On Friday, the Chicago Tribune released the results of a study it commissioned on injury crashes and red light cameras, revealing that while right angle crash incidents have been reduced, rear-end crashes that resulted in injuries went up 22 percent. The results of the study throw cold water on the booster efforts of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s administration and raise questions about the use of red light cameras as a whole.
Chicago is the home of the nation’s largest red light camera program and encompasses 350 cameras at a variety of the city’s intersections. The red light camera program has been accused of mismanagement and embroiled the mayor’s office in a $2 million bribery scandal. But recently, administrators trotted out a seemingly redeeming statistic: that the introduction of the cameras had created a 47 percent reduction in the rate of right angle, or “T-bone,” injury crashes.
The Chicago Tribune in response commissioned a scientific study by two well-regarded transportation researchers, who found that the statistics promoted by the mayor’s office were misleading. According to the Tribune, the authors of the study found a statistically significant, but still smaller, reduction in angle and turning injury crashes by 15 percent, as well as “a statistically significant increase of 22 percent in rear-end injury collisions.” Overall, there was “a non-significant increase of 5 percent in the total number of injury crashes” that happened at intersections with red light cameras when comparing the injury crashes that occurred there before and after the cameras were present.
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