Put out the Red Light

The Daily-Herald, which covers Chicago’s northwest suburbs, carries news today that Schaumburg, Ill., is dropping its red light traffic enforcement cameras after eight “tumultuous” months.

That news comes along with a Daily-Herald investigative series over the weekend that raised some red flags about red light cameras:

Most of the $100 red-light tickets are issued for turning right without coming to a complete stop. Traffic experts question the value of making this such a high priority, since it results in few serious accidents.

The answer is, “ka-ching.” In some of the communities surveyed by the paper, 90 percent of red light camera violations involved right turns on red. In some cases drivers who were ticketed did stop, just not at the white line.

Clearly, red light cameras can be used with the goal of making intersections safer. But this also shows the technology can become a revenue cash cow with little regard for improved safety.

Red light cameras are expected to be installed in Cedar Rapids this fall. Police and city officials here have insisted the cameras are all about improving traffic safety, not raising revenue.

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8 Comments

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8 responses to “Put out the Red Light

  1. As a driver I have to say that being ticketed for not coming to a complete stop before turning right on red would outrage me. However, as a pedestrian and a bicyclist who is often told to “get off the roads and bike on the sidewalk,” I think these tickets are possibly the most important.

    When turning right on red, the normal place to be looking is towards your left, where the traffic you want to merge with is coming from. You are not looking to the right, or in front of you, both places that the pedestrian/bike you are about to run over is. If the CR police are making money while re-educating the driving public the laws they need to abide by, good for them.

    If you are a driver and you are outraged by this, remember one thing, there is a reason for all those marking on the road, I suggest you obey them.

  2. Christine

    In our desire for more laws we ignore the fact that we are handing more and more of our freedoms and money over to government entities.
    We believe that we are being “protected,” and forget that we are responsible for ourselves.
    The red light cameras will become another way to relieve us of our cash.

    • Uh… I’m a little confused here. The city isn’t writing any new laws, they’re simply enforcing the ones that you already agreed to abide to when you got your driver’s license.

      If you don’t want to fork over your money to the police, don’t break the laws or even better, don’t drive.

  3. Jerry

    Christine, I take responsibility for my actions, whether I like it or not. How do we get someone to be more responsible before they run someone over?

  4. Christine

    If you think there is too much irresponsible driving already, why do you think red light cameras will change anything, except become a set-up to get into our pockets?
    If you want to live in a perfect world, you need to move to Utopia.

    • I think tickets given by the red light cameras will work just like speeding tickets, littering tickets, fines for reckless driving, fines for selling tobacco/alcohol to minors, OSHA fines for dangerous work conditions, etc. And those things seem to do a pretty good job of discouraging behavior that puts other people at risk.

      I wish that everyone behaved in a manor that was in the best interest of everyone, but I am a realist and I know that we don’t live in a Utopian society. That being said, we need to do something to discourage this behavior, and fines are the easiest way.

      Would you support a system where you had to work 10 hours of community service instead of a fine? Maybe if you run a red light you should be required to be a crossing guard at the intersection you ran for a whole day.

      I would also question your last line “If you want to live in a perfect world, you need to move to Utopia.” Who doesn’t want to live in a perfect world, and what is wrong with trying to make the world we live in the best possible?

  5. Christine

    Let me make this easy for you, read the article here and find out what the potential problems with red light cameras are.

  6. tm

    So if Cedar Rapids is not installing them for revenue, why are they placing it in the budget as a revenue generator? They are again not being truthful………..

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