Once seen as a means of improving public safety and increasing village revenues at the same time, traffic cameras are not so popular anymore. In fact, some villages in Illinois are deciding against red-light cameras despite the revenue they produce.
“I think they reduce accidents, but I have concerns about citing people for turning right on red because I don’t believe that leads to accidents,” said Hinsdale Police Chief Brad Bloom.
Mayor Arlene Mulder of Arlington Heights said the village board voted a few years ago against installing them because of similar concerns about right turns and a lack of fatal accidents. According to police department records in 2011, there were five fatal crashes in the village in the previous four years.
We just thought there’s not any interest to put in any red-light (cameras),” she said. “There was no strong request from the police department. We didn’t see the need for that.”
The Village of Schaumburg, for instance, did away with some red-light cameras near Woodfield Mall, a popular tourist destination, because of complaints. Some visitors threatened to never shop there again after receiving red-light camera tickets. Rather than lose sales tax revenues from these consumers, the village turned off the cameras.
In the southwest suburbs, Orland Park has not seen any evidence that the cameras actually reduced accidents.
Reducing crashes was the goal when three red-light cameras were installed in 2009 at high traffic intersections in Orland Park. Village spokesman Joe LaMargo said the village has seen the number of violations go down, but a reduction in accidents is not as evident. He said statistics on accidents are difficult to compute because only one leg of each of the three intersections is captured by the camera.
This is a positive development for drivers and taxpayers. Red-light cameras are used to fleece the public.