Skip navigation
The Habeas Citebook: Prosecutorial Misconduct - Header
× You have 2 more free articles available this month. Subscribe today.

Chicago’s ‘Despicable’ Red-Light Camera System Exposed

As of October 2019, Chicago’s 300 red light cameras netted $35 million in fines, penalties, and collection fees.

According to an investigation by ABC 7, the city is setting traps for unwary drivers by reducing the length of time the traffic lights remain green and yellow while increasing the red-light time.

At 87th and Lafayette in Chatham, for example, the two directions with cameras have lights that remain green for 20 and 29 seconds, respectively. But the direction without a camera has a green light for 69 seconds.

Mark Wallace, leader of Citizens to Abolish Red Light Cameras, said, “That’s really significant and you just generate a lot more violations by having a shorter green on a red light.”

Wallace’s group tipped off ABC, which led to the investigation. The cameras at 87th and Lafayette had generated $1,041,184.38 from January through October 2019, according to city records.

“The question is why is a green light shorter where the red light camera is at the very same intersection,” said Wallace.

ABC’s investigation found that at Garfield Boulevard and Wentworth Avenue in Fuller Park, the directions with cameras have 30 seconds for green and yellow lights combined while the direction without a camera had 47 seconds. And in one case, drivers had just 20 seconds for green and yellow lights combined.
Kevin O’Malley, managing deputy commissioner of the Chicago Department of Transportation, claimed the time disparities saved lives and reduced injuries. The shortened green light times “should be enough time, for the traffic flow that is there at the time,” O’Malley said.

But traffic safety expert Timothy Galarnyk disagreed. “[A]ctually, it’s kind of despicable,” Galarnyk said, adding, “That’s a trap. The green should be the same length, but if there’s no camera they give you more time. If there’s a camera, they give you half the amount of time, which means they’re going to catch you running that light.” 


As a digital subscriber to Criminal Legal News, you can access full text and downloads for this and other premium content.

Subscribe today

Already a subscriber? Login



CLN Subscribe Now Ad 450x600
CLN Subscribe Now Ad
BCI - 90 Day Campaign - 1 for 1 Match