Category Archives: Suburban Ticket News

Suburbs Starting City Sticker Crackdowns

Thought Chicago was tough on city sticker enforcement?

Think again.

Because some suburban towns are starting to crack down on their local drivers who blow off buying a city sticker using a state of Illinois database to nail drivers.

The Chicago Tribune is reporting about six dozen Illinois municipalities have purchased database info from the Illinois Secretary of State which allows them to see what vehicles are registered in their town and then cross check it against which owners haven’t purchased their city stickers.

Many Suburban Towns Moving Toward Opting Out Of Cook County RLC Program

8 Suburban Villages On Record Opposing County Cameras

The wheels are in motion.

Already eight suburban municipalities are moving toward opting out of Cook County’s proposed red light camera program.

Less than a week after the Cook County board voted to allow municipalities the option to keep county red light cameras out of their town, Buffalo Grove and reportedly Schaumburg, Arlington Heights, Wheeling, Wilmette, Northbrook, Glenview and Deerfield are making all the signs each town will opt out.

Just these towns account for nearly half of the originally proposed 30 possible intersection locations, with 14 intersections within these eight towns.

This comes less than a week after the county board backpedaled a bit on moving forward with their red light camera program, after commissioners started getting angry reaction to the program from many of the municipalities where 20 cameras were planned to be erected.

Suburbs Begin Revolt Against Cook County’s Red Light Camera Program

Schaumburg Passes RLC Ban Tuesday Night

Stay the hell out!

That’s what an increasing number of infuriated suburban municipalities are saying to the Cook County Board’s plan to install red light cameras in their towns last week.

Just days after the board voted 10-3 to approve contracts for two vendors to begin installing cameras at 30 intersections on county roads scattered all over suburban Cook County, more and more and municipalities are pushing back.

Tuesday evening, the Schaumburg Village Board voted  unanimously to pass an ordinance prohibiting the country from erecting RLC cameras within their city limits without the town’s consent.

“We had a good relationship with the Cook County Highway Department,” explained Schaumburg trustee George Dunham. “But this thing came out of left field. It was a surprise.”

Parking Ticket Amnesty Working In NW Suburbs

Ticket amnesty works.

According to the Chicago Tribune, the concept is working very well in many northwest suburbs.

While Chicago has no imminent plans for a parking ticket amnesty in the city proper, Elk Grove Village, Arlington Heights, Crystal Lake, Palatine and Schaumburg have all used amnesty programs to recover substantial amounts of  lingering ticket revenue.

Of course, in all cases, it didn’t result in the recovery of all outstanding ticket debt, but seemingly resulted in much needed infusions of money into these cash strapped towns.

Cicero Enlists Town Trustees To Write Parking Tickets

Here’s a unique way to write more parking tickets: give your trustees their very own ticket book.

According to the Chicago Tribune, that’s just what Cicero has decided to do beginning April 2nd after putting their seven trustees through a short training course on how to write parking tickets.

Rolling Meadows Red Light Cameras One Year Later

Daily Herald newspaper columnist Colleen Thomas takes a hard look at the first year of red light cameras in suburban Rolling Meadows.

According to the stats presented by Thomas, Rolling Meadows is the place to be if you accidentally blow through a red light camera. Allegedly, of the 50,000 violations captured on camera at one intersection, only 32 resulted in actual tickets.

That’s basically, 0% enforcement. My question would be: what’s the point of the red light cameras if virtually no one ever gets a ticket?

A snapshot of Meadows’ red light cameras, a year later

By Colleen Thomas

About a year ago, Rolling Meadows police installed the city’s first “red light” camera as a boost to traffic enforcement. Since then the cameras have been in the news as other towns consider adding them.

I checked in with Deputy Police Chief Dave Scanlan to find out how the program is working for Rolling Meadows. But first, a little background.

The cameras record drivers who run a red light or fail to stop before turning right. Police review the videos and determine whether to send a $100 ticket by mail to the car’s owner.

The images are collected by Lombard-based RedSpeed Illinois, which reviews thousands of potential violations captured by the cameras to determine whether to send them along to the city. Rolling Meadows police don’t want to see all of them; they’ve given RedSpeed parameters on which videos to pass along. From there, officers review them and decide whether to issue the citation.

Typically, police see only 10 percent of the possible violations, and they take a “liberal approach” in determining who gets tickets, according to Scanlan. For instance, at Algonquin Road and Route 53, about 50,000 violations were captured during one period last year, and of those, 32 resulted in tickets.

