OFF THE WIRE
By Heather Cherone
JEFFERSON PARK — Red-light cameras at six intersections will be removed after a study by the Northwestern University Transportation Center found that they did nothing to protect motorists, city officials announced.
The red-light cameras to be removed did not reduce the number of crashes even though there were a high number of violations recorded, according to the study by the traffic center.
Two cameras will be removed from each of the following intersections:
• 95th Street and Stony Island Avenue
• Western Avenue and 71st Street
• Western Avenue and Pershing Road
• Grand and Oak Park avenues
• Peterson Avenue and Pulaski Road.
At the same time, city officials have proposed installing new red-light cameras at five intersections where officials said they might be more effective.
Two cameras will be will be installed at each of the following intersections:
• Wacker Drive and Lake Street
• Michigan Avenue and Jackson Boulevard
• Dearborn and Grand avenues
• Pershing Road and Martin Luther King Drive.
In addition, four cameras will be installed at Central Avenue, Foster Avenue, Northwest Highway and Milwaukee Avenue.
The new locations for the red-light cameras were picked "based on traffic volume, the design of the intersection, a high number of angle and turning crashes and a low number of rear-end crashes," officials said.
Transportation officials will hold community meetings before any red-light camera is removed or installed.
The 104-page study from the Northwestern University Traffic Center compared before-and-after crash data at 85 intersections with red-light cameras to 103 intersections that were not monitored by cameras.
Chicago's red-light camera program should continue because it led to a 19 percent reduction in serious side-angle and turning crashes, a 10 percent reduction in injury-producing crashes and a measurable “spillover effect” that improved safety at intersections without cameras, according to the study.
However, rear-end crashes increased 14 percent at intersections with red-light cameras as compared with those that did not have the cameras.
"Federal traffic safety research has found that side-angle crashes cause five times more damage than rear-end crashes as well as being more likely to cause fatalities and serious injuries," according to a statement from Chicago transportation officials.
The cameras became a major issue in the 2015 mayoral race, with Cook County Board Commissioner Jesus "Chuy" Garcia vowing to remove all the red-light cameras if elected.
A few days after Garcia's announcement, Emanuel announced he would remove 50 cameras at 25 intersections and give red-light violators a chance to attend traffic school in lieu of paying $100 for a first violation.
In all, Emanuel has removed 78 red-light cameras at 39 intersections since taking office, leaving 306 red-light cameras at 151 intersections.