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How Will Chicago's New Red-light Camera Policy Affect The City's Busiest Streets?

The Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) has announced new changes to relax the city's "enforceable threshold" for traffic light violations, increasing the grace period of offenses from 0.1 seconds to 0.3 seconds past the light. How will these changes in Chicago's red light policy affect the city's most congested areas?

Illinois Vehicle has pulled data from the City of Chicago and compared it with our own study of Chicago's busiest intersections to detail which of the city's streets and thoroughfares will be most affected by these changes.

Quick Facts

The Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) will increase the grace period of traffic light offenses from 0.1 seconds to 0.3 seconds past the light.
The change was spurred by a recent study published by the Northwestern University Transportation Center.
In addition, the city has announced the removal of several red light cameras and the installation of several more at intersections in and around the area of the Loop.

Overall Trends

Chicago saw a 31.3% in traffic light violations throughout 2016 as compared to the year before it, with a majority of said violations accounted for across the months of June, July, August, and September. Of the 151 intersections with red light cameras installed across the city, the intersection of Cicero and I-55 accounted for 29,962 of 636,448 recorded incidents, approximately 4.7% of all traffic violations within that year. 

The intersection of Lake Shore Drive and Belmont comes in second for traffic violations at a total of 22869, accounting for 3.5% of traffic violations, followed by Van Buren and Western with a total of 16,969 offenses, approximately 2.6% of all traffic violations in Chicago that year.

On a year-by-year comparison, Chicago saw a 32.2% increase in traffic light violations in 2016 when compared to the previous year's estimate of 484,772 instances.

As expected, the highest concentration of traffic light violations peaked over the summer within the span of three months, with July accumulating the highest percentage of 65,418 offenses, roughly 10.2% of all traffic light violations in the city during that year.

Concentration of Traffic Light Violations Throughout Chicago

Along with the announced extensions to Chicago's enforced grace period for traffic signal violations, the city announced the removal of red light cameras at several intersections which have dealt out a majority of tickets within the last year, but otherwise had shown lower than desired performance rates at preventing fatal vehicle crashes.

The intersections where red light cameras will be decommissioned are the following: 5th Street and Stony Island Avenue; Western Avenue and 71st Street; Western and Pershing Road; Grand and Oak Park avenues: Irving Park Road and Kedzie Avenue; and Peterson Avenue and Pulaski Road.

In addition, the city announced the installation of new red light cameras at several new locations across the city, focusing primarily in and around the area of the Loop, including the corner of Wacker Drive and Lake Street as well as the intersection of Michigan Avenue ad Jackson Boulevard.


In comparing the City of Chicago's traffic light violation data with our own study on Chicago's traffic patterns, our study concluded that two of the Chicagoland Interstate's busiest thoroughfares will be impacted by the recent changes in traffic light enforcement. With the removal of the traffic light monitor from the Irving Park Road and Kedzie Avenue, the stretch of I-294 between O'Hare Way to Irving Park Road is likely to see an influx of traffic.

Likewise, with the addition of a new traffic light monitor at the corner of Pershing Road and Martin Luther King Drive, the I-90/I-94 from Dan Ryan Expressway to Exit 59C North onto Pershing should expect to see a greater concentration of potential traffic light violations within the foreseeable future.