Red-light cameras by the numbers

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By Bob Uphues and Brett McNEIL

Senior Editor and Contributing Reporter

The figures below represent red-light camera operations in River Forest, Forest Park, North Riverside and Berwyn along Harlem Avenue from North Avenue to Cermak Road between Jan. 1, 2014 to Oct. 31, 2016.

Not all of the cameras in this analysis operated the full length of this time period. The most profitable North Riverside camera, for instance, began operation in May 2014, according to village records.

Total tickets issued: 265,301

Value of total tickets issued:
$26,530,100

Total collected revenues:
$16,297,902.62

(not including Forest Park)

River Forest
North Avenue and Harlem
Ave.
37,785 tickets issued
$3,778,500 worth of citations issued
$2,685,904.36 in collected revenue

Lake and Harlem
14,237 tickets issued
$1,423,700 worth of citations issued
$1,088,670.33 in collected revenue

Total tickets issued: 52,022
 Value of total tickets issued: $5,202,200
Total collected revenue: $3,774,574.69

North Riverside
Eastbound Cermak at Harlem
25,401 tickets issued
$2,540,100 worth of citations issued
$1,485,689.51 in collected revenue

Southbound Harlem at Cermak
82,875 tickets issued
$8,287,500 worth of citations issued
$4,960,826.01 in collected revenues

Total tickets issued: 108,276
      Value of total tickets issued: $10,827,600
Total collected revenue: $6,446,515.52

Berwyn
    
Northbound Harlem at Cermak

69,053 tickets issued
$6,905,300 worth of citations issued
$4,422,207.41 in collected revenues

Westbound Cermak at Harlem
30,393 tickets issued
$3,039,300 worth of citations issued
$1,654,605 in collected revenues

Total tickets issued: 99,446
Value of total tickets issued: $9,944,600
Total collected revenue: $6,076,812.41

Forest Park
Southbound Harlem & Roosevelt
2,618 tickets issued
$261,800 worth of citations issued
Unknown amount in collected revenue*

Eastbound Roosevelt at Harlem
2,939 tickets issued
$293,900 worth of citations issued
Unknown amount in collected revenue*

Total tickets issued: 5,557
Value of total tickets issued: $555,700
Total collected revenues: Unknown*

Right turn on red
(RTOR) figures

River Forest
North and Harlem
 
Total citations: 37,785
RTOR citations: 32,769
Percentage of citations issued for RTOR
violations: 86.7 percent

Lake and Harlem
Total citations: 14,237
RTOR citations: 13,166
Percentage of citations issued for RTOR
violations: 92.4 percent

North Riverside
Eastbound Cermak at Harlem
Total citations: 25,401
RTOR citations: 24,820
Percentage of citations issued for RTOR
violations: 97.7 percent

Southbound Harlem at Cermak
Total citations: 82,875
RTOR citations: 76,407
Percentage of citations issued for
RTOR violations: 92.2 percent

Berwyn
Northbound Harlem at Cermak
Total citations: 69,053
RTOR citations: 65,787
Percentage of citations issued for RTOR
violations: 95.3 percent

Westbound Cermak at Harlem
Total citations: 30,393
RTOR citations: 23,884
Percentage of citations issued for RTOR violations: 78.6 percent

Forest Park
    
No data available from village or its red light camera vendor.

Percentage of citations issued at all intersections for RTOR violations: 91.2 percent

*Forest Park did not provide data breaking out collected revenues by camera. The village operates two cameras at Harlem and Roosevelt Road and another at Desplaines and Roosevelt. Records provided by its vendor, RedSpeed Illinois, show a total of $545,372 in collected revenues for the three cameras between January 2014 and September 2016. 

Forest Park also was unable to provide a breakdown of citations issued for right-turn violations. Collections data provided by RedSpeed show Forest Park receives only about 30 percent of all collected red-light camera revenues, or about half of what its neighboring communities receive.

Reader Comments

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James Walker  

Posted: January 29th, 2017 5:32 PM

Mr. Dwyer is correct that if right on red violations were eliminated from camera tickets, the total tickets would not be enough to support the cameras financially - regardless of whether they were operated by the city or the for-profit camera company. Unless red light cameras ticket mostly safe drivers, they lose far too much money for any city to use them. James C. Walker, National Motorists Association

Bill Dwyer  

Posted: January 23rd, 2017 10:57 AM

Al, the municipality that contracts for the RL camera would get the revenue. The light being monitored by the camera also has to be on land under the municipality's jurisdiction. IMO, red light cameras would be quite effective at discouraging illegal left hand turns, which are clear violations of the law. However, those violations would not occur often enough, I suspect, to make it worth while for the RL companies, who are in this solely for the money. .. . A far superior model would be to have the municipality take full control of and responsibility for the cameras and their operations, and don't ticket for right hand turn violations, only left turns and straight forward red light violations.Take the naked profit motive away, and I think people could accept RL cameras.

Jamie Howe from Oak Park  

Posted: January 23rd, 2017 10:18 AM

Oh my goodness!!! I was so relieved to hear this story this morning! My parents live in Berwyn and have received $700 worth of tickets from the North Riverside camera light. They are senior citizens and this is a terrible financial burden. I helped them contest the tickets but they have paid $500 in citations. I also filed a complaint on their behalf to the State's Attorney. The SA office responded they could not do anything but literally a day after their letter arrived I received an EM from a deputy in North Riverside regarding the citations. This is very helpful information for our active conversations and I hope it helps their case. We would like to push back on the $500 they already paid. They are on a fixed income - SS and a government pension. This feels predatory and they simply cannot afford it. Thank you for this reporting!!!

June Gibson Oliver from Oak park , IL  

Posted: January 14th, 2017 8:51 AM

I received a ticket last year for RTOR from River Forest at North and Harlem. It was 11pm w very light traffic- no pedestrians. The video shows my brake lights as I stopped but apprently the car has to demonstrate a so backward movement to prove you came to a complete stop for a few seconds. I agree w the writer who said its larceny front the government to raise money where there is no safety issue. It seems a dishonest way to raise funds - masquerading as a public service for traffic safety.

Heather Ash  

Posted: January 11th, 2017 11:44 AM

I was once part of a local board being asked to install red light cameras in a certain situation, and the conclusion reached (when we declined) was that unless there were immediate consequences instead of the months-long wait for that surprise ticket in the mail, there was little deterrence. We kept hearing about the great revenue that would be generated. I believe we even asked for amounts from the red light company to show that citations declined over time with the use of red light cameras, but that information was either not provided or did not reflect that. It would be interesting to break down these total figures into yearly tallies -- if accidents and violations decrease year-to-year, then your deterrent works. If not, and I suspect that's the case here, the red light camera is not a deterrent and is not serving its stated purpose.

James Walker  

Posted: January 11th, 2017 7:58 AM

These numbers prove that the red light cameras are almost entirely about robbing money from safe drivers who endangered no one. Federal research shows that only six one-hundredths of one percent (0.06% or 0.0006) of all crashes with injuries or fatalities involve a right on red turn - including both those with or without a full stop. Most right on red camera tickets are larceny by governments, not safety programs. Red light cameras are a dirty industry that should be banned by law in every state, as they are in some already. NO ONE should approve of red light cameras. James C. Walker, National Motorists Association

Al Rossell  

Posted: January 10th, 2017 3:32 PM

Wonder why no camera at Harlem and North Blvd. There is a no left turn from North Blvd to Harlem and 1 out of 4 people i see still make the left turn. Could be a real money maker as well as making it a little bit more safe. Who gets the money Oak Park or River Forest?

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