Expanded photo enforcement sought in Illinois

| 4/17/2008

The Illinois House has approved a bill that would expand the use of cameras to ticket red-light runners at intersections in the state.

Illinois law now allows local governments in eight counties to use the enforcement tool at traffic signals. By a vote of 65-39, the state’s House voted to advance a bill to the Senate that would add eight more counties to the list.

The cameras snap pictures of vehicles and license plates of red-light runners and speeders. A ticket is mailed to the vehicles’ owners, regardless of who was driving at the time.

Violators face up to a $100 fine. Anyone with five unpaid tickets on their record could have their driving privileges suspended.

Advocates say the bill is about safety and using technology in a helpful way. Others say authorizing use of cameras frees up police to address bigger issues.

Opponents, including trucking industry officials, question the claim that the cameras are solely intended to keep people safe.

“The motivation of every player in this deal is economics. Whether it’s the local jurisdiction or the manufacturer: That’s not reasonable justification for doing that,” said Todd Spencer, executive vice president of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association.

Others question the effectiveness of such intersection cameras, arguing that they have the potential to distract drivers and cause more fender-bender accidents. In fact, multiple studies have found that crashes actually increased in cities with red-light cameras.

The counties, as well as local governments within those counties, that would be authorized to set up camera enforcement are Champaign, DeKalb, LaSalle, McLean, Peoria, Sangamon, Vermilion and Winnebago.

The enforcement tool already is allowed in the counties of Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, Madison, McHenry, St. Clair and Will and in the cities within those counties. The city of Chicago also uses red light cameras.

The bill – HB5288 – is awaiting assignment to committee in the Senate.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Illinois, click here.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor