Buffalo Grove Says ‘Stop’ To Red Light Cameras
It was nearly 11 PM when Chief of Police Steve Balinski walked up to the podium in front of the Buffalo Grove Village Board.
He dutifully gave his report of his department’s support for a red light camera enforcement program in the north western suburb, and then introduced two representatives of Gatso USA, the preferred potential supplier for the town for red light cameras.
Paul Bazzano, Vice-President of Sales and Rich Kosina, Chief Technology Officer for Gatso USA, gave their very slick presentation extolling the benefits of their enforcement cameras. They talked about their company’s 51 years in business and the 47,000 cameras installed in 60 different countries. They ticked off other Illinois communities like lake Zurich, Streamwood, Hanover Park and Libertyville that have successfully implemented their cameras.
But, after two long years of studies, presentations and work to get to this evening, and after 15 minutes of presentation, it took just about five minutes before it was evident all that effort was for naught.
Red light cameras were not coming to Buffalo Grove.
“You haven’t proved to me at this point it’s necessary,” said Trustee Jeffrey Braiman directly to the representatives of Gatso USA. “It (crash statistics) show red light accidents went down without the cameras.”
Braiman, was strongly critical of Gatso USA’s report of the red light running data collected at 10 intersections over eight hours in a sample day. According to the survey conducted by Regina Webster and Associates, a Chicago-based traffic engineering firm, 1633 red light violations were observed during the period in question. The firm did not use video recording to document the violations, but instead relied upon old fashioned observation.
“I’m surprised at the number of violations,” said Braiman. “To me that’s astronomical.”
Trustee Jeffrey Berman was even more skeptical of the data, and openly questioned whether right turn on red violations were included in the survey.
“The data presented does not convince me,” said Berman. “The data I’ve seen is almost counter intuitive (based on local crash data). I don’t know the data proves that the conclusion to move forward makes sense. I’m not inclined to pursue it any further.”
Trustee Beverly Sussman had concerns that pending legislation in Springfield would make any current red light camera programs moot, if bills like SB 2466 introduced by Senator Dan Duffy (R-Lake Barrington) which ban all red light cameras get passed.
“I’m not in favor,” Sussman said, adding to the inertia. “It would be very detrimental to vote on going any further. At this time I don’t think red light cameras are the way to go.”
The final nail in the coffin of red light cameras in Buffalo Grove was when acting chair Braiman read a strongly worded e-mail against the red light cameras from absent Village President Elliot Harstein.
“We’re not going forward,” said Braiman finishing the trustees thoughts on the matter.
Village resident, and red light camera expert and activist Barnet Fagel, who had patiently sat through hours of the board meeting, despite the impending defeat of the RLC program, asked if he could still show his video presentation just to put the icing on the cake.
Unfortunately, his DVD wouldn’t work in the village DVD player, which led to a moment of levity. Fagel then gave a few minute oral presentation hammering home his message that red light cameras have no impact on traffic safety.
Fagel finished his short talk by saying to the trustees, “Thank you for making a great decision.”
“I think this is a better question for the board,” said Gatso USA’s Bazzano, when asked if the company was disappointed in the the board’s decision. “Our goal is to study the data and make the correct assessment.”
“The village had concerns with Cook County and the state legislators,” explained Kosina.