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The redlight cam issue needs to be addressed ASAP

Tuesday, Oct 22, 2019

* I’m not certain I follow this argument. Which specific freedoms are being encroached upon by a camera that is programmed to snap a pic of your car if you run a red light?

Illinois state Rep. Darren Bailey (R-Louisville) argues that the use of red-light cameras to enforce speeding and other driving infractions sends the wrong message to the public.

“They need to go because they’re the epitome of a police state,” Bailey told the SE Illinois News. “If you gotta have law enforcement from cameras, there’s a real problem. Think about it, if you have an officer out there doing the job, he’s doing much more than just standing around to write tickets. By sticking a red-light camera someplace, it’s our freedoms that are being encroached upon.”

But this is a good point

Chicago has 309 red-light cameras spread out across the city, compared to an average of just under 69 in New York, Philadelphia and Phoenix, the three cities with the next highest amount of cameras.

“All that money with no accountability for it just breeds a culture of corruption,” Bailey said. “With this system, you’ve got the ability to choose who and what company you’re going to work with and no one knows nothing about that process.” […]

“It seems there’s very little oversight,” he said.

Yep. Their business model involves recruiting politically connected sales persons to convince mayors to install cameras and then those sales persons make a commission every time the cams ding a motorist.

I mean, what could possibly go wrong?

- Posted by Rich Miller        

43 Comments
  1. - DarkDante - Tuesday, Oct 22, 19 @ 10:23 am:

    I believe that the cameras in the city bring in about $95M per year. While this is a significant chunk of change for a city already staring down a $838M deficit, I am of the opinion that most Chicagoans would rather see a bit extra on their property tax bill to compensate for lost red light camera revenue. I think the large, unexpected hit of a red light ticket is far more despised than the regular flow of a few extra dollars on a property tax bill.


  2. - Ron Burgundy - Tuesday, Oct 22, 19 @ 10:26 am:

    I think there is widespread skepticism out there regarding the use of these cameras, largely because of how they are marketed and implemented, and because they are viewed as being more about revenue generation than safety. Paying vendors by the ticket is potentially ripe for corruption. Go to a flat fee. What’s the guarantee they aren’t putting their thumb on the scale to generate more tickets?


  3. - Name Withheld - Tuesday, Oct 22, 19 @ 10:30 am:

    I don’t necessarily have a Rights issue with it as such - you’re driving on a public road at a public intersection. What I do have an issue with is the widespread use of these as revenue generators, when combined with variable traffic light times (changing from green-to-yellow-to-red). You take a traffic light timing and set it for 1-second delay between transitions - and you’ve got very little time to go from motion to full stop when the light goes to yellow and then red.

    I think cameras should be used like in sports, where they are a secondary means to review the situation when something occurs, but they should not be the primary means of enforcement. But that’s me.


  4. - Big Joe - Tuesday, Oct 22, 19 @ 10:34 am:

    I’m a bit confused on this issue. If you follow the rules of the road, and come to a complete stop before turning right on a red light, as you should, do you still get a ticket? I follow the rules and stop before I turn right on red. I have never received a violation ticket.


  5. - Steve - Tuesday, Oct 22, 19 @ 10:36 am:

    With the right U.S. Supreme Court they might be willing to strike down red light cameras on 4th Amendment grounds because you don’t have a police officer there giving you the ticket.


  6. - Joe Bidenopolous - Tuesday, Oct 22, 19 @ 10:38 am:

    ==If you follow the rules of the road, and come to a complete stop before turning right on a red light, as you should, do you still get a ticket?==

    When the city first started using them, for several years there were intersections where you’d get flagged even after stopping and others where the yellow light was on for less than the required 3 seconds. That resulted in a financial settlement with those affected - we got refunds for three tickets at one of the offending intersections.

    I’m curious - do the same folks operate the speed cameras and/or is that the same business model of paying commissions to the “sales” consultants? If so, that should be looked at too.


  7. - Chicagonk - Tuesday, Oct 22, 19 @ 10:42 am:

    If Safespeed was the first bad actor, I would say that let’s not get reactionary. But this happened before with Redflex and that led to federal convictions. Fool me once…


  8. - Let me out - Tuesday, Oct 22, 19 @ 10:46 am:

    John Bills is serving a 14 year prison sentence for red light camera corruption and now others being investigated. Time to end the madness.