“We’ll take a stop anywhere,” he says. “We don’t want to see cars that have tripped the sensor or stopped over the white line. All we want are clear-through violations.”

Scanlan showed me on his laptop how police review each case. I watched a few drivers rolling at a good clip through a red light while turning right.

Ticketed drivers can request a hearing, where they can review their video and make a defense. Scanlan told of one particular offender had been at hearings for three or four violations. “We told her, next time you do this, just stick your hand out and wave to us,” he says.

Whether you agree or disagree on the concept, red-light cameras are probably here to stay. The cameras have been challenged in court in several states with mixed results, but just last month a federal court upheld the use of cameras as a source of revenue in Chicago. Suburban residents also have complained the program is about raising cash for towns.

Scanlan bristles at that idea, asserting that the cameras are there to change behavior. “It’s a tool police use to increase safety for drivers,” he says. “If they think someone is watching, they’re much more compliant.”

Rolling Meadows uses the ticket money to pay the program’s costs. A portion pays RedSpeed’s service fees, but the city has its own expenses – costs associated with officers reviewing the videos, hearings, paperwork and the city attorney that are difficult to measure, Scanlan says.

“I’m not sure anyone has determined the ancillary costs to staff this. Yes, it’s a revenue producing endeavor, but it is not a for-profit endeavor,” he says.

“As the program grows, so do the resources we have to throw into the program,” he adds.

Cameras are in place at Route 53 and Algonquin Road, Euclid Avenue and Hicks Road, Algonquin and New Wilke Road; two are at Kirchoff and Rohlwing roads. A second camera at Algonquin and Route 53 is going up soon.

Scanlan isn’t ready to call the program a success, since it’s difficult to measure with only one year of data. More time is needed to determine if crashes have been reduced. One thing Scanlan does point out, however, is there have been no rear-enders at the intersections – something often believed to be a downside to red-light cameras.

Overall, Scanlan is pleased with red-light cameras and aims to have a dozen in place in the next couple of years. He sees another bonus: Since they are recording all the time, they can photograph criminals in getaway cars, the same way a surveillance camera at a bank would be used.

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back For Berwyn Red Light Program

It seems west suburban Berwyn is losing one red light camera , but gaining two new ones, according to Berwyn Life newspaper.

The Berwyn City Council voted to remove the single red light from the intersection of 26th St., and East Ave., and moving it, along with a new red light camera to Cermak & Harlem Avenue.

Berwyn steps up red-light enforcement

By Danya Hooker

Drivers traveling on 26th Street soon will no longer have to worry about being caught by the red-light camera monitoring the East Avenue intersection.

But two new cameras are on the way.

At their Jan. 23 meeting, Berwyn aldermen approved a measure to remove the camera from 26th Street and East Avenue. The City Council also voted to begin the process of seeking state approval to add two cameras at Cermak Road and Harlem Avenue. The camera from 26th Street will be moved to Cermak Road and Harlem Avenue.

Sixth Ward Alderman Michael Phelan cast the lone no vote. Phelan has voted down all red-light camera proposals, contending they constitute a violation of personal privacy.

Mayor Michael O’Connor said the camera on 26th Street is being moved because fewer people were running the light or making illegal right turns. Violations at the intersection were down about 75 percent at the intersection, according city attorney Anthony Bertuca.

“I think what happened is that the residents learned their lesson about safety really quick,” O’Connor said. “So, it served its purpose — people are stopping.”

The camera will be moved to monitor drivers traveling west on Cermak Road at the Harlem Avenue intersection. A camera watching northbound Harlem Avenue traffic at the intersection will be added afterward.

The city’s first red-light cameras, on 26th Street and at Ridgeland Avenue and Cermak Road, went live in November 2007. Two cameras at Ogden and Harlem avenues monitoring northbound Harlem Avenue traffic and westbound Ogden Avenue traffic, followed in August 2008.

The cameras are operated by Lombard-based RedSpeed. The city receives a percentage of each violation after paying a flat fee to lease the cameras. But revenues have not kept pace with expectations.

“We thought we were going to get more than what we’re getting,” 2nd Ward Alderman Santiago “Jim” Ramos said.

The city is expected to receive about $165,000 in revenue from 2008 violations. With the new cameras, the city budgeted $325,000 in revenue for the 2009 budget.

O’Connor said he expects the new cameras will increase revenue because Harlem and Cermak roads are a main thoroughfare for out-of-town drivers, who might be less familiar with the cameras.

