Audit of CDOT’s Red Light Camera Program

On May 14, 2013, OIG published an audit of the City’s Red-Light Camera (RLC) program.

The audit found that Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) was unable to substantiate its claims that the City chose to install and maintain red-light cameras at intersections with the highest angle crash rates in order to increase safety. Additionally, the audit found that:

  • CDOT was unable to produce evidence that it continually evaluates cameras for relocation, as stated in its “Intersection Prioritization Steps for Relocations”. Further, since the program started in 2003, the City has relocated only ten cameras from five intersections out of the present total of 384 cameras at 190 locations
  • For one set of cameras, the City is spending nearly 56% of the purchase price on maintenance expenditures each year
  • CDOT was unable to verify the accuracy of the information it uses to determine RLC installation locations

“The City cannot effectively manage its programs unless it measures its programs,” said Inspector General Joe Ferguson. “In addition to finding that the City cannot prove RLC installation locations are based on safety considerations, we discovered a striking lack of basic recordkeeping and analysis for this $70 million program.”

The audit, which was designed to answer nine questions posed by six members of the City Council (and can be read via the link on the right), sought to determine if red-light camera installations were made based on CDOT’s stated primary criterion of reducing angle crashes to increase safety.

OIG made two recommendations for the City going forward. First, the City should establish and follow clear criteria for its decisions on where to locate automated traffic law enforcement systems. Second, the City should retain records and verifiable documentation of the process for each location decision.

CDOT’s response is included in the audit. CDOT stated that it intends to review the RLC installation and removal criteria and determine what, if any modifications should be made going forward. Additionally, it has pledged to work with the winning RLC vendor to review current camera locations and ensure that the criteria have been met and appropriately documented at intersections where cameras are now located.

“I support these stated intentions and look forward to the results of the analyses, which OIG will assess in a future audit of the program,” said Ferguson.