It’s common for Chicago judges to dismiss tickets against drivers on the grounds that the citations contain major errors, like misidentifying the street where an alleged traffic violation occurred, because the mistakes call into question the police officer’s accuracy in providing other information on the ticket, says the Chicago Tribune. While such blunders can simply be a lucky break for the driver if no one else is involved, the consequences of police documentation errors on public safety are potentially huge when crashes occur and people are hurt or killed, experts say.
This shortcoming has been the case in Chicago for a long time, according to research that City Hall solicited, then tried to keep from the public. Flawed or incomplete accident data compromise city transportation experts’ ability to make good decisions about where to target spending for safety-related traffic fixes and install red-light cameras, the researchers in the city-commissioned study concluded. State records show that Chicago data on traffic crashes have been wildly inaccurate over the years, with deaths underreported by as much as 179 percent, while the volume of angle crashes often associated with running red lights has been inflated by one-third in a snapshot taken six years ago.