Although the cameras provide some much-needed revenue for the city, the main goal always has been to reduce traffic accidents, O’Connor said. Traffic accidents at 26th Street and East Avenue decreased significantly since the camera was installed.

“We might just leave the signs up that red-light photo is enforced,” O’Connor joked.

Des Plaines Red Light Cameras Delayed

It seems that the Des Plaines‘ city council cannot agree on a vendor for their red light camera program.

According to the Daily Herald, while Red Speed was the vendor recommended by the chief of police, it seems that Red Speed’s proposal is the worst deal for the city as far as revenue.

But of course, red light cameras are not about revenue, but for improving safety, right?!?

The red light program was approved in April of 2008 and the suburban town is considering 19 locations for red light cameras.

Des Plaines holds off on traffic cams

By Madhu Krishnamurthy

With lingering questions about projected revenues and risk, the Des Plaines city council Tuesday night delayed selecting a vendor for the city’s automated red-light camera enforcement program.

The council had authorized the program itself in April 2008 by ordinance. Staff came back with proposals from various vendors Tuesday.

Des Plaines Police Chief Jim Prandini recommended the council choose RedSpeed Illinois from among four vendors who submitted bids because it’s a local company and the police department would not have to administer the program under its proposal.

Though not the most experienced, the Lombard-based company serves 51 communities in Illinois, which is significantly higher than any other vendor, Prandini said.

“We felt that RedSpeed offered the most comprehensive service,” he said.

Yet, RedSpeed’s proposal projected the least amount of net revenues for Des Plaines. The company’s take is 35 percent of every $100 ticket issued, not including other fees it charges for each step of the process.

RedSpeed projects one camera would generate 300 tickets per month with only 50 percent of citations being paid on the first notice. Of the projected $15,000 in monthly fines collected, Des Plaines would get $4,501 when all of RedSpeed’s costs are deducted.

Alderman Carla Brookman questioned why the city should pick RedSpeed over other vendors who were promising more than $9,000 in net revenues for the city.

“I’m uncomfortable trying to generate revenue from this type of ordinance where the lion’s share is going to the vendor at the expense of taxpayers,” Brookman said.

Alderman Mark Walsten asked Prandini how the city would address cameras nabbing motorists making right turns at a red light, a problem that recently spurred public outcry in Schaumburg.

More than 10,000 tickets were issued over 75 days at the intersection of Woodfield and Meacham roads in that town generating nearly $1 million in fines for illegal right turns on red. Sensitivity to public outrage prompted village officials to replace the right-turn red-light camera with right-turn green arrow signals.

Prandini said that shouldn’t be a problem in Des Plaines.

“We’re looking at the traffic safety angle of this and each intersection is going to be reviewed,” Prandini said. “We don’t want to see tickets if somebody made a complete stop. We set those parameters on the front end.”

Des Plaines will be studying whether cameras would help at 19 of the city’s top accident intersections for 2008, as well as the Cumberland Circle roundabout.

Prandini said RedSpeed was widely favored by area municipalities that currently use its service, such as Prospect Heights, Wheeling, Schaumburg and Rosemont. He said the biggest plus is that the company would reduce the police department’s workload.

“The only thing we have to do with RedSpeed is review the citations that they will be sending us every day,” he said. “All of the other companies, the staff time that it would cost us to implement this program would be prohibitive for us.”

Regardless of the vendor, cameras would be installed at no cost to the city once feasibility studies are conducted at targeted intersections.

Schaumburg Turns Off Red Light Camera

Suburban Schaumburg has decided to turn off the red light camera that generated nearly $1 million in fines over the last 75 days.

According to the Daily Herald, it seems that nearly 1% of all traffic that made a right on red at the intersection of Meachum & Woodfield Rd., was caught on camera not making a complete stop.

So, in order to improve things there, the town will install a green light arrow at the intersection. The red light cameras monitoring drivers running the red light at that intersection, will remain in place and operational.

Red light camera raises red flag in Schaumburg

By Eric Peterson

Schaumburg’s public safety committee Thursday endorsed a staff recommendation to keep a red light camera turned off that generated nearly $1 million in fines for illegal right turns on red over 75 days.

Instead, the village will install right-turn green arrow signals at the problematic intersection of Woodfield and Meacham roads.

What will remain, however, are cameras to spot drivers who proceed straight through the intersection on a red light.

