CHICAGO (CBS) — The Emanuel administration was standing by the city’s scandal-plagued red light camera program on Friday, in the face of a Chicago Tribune study revealing the city’s safety claims have been overblown.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) Commissioner Rebekah Scheinfeld have maintained the primary reason for installing hundreds of red light cameras across the city is “a matter of public safety.”
“As I’ve noted, we have a significant number of crashes, especially crashes resulting in serious injury or fatality, every year,” Scheinfeld said.
A study commissioned by the Chicago Tribune found, while right-angle T-bone crashes have gone down at intersections with red light cameras since 2005, the drop is not nearly as significant as the city has claimed.
The city has boasted a 47 percent reduction in right-angle crashes at intersections with red light cameras. However, the Tribune study found the city did not factor in significant changes in the way the state tracks traffic accidents, the improved safety of modern vehicles, or changes in traffic flow due to the recession. The Tribune study showed a 15 percent drop in right-angle crashes, but also a 22 percent increase in rear-end crashes, likely due to drivers slamming on their brakes to avoid a ticket.