The red light cameras at Harlem and North avenues continue to be a boon on two fronts for River Forest: a lower number of traffic accidents at that busy intersection and an increase in revenue as well, according to information from the River Forest Police Department.
Since January 2013 when the program became operational, some 16,284 violations were meted out to drivers who failed to completely stop before turning at the corner. Nearly 44,000 videos were reviewed by the vendor who handles the program for the department, Police Chief Gregory Weiss said.
The cameras have reportedly changed driving habits. Only eight accidents took place on Harlem Avenue in the block south of North Avenue, down from 25 in 2012. Drivers in the accidents did not stop abruptly because of the cameras, causing either rear-end collisions or right angle crashes, said Weiss after reviewing the reports.
In all, the department tallied $482,556 in fines last year, Weiss noted.
For those unfamiliar with the program, here's how it works:
Eastbound motorists can trigger the red-light camera on North Avenue when they make any moving violations while the light has turned red, such as running the light or failing to come to a complete stop before turning left or right onto Harlem. Because the light in question is on the southwest corner of that intersection, infractions fall under River Forest jurisdiction.
When the violation occurs, a 20-second snippet of video is shot, and the film goes to SafeSpeed, which runs the program for the village. The infractions are sent to the police department, where police review the footage and decide whether to approve or reject the infraction.
If approved, the citation goes to the driver, who can review the film online or at a kiosk on the second floor of village hall. Drivers can pay the $100 ticket or appeal the citation in person or in writing. In either case, a hearing officer will review the video and determine if the ticket was issued correctly or in error.
Drivers who still feel they are in the right can request a hearing in traffic court in Maybrook, which they must set up themselves.
Violators have 21 days to pay or the fine doubles. Unpaid fines are sent to a collections agency, Weiss said. Once the fine is paid, the moving violation will not appear on a person's driving record.
Cameras were to be in operation at Harlem Avenue and Lake Street as well, but as of yet no agreement has been reached with Cook County on the use of that agency's land (the northwest corner of that intersection), Weiss said.