aren’t enough, then WE THE PEOPLE need a total accounting of where OUR cash went !!!

  • Toonces

    I just slam on the brakes when I approach a yellow or red at those intersections to make damned sure that I don’t get a ticket EVER.. Once I get rear-ended (which is bound to happen) I will sue the living feces out of the driver behind me and the state of Illinois, and make some $$$$$ of my own,.

  • Ken

    I recall several years ago having an accident due to a driver’s fear of being ticketed by a red-light camera. When driving north on 1st Avenue (Maywood) the green signal light at Washington Blvd unexpectedly went blank for a couple seconds. I immediately began braking wondering if the light was going to turn yellow. A split second later the driver in front of me slammed on his brakes coming to an immediate stop a few inches before the intersection. If the light had turned yellow he could legally have gone through. However, when I then pressed as hard as I could on the brake my truck simply would not slow down fast enough – perhaps because I was already breaking. So I bump into the car. I apologized to him for not being able to stop quick enough and asked him why he slammed on his brake so fast when the light had obviously mal functioned. He said, “I take no chances with those ___ cameras.” Funny thing was there was no camera at that intersection!


    It is my sincere hope that Rahm is a one term mayor. What a shifty-eyed gonniff!

    • Andrew Petersen

      Because the cameras are His Fault? Blame Daley for the cameras and Blago and Ryan for allowing them in this state in the first place.

  • Don

    3 of the Top Ten Camera are on Stoney Island Avenue from 76th St to 95th and generated over 2.2 million dollars last year. And that doesn’t count the other 3 intersections with cameras in that straight 4.6 mile stretch. This must be the safest 4 miles in the city or is it just the most ticked.

  • sickened

    When I stop at a right on red, I don’t make the turn until it turns green. Sometimes there’s 15 or more cars behind me. Before the camera days, I’d be getting beeped at but now nobody beeps, just sit there and wait knowing if anyone goes thru they’ll be force donating $100 to pay for some sleeeezbag village/city dept head’s raise and lavish pension.

    • Facts Anyone?

      That is just silly.

  • survivor-of-a-red-light-runner-killer-victim

    I can tell you this right now–anyone including experts that say that red-light cameras don’t save lives are idiots. I was almost killed by a red-light runner years ago!!! If I didn’t slam down my brakes he would’ve crashed into my driver’s side door and killed me at an instant! — TRUE STORY! — Everyone saw what happened to me and was in shock! No traffic moved for several seconds while I held down the horn after he zoomed passed me just a couple of inches away from my bumper!

    Again, anyone who says that traffic light cameras don’t save lives or just purely money-makers–you’re an idiot!

    • Afro

      You wouldn’t have died you’re a moron besides if you would have we would all be better off.

    • Don

      I am glad you survived but I am missing something. How would a Red Light Camera have save you?

    • THEE Yard Ape

      @survivor – you honestly have to be one of the stupidest fuking people to have ever walked the earth!!!! LOL !!!!!

  • cflc

    Not a fan of the cameras, but you can’t tell me they have not reduced accidents.

    • Don

      If they were reducing accidents don’t you think the city would have studies and statistics showing it. Naperville took theirs out because they weren’t reducing accidents AND they didn’t need the money.

    • Mike

      Sure I can tell you that…what makes you think the data you are spoon fed is correct??????

  • non

    Some years ago, Shaumburg placed a camera at an intersection at woodfield mall. The fact that there has never been an accident at this particular intersection was brought up by a citizen at a city hall meeting. Only then did the elected officials admit that it was a money grabbing scam, then had the camera removed

    • Facts Anyone?

      An intersection near Woodfield that NEVER had an accident. Somethings are hard to believe – but I bet there is a link to some meeting minutes or a video or something to support this one…somewhere.

      • DebS

        I agree. I live in the area and there are accidents all the time.

  • darrell jefferson

    is anyone aware that the fines imposed from redlight cameras are in violation of the VIII amendment of the constitution?

    • Facts Anyone?

      Post a link to that – I am sure it would be enlightening and would immediately put a stop to this. Why didn’t Pam tell us about that!?

      • Andrew Petersen

        Because it isn’t true.

        While I am Not a Fan of RLC’s, they do not violate any Constitutional Rights.

        Or the Higher Courts would have ruled them Illegal to operate.

  • tony

    Pam i was passing the intersection the you where at the other day.I seen you and thought you were a victim of a car accident.But as i got closer it was your make up that was running down your face.That was so scarry.Please to going outside when it rains

  • Cathy

    Thank you )Pam for the story we all know it is just for the revenue no else if anything it can cause accidents where trying to stop not to get the stupid ticket. We pay and pay and they just keep looking for more of our money. I was the 4th car going through when the light changed and I called and told them you are trapping people when it is slick with this weather and you try to stop so you don’t get a ticket it is more dangerous. Everyone should raise hell over this unfair way to get money. I have been waiting hoping someone would say something so that is why I thank you Pam . And where does all that money go ???? But we keep hearing how everyone is broke , well the people of these country sure is.. They leave us struggling to live.. I hope to see more protest on this matter..

  • Mike

    All red light cameras are is “legalized theft” of the public dollar. It is the greatest sham in the world ever developed to foist off the reason for these type of money makers is either to preserve your safety or protect “the children”. I am tired of these statements…it makes me pewk.

  • grp

    Tired of the cameras too. Very evident that they are for money.

    Write and let leaders know your feeling. Get pledges from and support candidates in elections who agree and will get the cameras out of our intersections.

    • Facts Anyone?

      Here is a foolproof strategy for getting rid of these cursed cameras. By stopping at red lights we can beat them at their own game. Who is with me!!

  • http://travel2chicago.us/chicago-news-stories-forfeb-21-2012/ Chicago News Stories for Feb 21 2012 : Travel tips, hotels, restaurants, jobs and news | Travel 2 Chicago

    […] find justice and prevent another family from feeling the pain they’re experiencing now.2 Investigators: The Red-Light Cameras That Generate The Most TicketsDo red-light cameras prevent accidents or just generate money for city governments? 2 Investigator […]

  • DebS

    I wonder if once the city starts getting paid for tickets out of the person’s IL tax refund if the violations will slow down. It can’t be much of a deterrent if the violators aren’t paying the tickets, right?

    I got one ticket in Elk Grove. Once I saw the video, I knew there was no way I could fight it. Maybe others have $100 a ticket to toss in the city’s coffers but I’d just as soon keep that money for myself. Now I make a concentrated effort to fully stop, etc. I can only hope that others do the same instead of just complaining that it’s a revenue maker. If you don’t break the law, the city won’t make money off you. It’s that simple.

  • Facts Anyone?

    Deb, you make it sound so simple – you mean you plan on just stopping? Ok, I will join you and give that a try.

    But if I get a ticket that is unfair I will post my video on YouTube and let you all know. I wonder why Pam Z. didn’t post some video of bad tickets – that would help her credibility a bit.

  • Facts Anyone?

    “The tell-tale flashing light means another motorist has been hit with a red light ticket…”

    Those cameras flash frequently and there is not a ticket every time. Every city that uses cameras reviews the pictures before the tickets are issued – they can’t ALL be tickets.

    If the very first line of this story is not true, how reliable can the rest be?

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