Village officials said they were stunned that nearly 1 percent of all drivers who went through the intersection from mid-November to early February received a ticket.

More than 10,000 tickets were issued at $100 each. About 98 percent of these were for turning right on red without coming to a full stop.

“We are all to some degree astounded at the number of people who don’t seem to get it,” said committee Chairman George Dunham.

Nevertheless, officials say the camera was never intended as a major revenue generator and they believe the necessary reminder of the rules of the road has been sufficiently provided.

From December to January, traffic on northbound Meacham declined 6.68 percent while violations declined 29.3 percent. During the same time, traffic on westbound Woodfield Road declined 8.33 percent and violations declined 26.3 percent.

The village reported that about 50 negative phone calls, letters or e-mails were received and 380 drivers requested an adjudication hearing. But 74 percent of the tickets were paid by last week, when the right-turn cameras were turned off.

Crashes during the enforcement period dropped to seven from 10 during the same time period the year before. Only two crashes during the enforcement period were from turning right on red, while five were the year before.

Schaumburg resident Bob Garrett questioned whether a reduction of three crashes was worth $1 million in revenue.

The village expects to pay the $10,000 cost of the right-turn green arrow signals out of the cameras’ fine revenues.

Palatine resident Rich Gylling said he thought the arrow signals were an appropriate measure at what he considered an especially confusing right turn.

Ticket Tidbits: 2/11/09

Each week, The Expired Meter offers up a potpourri of ticket and parking related news to keep you up informed and up to date.

ITEM: In the past, I’ve never seen a boot issued on a Saturday or Sunday. From a booted vehicle I saw the other day, that may be changing. I witnessed a freshly booted vehicle with a bright orange sticker that dated it Saturday morning. Watch out!

ITEM: Last week, the city council approved Ald. Vi Daley’s move to increase the fine for talking on your cell phone will driving from $75 to $100. Don’t be surprised to see more of these cell phone tickets issued this year.

ITEM: No official word, but it looks like the parking meter lease deal is STILL not finalized. It was supposed to close this week. Thanks goes out to all you lawyers finalizing the deal. Keep up the great work.

ITEM: There’s a new booter in town. For over 10 years, Global Parking Management was the one and only private booting firm in town. According to a reliable source, a new company called Parking Management Services, plans to jump into the booting business sometime in March. I’m told the company management has 25 years of experience and comes “with massive insight into the local parking industry.”

ITEM: Speaking of private booting, negotiations between Global Parking Management and Ald. Waguespack’s office have been ongoing and are close to a final agreement on terms to allow Global to continue to work within the 32nd Ward, according to a source within the 32nd Ward office. We’ll have the full story when the deal is complete.

ITEM: Facebook user John Stamoolis is pissed. He’s angry that Mayor Daley is selling off the city’s assets, which of course, includes the parking meter system. If you agree with him, join his Stop Mayor Daley From Selling Chicago Facebook page.

ITEM: If you live in Wheeling, and want to know more about this suburb’s red light cameras, stop by Wheeling Village Hall, 255 W. Dundee Rd. at 7:30 PM or on Wednesday, February 25th.

The town’s first cameras will be at the intersections of Palatine and Wheeling, and Milwaukee and Dundee.

For more info, call (847) 459-2649.

QUESTION: Who is James Damion?  I’m trying to find out. If you have info, e-mail me at: tips@theexpiredmeter.com

ITEM: Perhaps Chicago needs some schooling on what a real ticket amnesty looks like. Ciciero has some a kickass ticket amnesty deal for scofflaws offering a 50% reduction on tickets of $100 or over and reducing payments on other tickets including paying only $30 for a $75 ticket, $20 for a $50 ticket and $10 for a $25 ticket.

Now THAT’s what I call amnesty.

The program started Feb. 1 and will run three months.

REMINDER: Only four days left until Chicago’s Ticket Amnesty program is over. Try to pay it on-line as DOR payment centers are being overrun by procrastinator scofflaws like me and you.

In fact, several DOR Payment Centers are offering special Saturday hours on Feb. 14th to gladly take your money.

GEEK NEWS: Tune into Vocalo on Thursday afternoon around 2 PM. The Parking Ticket Geek stops in to the Vocalo studios to discuss all things parking. Vocalo airs on 89.5 FM serving NW Indiana and SE Chicago, but you can stream it live here.

Then, Friday evening at 6 PM, the Geek joins our friends Mike Stephen & Andy Hermann on Outside The Loop Radio on WLUW 88.7 FM.