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Transportation Government

Chicago Red Light Cameras Issue Thousands of Bogus Tickets 229

Posted by Soulskill
from the it's-not-a-bug,-it's-a-funding-mechanism dept.
mpicpp points out a report in the Chicago Tribune saying that thousands of the city's drivers have been wrongfully ticketed for red light violations because of "faulty equipment, human tinkering, or both." The Tribune's investigation uncovered the bogus tickets by analyzing the data from over 4 million tickets issued in the past seven years. Cameras that for years generated just a few tickets daily suddenly caught dozens of drivers a day. One camera near the United Center rocketed from generating one ticket per day to 56 per day for a two-week period last summer before mysteriously dropping back to normal. Tickets for so-called rolling right turns on red shot up during some of the most dramatic spikes, suggesting an unannounced change in enforcement. One North Side camera generated only a dozen tickets for rolling rights out of 100 total tickets in the entire second half of 2011. Then, over a 12-day spike, it spewed 563 tickets — 560 of them for rolling rights. Many of the spikes were marked by periods immediately before or after when no tickets were issued — downtimes suggesting human intervention that should have been documented. City officials said they cannot explain the absence of such records.
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Chicago Red Light Cameras Issue Thousands of Bogus Tickets

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  • by mi (197448) <slashdot-2012@virtual-estates.net> on Friday July 18, 2014 @05:16PM (#47485871) Homepage

    By appealing and not agreeing to "settle" with the prosecution — in fact, I did not even want to "talk to them" other than during a hearing and in judge's presence. This made it necessary for the actual officer, who (supposedly) reviewed the ticket before it was issued, to appear in court — which he didn't do. Maybe, I was just "lucky" at that and, maybe, Chicago would've allowed the prosecution to avoid presenting the officer for testimony, but...

    The automatic cameras allow for issuing a massive number of tickets — because human police don't need to do much work. If more people appealed — thus necessitating the human policemen's presence in court for each such ticket, maybe, they wouldn't be such a valuable proposition for the local authorities.

    • These automatic tickets are CIVIL fines instead of criminal. No one has to show up. If you don't pay they just send you to a collection agency.

  • Nobody is fooled by the name "red light camera" . The entire point of these things have always been generation of revenue by ticketing people for rolling right turns. They serve no credible public safety interest of any kind.

    • A 10 second warning counter has been shown to be more effective. But those cost money and don't generate money.

      Still, red light cameras do serve a safety purpose. While increasing the number of accidents, they do decrease the fatality of accidents. Translating 40mph tbone collisions into 20mph rear end collisions.

    • by rahvin112 (446269)

      You are incorrect. The camera's were conceived as an FHWA program for specific intersections to reduce fatalities.

      Now that we are finally bringing most of the nations roads to standards past 1970 the number of fatalities on our nations roads have been dropping at a considerable rate for quite a while. The result is that now intersection related fatalities now outpace roadway design related fatalities. After a lot of research the FWHA determined that many many of these fatalities are occurring in the same in

      • You are incorrect. The camera's were conceived as an FHWA program for specific intersections to reduce fatalities.

        Who cares why it originally started? What's this got to do with reality?

        Had these cameras remained as ONLY a safety device they would have continued to work. We've still got the problem that red light fatalities are increasing nearly exponentially and we're going to have to deal with it.

        Exponential? Quacks like bullshit to me.

        All material I've been able to find from those on both sides of red light camera argument universally show *decline* in intersection deaths whether there are red light cameras present or not. Even IIHS paper which is firmly pro RLC posts declines in areas where no red light cameras are present.

      • You are incorrect. The camera's were conceived as an FHWA program for specific intersections to reduce fatalities.

        Um, I really hate to have to tell you this, but what they were "conceived" for is very different from what they are actually used for.

        The camera's actually did reduce fatalities at some of those high fatality intersections.

        But by now we also have LOTS of statistics saying that in many cities, they actually increased not just the number but also the average severity of accidents. I am aware this is counterintuitive, nevertheless it is true.

        • by Reziac (43301) *

          Not to mention that at camera-enforcement intersections, they usually shorten up the yellow light (sometimes below the federal minimums) -- which maximizes tickets while reducing the amount of time drivers have to react. When you know you're about to get in trouble for not making the right decision fast enough, do you really make better decisions? I doubt it. Evidence is that under such circumstances, more poor decisions are made, hence more (and more-severe) accidents.

          Adding just one second to the yellow l

    • by Reziac (43301) *

      All sorts of documentation supporting the fact that it's all about revenue and not at all about safety:

      http://thenewspaper.com/rlc/re... [thenewspaper.com]

      http://thenewspaper.com/rlc/re... [thenewspaper.com]

  • As always with these cameras. It's NOT about the law, what's legal, or enforcing the law.

    It's about making a profit. A revenue stream. I'd say "first and foremost", but that implies there's another reason. And there just isn't. It's about extracting ever more money from the citizens through any means necessary. Even though Chicago's signing away 90% OF THE TICKET REVENUES TO THE CAMERA COMPANY!

    And the cameras aren't set up "everywhere" to give uniform coverage.

    They're set up in areas and in such a way

    • Traffic cameras should only be used in high accident intersections, assuming your goal is safety.
      • by roc97007 (608802)

        The interesting thing about that.... google "red light cameras increase accidents" and read a few articles.

  • Movie Review (Score:5, Informative)

    by Hulfs (588819) on Friday July 18, 2014 @06:25PM (#47486297)

    As much as I don't like these cameras, when you get a ticket in Chicago, and most of the suburbs I know of around here, you're provided w/ the means to actually watch your car commit the violation. I got a ticket for a rolling right turn on red last summer. You key your license and the citation number into a city website (google it, you'll find it) and you can watch an mpeg4 stream of your car passing through the intersection or turning on red or whatever - with a little curl magic you can download it as a keepsake.

    Armed with the video, you should be able to appeal the ticket if you truly didn't commit the offense or if the camera went bonkers and ticketed everyone going through the intersection.

    If it's a borderline case, most people don't bother with the hassle of appealing and just pay the fine...miss a day of work and sit in a traffic court for hours (and possibly pay court costs) or pay $100.

    My observation around the Chicago area is that people are mostly just butthurt because they're getting ticketed for infractions that were lightly enforced before due to labor / manhour constraints of the police forces.

  • The city is filled with dirty crooks in office, always has been. Chicago is the place where not only does the dead vote, but they vote TWICE!

  • The article doesn't list the days in question.

    There are certain days in the winter where there are icy conditions and cars slide through lights or rolling right turns for safety reasons. Of course, the cameras don't care.

  • If you allow municipalities to a) collect the fines and b) game the system be prepared for problems.

    In BC it is mostly the opposite. Ticketing and cost of enforcement IS covered by the municipalities (who fund the police) but the fines go to the provincial government. So increased enforcement (which may be a good thing) will cost the municipality more. And if they are willing to fund that then good for them. But they won't increase their revenues. And in fact may increase their policing costs if the ticketi

  • The primary witness in all this is software.
    As such the software needs to be available for cross examination the same as
    any other software. Perhaps not open source but clearly open and testable
    interfaces.

    Further any revision and change must be subject to audit. The obvious issue
    is bogus citations because code did not operate as per specifications in the
    law. All citations issued while the bogus code was "live" would then need
    to be reviewed.

    A contract service should not be able to adjust anything not sp

  • So, a heavily indebted city has a rogue revenue generation mechanism that would take time and effort to fix? Yeah, we'll get right on that.

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