HOW CHICAGO’S RED LIGHT TICKETING TURNED YELLOW LIGHTS INTO CASH

City got nearly $8 million from 77,000 tickets issued with yellow lights shorter than the city standard

How Chicago's red light ticketing turned yellow lights into cash

Image Credits: grendelkhan, Flickr

by DAVID KIDWELL


Confronted with questions about a flurry of red light camera tickets stamped with yellow times below the 3-second minimum, Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s administration said the fluctuation of hundredths of a second was normal — imperceptible to anyone behind the wheel of a car.

It turns out that fraction of a second makes a big difference to drivers and to the city’s coffers.

The Emanuel administration on Friday acknowledged that it had changed the rules on what qualifies for a $100 ticket, quietly directing its new red light camera vendor to tag drivers even when the duration of a yellow light slips just below the 3-second standard set by the city.

The policy generated 77,000 more tickets and nearly $8 million in revenue for the city over the last six months.

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