Chicago’s Red Light Cameras
Devices across the city are used to record traffic signal violations
The city of Chicago first introduced red light cameras in 2003. At the end of 2021, there were 149 active red light cameras in Chicago. The program is overseen by the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) and it is notorious for catching drivers turning on red lights without stopping or running the light entirely.
Although these may be common occurrences, the violations can result in serious injury of drivers, pedestrians and bikers. Data from 2005 to 2019 shows that red light cameras decreased the number of T-bone crashes by 66% and reduced all crashes by 57%.
If a car is caught on a red light camera, the owner of the vehicle can be charged with an administrative violation. This is not a moving violation and is “similar to a parking ticket.” These citations can be verified, contested, and paid for on Chicago’s Finance Department site here.
The safety benefits of the devices are proven, however there is also a rising number of complaints about the surveillance. Earlier this year, carjacking victims found they were responsible for their thieves’ red light violations. Since the citations are sent to the owner of the vehicle, the thieves have no connection to the tickets.
Although victims tried to contest the red light cameras, the City of Chicago still required the owners to pay the original fine plus late fees. After significant objection from the community, they were able to request a refund online.
CDOT states that recordings from red light cameras are reviewed by the equipment vendors as well as the City’s Department of Revenue. Any images or video related to an incident can also be viewed by vehicle owners online with a citation number.
The interactive map below shows each camera currently active.