  9. - en absentia - Tuesday, Oct 22, 19 @ 10:52 am:

    Red light cameras were completely outlawed in Texas this past session. There were way too many shenanigans….


  10. - South Side Sam - Tuesday, Oct 22, 19 @ 10:52 am:

    He must be talking about the right to run a red light and earn a ticket.
    Still beats having an officer write a ticket for a moving violation for……Running a RED light.
    Guess we should disregard the advantage for accident reconstruction investigations and the criminals that have been ID’d leaving the scene.


  11. - BC - Tuesday, Oct 22, 19 @ 10:53 am:

    I’m guessing the feds are focused on a particular paragraph from the state’s automated traffic enforcement statute. Seems like they could build a prosecution around this:

    “ (l) The compensation paid for an automated traffic law enforcement system must be based on the value of the equipment or the services provided and may not be based on the number of traffic citations issued or the revenue generated by the system. “

    Now, I’m sure a defense attorney would argue that language applies to the financial arrangement between the municipality and the contractor and not the arrangement between the contractor and a “salesman,” but we’ve seen folks indicted over less.


  12. - The Way I See It - Tuesday, Oct 22, 19 @ 10:53 am:

    Here’s what I don’t get: private, for-profit prisons are repugnant, but for-profit law enforcement is okey-dokey?


  13. - TinyDancer(FKASue) - Tuesday, Oct 22, 19 @ 11:05 am:

    My beef is with the disparate timing of the yellow lights.
    You never know if you have time to make it through the intersection or whether you have to slam on your brakes.
    Pick a window of time and make it uniform throughout the state.


  14. - Former Candidate on the Ballot - Tuesday, Oct 22, 19 @ 11:14 am:

    Maybe a Hypothetical scenario -

    Elected official “Helps” get Red Light equipment at an intersection

    Elected official “Supports” spouse to open their own business

    Spouses business begins to “Consult” for company that places equipment

    This model can be applied to a wide variety of situation. There needs to be an improvement in the enforcement of the Statement of Economic Interest forms completed by each elected official as well


  15. - A Jack - Tuesday, Oct 22, 19 @ 11:15 am:

    I haven’t had a red light ticket, mainly because I avoid towns that have them because I simply don’t trust the cameras.

    If you do take one of these tickets to trial as is your Constitutional right, who is your accuser, a camera? Or possibly an expert from a corrupt red light camera company?


  16. - Nitemayor - Tuesday, Oct 22, 19 @ 11:17 am:

    I’m thinking it’s time to change the state motto to: “What could possibly go wrong?”


  17. - Rabid - Tuesday, Oct 22, 19 @ 11:19 am:

    Longer yellows, leased or rented space that can be revoked


  18. - Powdered Whig - Tuesday, Oct 22, 19 @ 11:19 am:

    === With the right U.S. Supreme Court they might be willing to strike down red light cameras on 4th Amendment grounds because you don’t have a police officer there giving you the ticket. ===

    That’s nonsense. What 4th Amendment right is violated? People have no expectation of privacy in driving on a public road.


  19. - Been There - Tuesday, Oct 22, 19 @ 11:19 am:

    === Pick a window of time and make it uniform throughout the state.===
    Off topic but related. The countdown walk lights should also be uniform throughout the state. When a walk light counts down to zero in Chicago means the light turns yellow. In Springfield that is when the light turns red.


  20. - Powdered Whig - Tuesday, Oct 22, 19 @ 11:21 am:

    === If you do take one of these tickets to trial as is your Constitutional right, who is your accuser, a camera? ===

    These are generally adjudicated administratively. There isn’t a trial.


  21. - Bogey Golfer - Tuesday, Oct 22, 19 @ 11:22 am:

    In the burbs, it’s when there is a protected left-turn only movement and drivers enter the intersection on the yellow. And yes I was guilty once.


  22. - Powdered Whig - Tuesday, Oct 22, 19 @ 11:22 am:

    I don’t have any issues with red-light cameras in concept. When yellow-light timing is being manipulated to create more violations, that is a major problem.


