Red light cameras have been placed on many Chicago intersections in recent years, prompting some to question their purpose and others to wonder if safety in those areas will improve as a result. The City of Chicago has stated publicly that red light cameras are designed to hold negligent drivers liable for their actions while decreasing the number of collisions that happen elsewhere when motorists choose to ignore red lights.
Now, the Chicago Department of Transportation has released footage of several collisions around the city that were caused by motorists who failed to stop at red lights. CDOT notes that 80,000 car accidents take place in Chicago alone every year. Of those collisions, 15,000 produce injuries which translates to an average of 15 injury-causing crashes every day in the city. Drivers are not the only ones at risk, however, as 3,000 pedestrians are involved in accidents annually. Finally, 125 people are killed in Chicago traffic accidents each year.
Chicago hosts a large number of the car accidents that take place in Illinois every year in part because of the city’s high population and in part because of its crowded streets. But congestion alone does not cause any collisions. Crashes usually involve a mistake or an error by one or more drivers involved, whether it is ignoring a red light, speeding, or following too closely. In some cases, though, a driver may not make a mistake but rather a mechanical failure or a poorly designed intersection should be blamed for an accident.
In the images released by CDOT, many drivers ignored red lights at intersections and entered the area when they did not have the right-of-way. Several of these motorists ran what experts consider to be “deep red lights,” meaning that the light turned red several seconds before the vehicle proceeded into the intersection. By this point, traffic in an opposing direction may have a green light, allowing those vehicles to enter the shared space. A driver who runs a red light after opposing traffic begins to move is more likely to cause a collision.
Red light cameras are supposed to increase safety but many have questioned whether that is the motive behind the City of Chicago’s actions. Some believe that red light cameras are being used solely to increase revenue to the city – by issuing additional traffic tickets, fines payable to the city increase and the city experiences a substantial influx of cash. Additionally, there have been allegations that Chicago has reduced the length of yellow lights to three seconds in areas with red light cameras. A shorter yellow light means that motorists have less time to stop before the light changes to green and that more drivers will be guilty of running a red light. In addition to the tickets that may be at issue, more drivers running red lights is likely to cause additional collisions, further questioning the motives of the City of Chicago by its use of red light cameras.
Many drivers do not understand how red light cameras work or what their purpose is. In most cases, cameras are placed near an intersection, often at two or more corners with their lenses pointed towards the crossing itself. The cameras are linked by a computer to a guide or a trigger that tracks the motion of vehicles through the intersection while simultaneously monitoring the traffic lights. After a traffic light turns red, the device will trigger and a photograph or photographs of the vehicle running the light will be taken and stored. Most cameras are pointed at a license place and may also take pictures of the driver as he or she sits behind the wheel. This information and the photographs are stored, allowing local police to issue citations or follow up with drivers as needed.
But when a collision occurs, these cameras can serve as video evidence of the events that led up to the impact, including the conduct of each motorist. This footage can be used as a tool to assign fault and to hold a negligent driver responsible for the full outcome of an accident, including any injuries that may result.
Victims of car accidents in Chicago who are injured are forced to suffer due to the actions of others but they are not without relief. Victims can seek financial compensation for the wrongs done to them against those who acted wrong like a driver who ran a red light. Speaking with a personal injury lawyer in Chicago may help you understand your options if you have been injured or if your loved one was hurt or killed.
The lawyers at Abels & Annes, P.C. believe in fighting for victims’ rights and if a collision has affected your life, we want to fight for you. We offer a free case consultation to those who call us toll free at (855) 529-2442 or locally at (4312) 924-7575 and we are standing by 24/7/365 to help you. If you have been injured, do not hesitate. Call Abels & Annes, P.C. today.
Prior Blog Entry:
Boxer Floyd Mayweather, Jr. Facing Lawsuit for Head-On Car Accident Involving His Kids, Chicago Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, published December 12, 2014.
CDOT Releases Sobering Video Of Red Light Runners, www.ABC7Chicago.com, published December 12, 2014.