Illinois drivers may see end of automated tickets from red-light cameras

Illinois drivers may see end of automated tickets from red-light cameras

Red-light cameras generated lots of traffic ticket revenue for local government without proof they made roads safer. One Illinois House bill would ban them from certain municipalities, but another would ban them statewide.

Drivers in Illinois could see red-light cameras banned if newly introduced bills gain momentum in Springfield.

State Reps. David McSweeney, R-Barrington Hills, and Jonathan Carroll, D-Northbrook have signed on as chief co-sponsors to House Bills 322 and 323, both of which would restrict local governments’ use of red-light camera devices in Illinois.

HB 322 is limited. It would prohibit new devices or force removal of existing devices in municipalities without home rule powers in Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, Madison, McHenry, St. Clair and Will counties.

As recently October 2018, suburban communities in at least three of those counties – Cook, DuPage and Lake – were still contracting with red-light camera vendor Redflex Traffic Systems Inc., despite the corrupt company’s involvement in a $2 million Chicago bribery scandal.

HB 323’s restrictions would be statewide and cover municipalities regardless of home rule powers. The bill would strip from the Illinois Vehicle Code authorization to deploy red-light cameras, and further bar municipalities from enforcing traffic violations with new or existing automated devices.

McSweeney and Carroll also became chief co-sponsors of House Bill 326, which would require the Illinois Department of Transportation, or IDOT, to study the performance and efficiency of red-light camera systems. IDOT would report its findings, recommending changes to the General Assembly by the end of the year.

A 2018 study by Case Western Reserve University contradicted claims made by many local governments when it found red-light camera enforcement had no measurable positive effect on public safety. The study found red-light cameras simply cause different categories of traffic accidents, rather than reducing them. Red-light cameras caused “non-angle” accidents, such as rear-end collisions, to increase, according to the study, likely leading to a rise in traffic accidents overall.

Red-light cameras have served as a revenue generator for local government at the expense of drivers, often without any improvement in traffic safety. In Chicago between 2011 and 2015 alone, drivers received $285 million in tickets from the devices. State lawmakers should join McSweeney and Carroll in relieving Illinois motorists of an unnecessary – and costly – burden.

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