The site FiveThirtyEight, which burrows into the stats and data of our daily lives, has a piece on how red-light cameras and tweaks to the timing of yellow lights in Chicago might affect the current mayoral race there. We've thrown a lot of 'ink' at the red-light camera issue here, because every story about their safety benefits seems to be outnumbered at least two-to-one by stories of scandal and skullduggery. Chicago has had a particularly hard time in the scandal department, with a damning three-year series of stories in the Chicago Tribune revealing "questionable enforcement practices," bribery and kickbacks, three federal indictments, and one conviction.

One of the contentious issues that pops up constantly in this situation is the shortening of yellow-light times. As other cities have done with their red-light cameras, Chicago authorities ignored both the yellow-light timing suggested by the Institute of Transportation Engineers and the 85th-percentile measure used to gauge the flow of actual traffic and set speed limits. FiveThirtyEight found that The Windy City's settings shortened the duration of yellow lights by anywhere from 0.2 to 0.9 seconds compared to three of the suggested methodologies that are in use in other cities, depending on speed. It backs up a story in the Tribune that found, "Chicago has the nation's largest red-light camera system and the shortest allowable yellow lights."

Mayor Rahm Emanuel publicly supports the cameras, that support being cited as merely one of many reasons he might not win a second term on the first try and need to go through a runoff election. The FiveThirtyEight piece was written before the voting, and it turns out Emanual did not get enough votes, so a runoff with Cook County Commissioner Jesus "Chuy" Garcia will happen April 7. It's the first time in the 20 years that mayoral elections have had this format that the incumbent has needed a runoff election. Emanuel has "pledged to rev up campaigning immediately." Maybe he should just lengthen the yellow lights.

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