Red-Light Solutions

Photo by sylvar / CC BY 2.0
Senator Dany Duffy’s bill to put an end to red-light cameras has hit a snag — Illinois legislator’s not ready to do an outright ban on them as reported recently in the Daily Herald. It’s disappointing there’s not enough support for a total ban but I don’t think that should discourage opponents of the cameras or Senator Duffy. It’s clear some compromise legislation is needed. Hopefully that legislation would effectively curtail their current use and abuse — milking taxpayer dollars via unwitting municipalities.

I believe a compromise could be reached that would sound their death knell. It starts with making it much more difficult for them to be approved and thus less enticing to the companies that are selling them. The first solution would require a referendum in order for the municipality to deploy them. If they are that concerned about the public safety, let the public decide if they should be used. I think you would quickly find out who is truly in it for public safety and who is turning to fines to replenish depleted municipal coffers.

If there’s not enough support in Springfield for that, and that would be unfortunate, there are still requirements that could be put in place to deter their abuse:

- Require the municipality to submit a statement of need to IDOT in order to gain approval. There needs to be a certain number of accidents in the previous year at the intersection to demonstrate need.
- Part of the statement of need will include an independent safety study paid for by the municipality showing a need for red-light enforcement at that intersection. - The study should review whether the current traffic signals are adequate for the intersection and if the problem couldn’t be better solved by traffic signal or intersection improvements. - IDOT will be able to levy a fee for this process so it will make it cost prohibitive to do this recklessly. Also sending them through IDOT is going to slow these programs down and give the public an opportunity to weigh in. - The municipality needs to announce and hold a public hearing on the use of the cameras at which they must fully disclose the funding and fees for the cameras.

Aside from the requirements needed to install them their use also needs to be addressed:

- All alleged violations need to be reviewed by a sworn police officer who will issue the citation. Municipalities are not allowed to turn this over to a contractor.
- Right on red citations are not allowed unless it is clearly demonstrated the driver failed to yield, the intersection prohibits right on red or the vehicle is prohibited from right on red. - Vehicles that clearly entered the intersection on a green light or yellow light are not allowed to be cited, they are allowed to clear the intersection, that’s the law. - Any citation related to “running a yellow” requires a camera equipped with radar to determine what the speed of the vehicle was that committed the violation. - Signs indicating a monitored intersection need to be posted 500 ft before the intersection in all directions. - The cameras should not be painted yellow, they will blend in with other traffic devices, they should be painted RED.

Finally, provisions on cameras already in place need to be addressed. While they couldn’t follow all of this process they could follow part of it.

You need to make a difference and speak your mind on this. Don’t just email your legislator or senator, call him or her. Send the message to Springfield that something needs to be done about the abuse of these cameras and they should support Senator Duffy’s effort to do so.