Red-light cameras in Chicago suburbs spread rapidly, despite decline across rest of country
CHICAGO (Oct. 14, 2019) – Illinois drivers have shelled out more than $1 billion in red-light camera fines over the past 10 years, according to new analysis by the nonpartisan Illinois Policy Institute. The report is the first-ever comprehensive look at red-light cameras across the state.
Annual revenue from red-light camera tickets in Illinois more than doubled from 2008 to 2018. This was driven by a rapid increase in cameras for local governments outside Chicago, which more than tripled to 301 cameras from just 86 in 2008. The Chicago suburbs generated almost as much revenue from red-light cameras as the city of Chicago in 2018.
As Illinois taxpayers have paid more and more for red-light camera programs in recent years, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reported a 35% decline in the number of communities operating red-light cameras nationwide since 2012.
Highlights of the report include:
- In total, Illinois local governments generated more than $113.2 million from red-light cameras in 2018, up from $53.5 million in 2008. Cities outside Chicago accounted for $56.5 million of the 2018 total, compared with just $5.4 million in 2008.
- There were at least 301 red-light cameras in the Chicago suburbs in 2018. Ten years prior, there were only 86 installed. At least 89 communities outside Chicago currently have red-light cameras.
- Meanwhile, after having 260 red-light cameras in 2008, the city of Chicago peaked with 388 cameras in 2014 and had 309 cameras in 2018.
- The analysis found only one municipality outside the greater Chicago area with red-light cameras: Granite City in Madison County, which has generated over $1.6 million from two cameras since 2010.
- Most cameras outside Chicago: Gurnee operated 15 red-light cameras in 2018, Elk Grove Village operated 10, and Aurora and Hoffman Estates each used nine.
- Most red-light camera fees outside Chicago: The city of Berwyn has generated $19.2 million since 2009; Lakemoor has collected $19.2 million since 2012; and Country Club Hills has generated $16.5 million since 2009.
- Eye-popping revenue: Oakbrook Terrace has collected more than $9.3 million from just two red-light cameras since installing them in August 2017.
- As of 2018, the report found the following municipalities contracted with SafeSpeed, the red-light camera operator currently at the center of several federal investigations: Summit, Matteson, Chicago Heights, Berwyn, Lakemoor, Hillside, Skokie, Westchester, Alsip, Oak Lawn, North Riverside, Country Club Hills, Crestwood, Tinley Park, Evergreen Park, Justice, Oakbrook Terrace and River Forest.
Quote from Austin Berg, director of content strategy for the nonpartisan Illinois Policy Institute:
“It’s clear local governments are using red-light cameras as cash machines to pad their budgets. Illinoisans have paid mightily for a program that is a vehicle for corruption rather than safety.
“There is little oversight or transparency for red-light camera operations, which has made these programs ripe for abuse. Illinois lawmakers should do right by taxpayers by abolishing them, just as other states across the nation are doing.”
To view the full report, “Illinois red-light cameras have collected more than $1B from drivers since 2008,” visit illin.is/redlightcam.
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