  23. - DuPage - Tuesday, Oct 22, 19 @ 11:23 am:

    If they are going to have the red light cams, they should have an extended yellow and a countdown light showing 4-3-2-1. I read somewhere that some yellows have been shortened in order to increase revenue.
    I would also recommend strict control over the revenue, no more kickback commissions or red light companies being paid extra on a per ticket basis. All revenue over cost should be required to be put into fire and police pension funds. If the red light camera is on an intersection with a state highway (rt.64 North Av. for example), then half of the revenue should go to the state pension funds. Put an end to this money going into municipal slush funds.


  24. - ChicagoVinny - Tuesday, Oct 22, 19 @ 11:45 am:

    Given the corruption potential, the regressive nature of the fines, the games played with yellow light timings, and the CDC finding no conclusive evidence whether they are effective or not, the costs seem to outweigh the benefits on red light cameras

    https://www.cdc.gov/motorvehiclesafety/calculator/factsheet/redlight.html


  25. - cdog - Tuesday, Oct 22, 19 @ 12:11 pm:

    This is quite the conspiracy theory. Who would ever believe people conspire to do something for power and greed. /s


  26. - City Guy - Tuesday, Oct 22, 19 @ 12:18 pm:

    I had a red light camera ticket years ago and largely thought it was largely unfair. It was a right turn on red from Diversey onto California to get onto the Kennedy. There was a “no turn on red” sign, but it was not very visible. It was 5:00 am with no traffic, but the camera didn’t care.


  27. - A Jack - Tuesday, Oct 22, 19 @ 12:28 pm:

    @CityGuy… were you offered at least a bench trial to give your side of the story? I suspect if you showed that the no right turn on red sign wasn’t clearly visible, you may have had a case.


  28. - Just Observing - Tuesday, Oct 22, 19 @ 1:04 pm:

    === I’m a bit confused on this issue. If you follow the rules of the road, and come to a complete stop before turning right on a red light, as you should, do you still get a ticket? I follow the rules and stop before I turn right on red. I have never received a violation ticket. ===

    The cameras have no discretion. If you are rear-ended and pushed into the intersection: ticket. If the no turn on red sign is missing: ticket. Can you appeal these tickets… sure… but I’m guessing it ain’t easy or often fruitful.


  29. - TinyDancer(FKASue) - Tuesday, Oct 22, 19 @ 1:28 pm:

    @City Guy
    Many times I’ve noticed that the “no right on red” sign is a few feet before the intersection, not at the the stop sign where it should be, and not facing you from across the intersection.
    I never turn right on red unless I’ve been paying attention on my way to the intersection, and I’m certain there is no sign.
    This can be fixed by placing all signs at the intersection.


  30. - anon2 - Tuesday, Oct 22, 19 @ 1:33 pm:

    ==What’s the guarantee (the companies)aren’t putting their thumb on the scale to generate more tickets? ==
    The towns I’m familiar with have their own police officers review every purported violation and decide which ones are clear violations, tossing the marginal ones. So the decisions are made by the town, not by the company.

    == you don’t have police officer there giving you a ticket ==
    The same goes for not paying a toll on the tollway. Cameras identify the scofflaws, and the owners are issued tickets. Is that unconstitutional?

    ==If you do take one of these tickets to trial as is your Constitutional right, who is your accuser, a camera?
    Motorists are entitled to go before a hearing officer to make their case. The hearing officer reviews the video evidence, listens to the accused, and makes a finding. If the motorist loses, he can appeal to circuit court. Having attending such hearings, I have seen almost every defendant recognize their violation after the video depicting their unmistakable violation is projected on a large screen.Occasionally someone insists the evidence doesn’t matter.


  31. - anon2 - Tuesday, Oct 22, 19 @ 1:37 pm:

    == The cameras have no discretion. If you are rear-ended and pushed into the intersection: ticket. If the no turn on red sign is missing: ticket.==

    Motorists can ask for a hearing. The hearing officer examines the evidence. I can’t imagine a hearing officer upholding a ticket against the motorist whose car was rearended, pushing it into an intersection. Remember there is video evidence of what occurred. The hearing process requires no lawyer and is fairly efficient. I have seen some people actually beat the ticket.


  32. - anon2 - Tuesday, Oct 22, 19 @ 1:40 pm:

    == There was a “no turn on red” sign, but it was not very visible. It was 5:00 am with no traffic, but the camera didn’t care.==

    Had the sign said “no turn on red between 6 a.m.-6 p.m.” then there would’ve been no violation. There was a violation in this case. Should the camera be programmed to give motorists a break when they feel it’s safe to turn on red?


