Tag Archives: Chicago red light cameras
Village officials in west suburban Western Springs say crashes are down at two intersections where red light cameras were installed back in 2009 according to The Doings newspaper.
Crashes dropped at the intersection of Ogden and Wolf Road from an average of 23 in the three years before 2009, to 11 per year since May 2009.
At the village’s other RLC located at 55th and Wolf Road, crashes dropped from seven before the cameras to four in 2009 and just one in 2010, after cameras were installed.
The Illinois Department of Transportation has not released 2011 crash data.
One thing the story and village officials ignored in their analysis is that IDOT changed the way crashes are documented back in 2009–the year the cameras were installed in Western Springs.
One irate woman driver reported to the Chicago Tribune’s Problem Solver column that she was issued a red light camera ticket in Hillside even though she was in a funeral procession.
She allegedly fought the RLC ticket and lost, with the hearing officer upholding the violation. That’s despite the fact being part of a funeral procession is one of the very few circumstances that can be raised as a legitimate legal defense for a red light camera violation. The driver even brought documentation to prove her case.
After complaining to the Problem Solver column, writer Jon Yates contacted Hilliside. The back pedaling by Hillside was furious and fast with village officials claiming they had offered to clear up the situation when the driver complained to them immediately after the original hearing date.
RLC Lawsuits Have Poor Record Of Success In Illinois
Mere minutes before the City Council was posed to vote and pass an ordinance which will eventually make Chicago the speed camera capital of the U.S., a lawyer for Simmons Law Firm was filing a class action lawsuit in the Circuit Court of Cook County attacking the legality of the city’s red light camera program.
This lawsuit, as reported in the Chicago Sun-Times, contends that Chicago did not have legal authority to issue red light camera tickets back in 2003 when the city initiated its RLC program.
It was only after 2006, when the Illinois General Assembly passed its red light camera law that would have allowed Chicago to issue these type of violations according to the complaint. The lawsuit asks to recover the $90 fines (now $100) allegedly unlawfully levied against hundreds of thousands of drivers between 2003 and 2006. A successful case could potentially cost the Chicago tens of millions of dollars in refunds.
But this recent lawsuit is not the first salvo in class action taken against Chicago’s red light cameras and not the first case challenging the legal basis for the law.
The original and similar lawsuit was filed on July 2, 2010 on behalf of Elizabeth M. Keating and Paul W. Ketz against the City of Chicago as well as red light camera companies Redflex Traffic Systems and Redspeed Illinois LLC.
However, that lawsuit was dismissed by Cook County Circuit Court Judge Michael Hyman on a motion by the City of Chicago the beginning of August, 2011. But Simmons promptly filed an appeal with the Illinois Appellate Court on August 31, 2011.
The Expired Meters Highlight Curious Numbers On Traffic Safety
Monday, the Committee on Pedestrian and Traffic Safety released data from the Chicago Department of Transportation to aldermen who had requested the information during last Wednesday’s hearings on the pending speed camera ordinance.
The reports were released late Monday afternoon, giving city council members just over a single day to pour over the information before a potential vote on the speed camera ordinance when the full Chicago City Council meets Wednesday morning.
This information was “shared” with The Expired Meter, so as a public service, this site will post the entire report and share some of the more interesting numbers to gain some insight into what is shaping up to be a divisive policy.
Hide & Seek With Numbers
“There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics,” 19th-century British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli famously said.
An apt expression to be sure when it comes to Chicago pedestrian crash data.
The Committee on Pedestrian and Traffic Safety, will convene at 1 PM in City Council Chambers at City Hall next Wednesday to discuss the divisive law Mayor Rahm Emanuel has been pushing, which could have as many as 360 city intersections issuing $50 and $100 tickets for exceeding the speed limit.
The originally scheduled meeting was postponed to allow committee members to gauge constituent sentiment before meeting on the issue according to a Tribune story.
Total Crashes Unchanged In Before & After Study
This has been the question since red light cameras were first introduced to Chicago intersections under the auspices of improving traffic safety back in 2003.
And now, with City Hall trying to use the claims of safety improvements from Chicago’s red light camera system to rationalize adding speed enforcement to city streets, understanding RLC effectiveness may play into the debate.
The city has always contended its RLC enforcement program has been an overwhelming success and touted its safety benefits to sell the public on the idea of building an equally expansive speed camera system here.
Critics, many of them victims of the $100 camera fines, believe red light cameras are about revenue and not safety.
But a study conducted by the Chicago Department of Transportation on the effectiveness of the city’s red light camera program seems to undermine the city’s own position on the safety benefits of the RLC enforcement.
The study obtained from CDOT through a Freedom of Information request by The Expired Meter, seems to show either amazing safety gains, or mixed results or at worst, safety declines depending on who you listen to.
CDOT did a study of 96 intersections utilizing RLC enforcement and compared crash data for each intersection for two years before the cameras were installed with crash data for the two years after installation.
It’s just an 800 lb. gorilla of a coincidence, so of course Mayor Emanuel will tell you there’s nothing to see here.
But, it turns out one of Mayor Emanuel’s biggest and longest political supporters stands to profit handsomely if Chicago’s speed camera program comes to fruition according to an excellent Chicago Tribune story published Tuesday.
CBS 2 weighs in on the “One Second for Safety” bill to extend yellow light times at red light camera intersections in Illinois, and interviews Sen. Dan Duffy, the bill’s sponsor.
Here’s CBS 2′s full report, “Lawmaker Wants Longer Yellow Lights At ‘Photo Enforced’ Intersections.”
The Chicago Tribune is reporting the gory details regarding the tremendous loss of revenue the Village of Northfield is facing because of a red light camera taken out of commission due to a construction project.
The RLC was at the intersection of Waukegan and Willow Roads in Northfield and it took in about $550,000 when it was still shooting pictures of drivers unfortunate enough to roll through a right turn on red there the year before.
But, the gravy stopped–when the State of Illinois told Northfield this past July it had to put the camera out of commission until the construction project ended–which was just recently.
CBS 2 investigative reporter Pam Zekman had a report on red light cameras Monday night.
Honestly, Zekman piece is pretty vacuous, with little new information. It’s essentially interviews with drivers who dislike the red light cameras and some revenue numbers from the city and other town’s top performing RLC intersections.
Perhaps the highlight of the piece was her short interview with Prof. Rajiv Shah who’s research (first reported here) which seems to show that RLC in Chicago doesn’t seem to have any effect on reducing crashes.
Read CBS 2′s full story, “2 Investigators: The Red-Light Cameras That Generate The Most Tickets.”