- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Chicago stands to lose $17 million in revenue this year by effectively delaying the shutters on its massive system of red-light cameras by two-tenths of a second, transportation officials said Tuesday following publication of a city-funded study.

The Chicago Department of Transportation agreed this week to immediately extend the so-called “grace period” between the time a traffic light turns red and the moment a ticket is issued from 0.1 seconds to 0.3 seconds, heeding the advice of report released Monday by the Northwestern University Transportation Center.

The authors of the $300,000 city-commissioned study wrote that “enforcing violations that occur within fractions of a second after the light turns red might not provide significant safety benefits,” and noted the existence of a genuine “dilemma zone” encountered by drivers as a light turns from yellow to red.

“You could have a law-abiding person who intends to stop and who is unable to come to a complete stop,” the center’s director, Hani Mahmassani, told the Chicago Tribune.

According to the study, Chicago leads the nation in red-light cameras with 306and issued 586,415 red-light tickets during 2016, CBS News reported Tuesday. About about 29 percent of those $100 tickets were issued to motorists caught on camera between one-tenths and three-tenths of a second after a light turned red, however, suggesting the city stands to lose upwards of $17 million in revenue this year alone as a result of the policy change, transportation officials said Tuesday.

“We want to emphasize that extending this enforcement threshold is not an invitation to drivers to try to beat the red light,” CDOT Commissioner Rebekah Scheinfeld said in a statement, CBS reported. “By accepting the recommendation of the academic team, we are giving the benefit of the doubt to well-intentioned drivers while remaining focused on the most reckless behaviors.”

The slight “enforcement threshold” increase will “maintain the safety benefits of the program while ensuring the program’s fairness,” the agency said.

Red-light cameras in both New York City and Philadelphia currently operate on a .03 second grace period, the Tribune reported.

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