New Restrictions On Red Light Cameras Being Considered In State Senate
Bill Could End Camera Enforcement Of Right Turn On Red
Last year Illinois State Senator Dan Duffy (R-Lake Barrington) tried to kill red light camera enforcement statewide.
But Senator Duffy’s “ban the cam” bill ran into a roadblock of sorts.
Duffy’s bill ran afoul of Senate President John Cullerton, who co-opted the bill with the help of pro-RLC forces. President Cullerton actually brought in red light camera lobbyists in to help re-write the bill, watering the bill down to be nearly unrecognizable from its original intent.
In the end, the bill got passed as an “RLC reform” bill. A bill ironically, with next to no real reform in it.
But Duffy’s defeat on the issue has not deterred him as this week he tries to take on red light cameras again.
This time he’s attacking RLCs from a different angle.
A right angle.
Duffy recently introduced Senate Bill 26, a bill which would prohibit camera enforcement of right turn on red violations.
“The U.S. Department of Transportation said you can drive from here to Jupiter and back and never been in an incident turning right on red,” says Duffy. “It (right turn on red camera enforcement) has nothing to do with safety. It’s all about revenue and not about safety.”
Duffy contends that 90% of red light camera revenue comes from drivers rolling through a right turn on red (where it’s legally permitted) at just one or two miles per hour instead of coming to a complete stop.
“From the info I have over 90% of the income comes from right turn on red,” says Duffy. “They (RLC companies) will not provide a breakdown of where the revenue comes from. If these figures are wrong, prove me wrong.”
Although Duffy contends by adding this restriction to Illinois law municipalities currently using camera enforcement for right on red violations would see a dramatic drop in revenue, none of the towns we spoke to seemed bothered by SB26.
Village of Bellwood Chief of Staff Peter Tsiolis says their west suburban town only cares about their red light camera program’s impact on safety and says accidents are down at RLC enforced intersections.
“From our perspective, our empirical data shows accidents are down at those intersections,” says Tsiolis. “But if the state legislature passes that bill the Village of Bellwood would not fight the legislation, we’re interested in safety.”
Oak Lawn Village President Dave Heilmann also doesn’t to have problems with SB26.
“I don’t know if I disagree with his legislative proposal,” says Heilmann.
But what about the impact on revenue? Tsiolis says Bellwood sees about a quarter million dollars a year in RLC revenue.
“I don’t know how Duffy’s bill would impact safety,” said Tsiolis. “But from a budgetary perspective we could live without it. In some municipalities where the revenue is important this may have an impact. But if the revenue goes away tomorrow we won’t be devastated in any way.”
While anti-red light camera groups generally support Duffy’s measure, they don’t seem to hold as much enthusiasm for it compared to Duffy’s last year’s proposed anti-RLC bill that would have eliminated the cameras completely.
“The National Motorists Association opposes red-light cameras categorically, and would therefore like to see them prohibited outright,” said NMA President Gary Biller in a recent e-mail blast to Illinois members. “But a bill in Illinois prohibiting their use for right turns on red would reduce the cameras’ ‘productivity’ and therefore might pave the way for an eventual ban.”
Cook County Campaign for Liberty took on red light cameras in a series of protests held at RLC locations around Chicagoland last fall. The group’s Scott Davis seems disappointed in the bill.
“It’s not like I don’t like the idea and while it’s a good incremental move, I don’t understand why we can’t have a bill asking for a complete ban (on RLCs),” says Davis. “As activists, we don’t want to compromise.”
This week, according to Duffy, his bill will be in front of the Transportation Committee where he hopes it will get passed out to be debated and see a vote on the floor of the state Senate. At this point Duffy, thinks his chances of making it out of committee as 50/50 even with Transportation Committee Chairman Martin Sandoval a Democrat who’s also a co-sponsor of SB26.
“This is one of those crossover issues that’s not Republican or Democrat,” says the Republican Duffy of the cross party support he’s already received. “Red light cameras are a big problem for everyone.”
So Duffy is looking for some help and popular support from citizens opposed to camera enforcement of right turn on red and wants people to call and email state senators on the Transportation Committee.
“I need people to contract members of the Transportation Committee,” says Duffy. “Some people (committee members) won’t commit to me.” explains Duffy.
The Expired Meter reached out via e-mail to red light camera vendor Redflex for comment on SB26, but the company never responded.