Trib Columnist Caught On Chicago’s Version Of Candid Camera

“I’m guilty,” says Eric Zorn.

The long running Chicago Tribune columnist posted the video of himself and his car posing for a red light camera ticket while rolling through a right on red.

He explains that he’s received a total of three RLC tickets in recent years. The video is the freshest one. All of course, at $100 a pop. Ouch!

While Zorn’s forthrightness about his tickets is refreshing, it’s hard not to take issue with his statement:

(Please do not disgrace yourself or insult me by claiming that you always come to a full stop a stop signs; I researched this matter a few years ago and continue to do so informally. No one — zero percent — ever comes to the mandated full, rock-back stop at a clear intersection)

Zero percent don’t? C’mon!

Sure, many, many people in Chicago roll through stop signs or a right on red. But plenty of drivers do not and do come to a full stop.

But Zorn redeems himself when he says:

And each time the mayor sniffs that the red-light and coming speed-camera programs are about safety, not revenue generation, my respect for him drops.

Amen Mr. Zorn. Amen!

Here’s his full post, “When will I ever learn?

14 Responses to Trib Columnist Caught On Chicago’s Version Of Candid Camera

  1. CL says:

    I always come to a full stop. And I’ll admit that I don’t follow other laws perfectly — for example, I often drive a few mph over the speed limit. I’ve made illegal U-Turns. But I never roll through red lights, even when turning right in a clear intersection.

  2. Bruce M says:

    They rob, they steal, they tax, they Ticket, and tow.

  3. B says:

    I not only come to a full stop, I do it while riding a bicycle too. That should sufficiently irritate him. :)

    The problem with stop signs is that they are often used incorrectly. The MUTCD forbids their use as speed control devices as I recall. Yet that’s how they are used at times. Many stop signs are used where their should be yield signs. Why? Because these things are done politically and thus by people’s feelings rather than objective engineering.

    As to right on red? I don’t turn right on red at RLC intersections. Ever. I’ve seen them false way too many times. Waiting for it to turn green is less time than I’ll have to spend getting a false ticket dismissed, provided it gets dismissed. I don’t trust RLCs or their operators so I will not deliberately enter an intersection with an RLC on a red indication even when legal.

  4. The Parking Ticket Geek says:


    Dude, what’s your background? How come you know so much about the traffic engineering and the MUCTD?

    Have I asked you this before? I apologize if I have. My memory is getting BAD. My darn kids are impairing my already limited intellectual ability.

    Thanks for the great info and input.

  5. [...] Trib Columnist Eric Zorn Gets Busted by a Red Light Camera (Expired Meter) [...]

  6. barnet says:

    B is totally correct, but if a community wants a stop sign they go through the warrant process.
    I down loaded Mr. Zorn’s red light camera video to forensically review it. The vehicle actually did stop briefly, but with the lousy quality Redflex video and trying to view it on line most people can’t see the details.
    Eric should have fought this one.. . Goodbye C-note i sent Mike a copy of the frame counter version.

  7. barnet says:

    BTW as is normal in Chicago, the yellow signal was probably short by a tenth of a second…
    If Eric had that tenth of a second of yellow his tires would have most probably been past the white stop bar making his movements legal..

  8. Juvenal says:

    You know what is fun to do? In a suburb where redspeed or safespeed runs the cameras, run a couple feet past the stop line but then come to a full stop. The law changed and that is no longer basis for a violation, but the stupid municipality has to pay the camera company a service fee under redspeed and safespeed contracts every time the camera trips and they process a potential violation — even if there is no violation….

  9. Greg says:

    Juvenal -

    Way ahead of you on that one. I do it all the time and posted about it here a couple of weeks ago…

  10. The Parking Ticket Geek says:


    I wonder how much that new law is profiting RLC companies and costing taxpayers?!?

    This question might make a good FOIA request.

  11. B says:

    Parking Ticket Geek,

    I picked it all up by reading and usenet discussion when usenet was filled with people who knew things. James Walker who posts here on occasion was one of the regulars back then too. I learned about vehicular bicycling on usenet and then in a fit of frustration with trying to stay out of way of drivers, bad sidewalks, etc in 1997 started doing it.

    By training and trade I am engineer, but my jobs have never had anything to do with traffic engineering. But I suppose it might help reading the various standards and such :)

  12. barnet says:

    The MUTCD would serve the public better if they used the word “shall” more than “should”.

  13. Peter Smith (@shmooth2) says:

    the zero people is probably incorrect, b/c the few people who do stop are usually almost rear-ended by me or others.

    the zero percent might be possible, depending on how we round.

  14. Pete says:

    It really does not matter how or if he contested the ticket. He would have been told to pay it anyway. Of course being a columnist, he might have been able to publicly ridicule the city to the point of someone cancelling the ticket but that’s about the only way it would have worked.

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