Traffic Cameras in Chicago Disproportionately Ticket Black and Latino Motorists

When then-mayor Richard M. Daley ushered in Chicago’s red-light cameras nearly two decades ago, he said they would help the city curb dangerous driving. “This is all about safety, safety of pedestrians, safety of other drivers, passengers, everyone,” he said…

But for all of their safety benefits, the hundreds of cameras that dot the city – and generate tens of millions of dollars a year for City Hall – have come at a steep cost for motorists from the city’s Black and Latino neighbourhoods. A ProPublica analysis of millions of citations found that households in majority Black and Hispanic ZIP codes received tickets at around twice the rate of those in white areas between 2015 and 2019.

The consequences have been especially punishing in Black neighbourhoods, which have been hit with more than half a billion dollars in penalties over the last 15 years, contributing to thousands of vehicle impoundments, driver’s license suspensions and bankruptcies, according to ProPublica’s analysis.