  33. - Iamthepita - Tuesday, Oct 22, 19 @ 1:46 pm:

    I used to work for Redflex as an “enforcement officer” who would review every triggers each day at a certain intersection. I could go into the whole story about my experience there and how much it bothered me but at the end of the day, those cameras are not enforcing whether or not the driver took a right on red when there’s a sign instructing you otherwise. It’s just the matter of the vehicle actually stopping (we review the videos taken with the photos) before turning right on red - a California rolling is very common for drivers turning right on red.

    What’s interesting to me, red light cameras are enforced 24-hours but speed cameras in Chicago has designated times when it’s enforced. Same equipment, same principle but different set of enforcement standards, why?


  34. - anon2 - Tuesday, Oct 22, 19 @ 1:48 pm:

    The increase in rearend crashes tends to be temporary, declining as motorists get used to where cameras are located. Rearend crashes in the right-turn lane tend to be low-speed, as opposed to t-bone crashes in the middle of intersections.


  35. - Responsa - Tuesday, Oct 22, 19 @ 2:22 pm:

    Are people aware that teh google has places that tell you were and at what intersections the red light cameras in the multi county metro area are located? I will not provide a link for fear of encouraging lawbreaking at the non-red light camer intersections. But….


  36. - Just Saying - Tuesday, Oct 22, 19 @ 3:05 pm:

    I received a red light violation in St. Louis a few years ago. I learned a few weeks later that even though I had made a full stop, then turned when the light turned green for the 3 lanes going forward, there was a separate smaller hidden light that stayed red for 3 seconds before turning green. There was a no turn on red sign posted a ways back from the intersection so that you would not see that when at the light. I was also behind the white line fully stopped. I got a ticket for $100 but a year later I was mailed back $20 when the courts found the lights were rigged and therefore I should never have received the ticket. Their excuse was that the $80 cover administrative costs. What a racket. How many in Illinois are the same way?


  37. - iamthepita - Tuesday, Oct 22, 19 @ 3:19 pm:

    The locations of the red light cameras in Chicago? (includes a map, provided by the city of Chicago): https://webapps1.chicago.gov/traffic/

    or a list version (updated pretty frequently): https://data.cityofchicago.org/Transportation/Chicago-Traffic-Tracker-Congestion-Estimates-by-Se/n4j6-wkkf

    and additional useful information on this subject matter (somewhat interesting stuff to read too…): https://www.chicago.gov/city/en/depts/cdot/supp_info/red-light_cameraenforcement.html

    finally, a video that the city provided to demonstrate what these cameras capture (accident related): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w8NwUrqcrow


  38. - Nameless - Tuesday, Oct 22, 19 @ 3:40 pm:

    Sounds like the beginning of, “Big Brother is Watching You.”


  39. - Dub - Tuesday, Oct 22, 19 @ 4:19 pm:

    == I am of the opinion that most Chicagoans would rather see a bit extra on their property tax bill to compensate for lost red light camera revenue. == Speak for yourself, DarkDante. I’m a safe driver and have never gotten a red light or a speeding ticket in Chicago. I have gotten and paid a speeding ticket in another town — it was fair. This tax is voluntary.


  40. - Bob Kastigar - Tuesday, Oct 22, 19 @ 4:47 pm:

    This is the 21st century. We use technology today. Don’t run red lights and you won’t get a ticket.

    It’s pretty obvious.


  41. - MyTwoCents - Tuesday, Oct 22, 19 @ 5:16 pm:

    I don’t have a problem with the concept of red light cameras (in fact there’s more than a few intersections in Springfield that need cameras and would make a killing with no hijinks, no turn on red violations, etc.) but there needs to be serious reform to eliminate the corruption and ensure that the cameras are not just used for revenues.


  42. - Andy S. - Tuesday, Oct 22, 19 @ 10:01 pm:

    I live almost half the year in New Orleans and by my count, New Orleans has 99 traffic cameras. Not all of these are specifically for red light enforcement - some are for enforcing speed limits. But still - New Orleans has roughly 1/7th the population of Chicago. On a per capita basis, they likely have more cameras.


  43. - NoGifts - Wednesday, Oct 23, 19 @ 8:25 am:

    Let’s put the departments of transportation in charge of the program rather than municipalities and add the money to the highway fund rather than municipal budgets. I think that would improve the program.


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