Harwood Heights red light cameras pulling in the dough
Harwood Heights red light cameras (RLCs) on Foster and Lawrence Avenues at Harlem netted over $2.1 million dollars since they were put into operation, through January 2015, an investigation reveals.
Chicago’s red light camera program has been getting the most press lately, with Chicago officials caught shortening yellow lights to get more tickets, and red light camera company executives going to jail for bribery.
Looking a little closer to home, Harwood Heights’ red light camera program is receiving scrutiny due to is focus on right turn violations, and locations with low crash statistics.
A 2012 listing of top intersection accidents lists Nagle/Gunnison, Montrose/Narragansett, Lawrence/Harlem, Harlem/North Carmen Ave, Harlem/Forest Preserve-Normandy, and Oak Park/Forest Preserve.
Despite this, the following year, the Village of Harwood Heights installed a RLC at Foster & Harlem, which isn’t even on the list. The Lawrence/Harlem intersection is third on the list.
Harlem/Foster has a “no right turn on red if pedestrians are present” sign, whereas Harlem/Lawrence has a “no turn on red” sign.
97% of the tickets were for right turn on red violations, yet the collision statistics show only 27% of accidents at these intersections were due to turning.
Other studies have shown right turns on red are the least dangerous.
About money not “safety”
By these statistics, it would appear Harwood Heights’ red light camera program is not about safety, but rather for profit. It’s another tax on drivers, facilitated by private corporations.
In 2011, the Illinois legislature amended the red light camera law, to restrict right turn on red tickets, as municipalities were robo-ticketing rolling right turns, even in cases where there were no traffic or pedestrians.
The amended law says that municipalities “may not use an automated traffic law enforcement system to issue violations in instances where the motor vehicle comes to a complete stop and does not enter the intersection”.
Drivers reported receiving tickets from the Harlem/Foster camera, even though they came to a complete stop past the line, but before the intersection, with no pedestrians present.
Some of these drivers challenged their tickets, but the Harwood Heights hearing officer refused to dismiss them.
Furthermore, as of this writing, the Village has failed to post a required notice of the Foster/Harlem red light camera on its website as required by law.
Have you received a red light camera ticket from the Village of Harwood Heights? Contact us with your story.