Red light cameras capture the 'burbs'

January 23, 2009 8:38:48 AM PST
Drivers beware- suburban authorities are watching you. When a motorist illegally passes through the intersection with a camera, sensors will trigger the camera to capture a photo. If the violation appears to be just, the motorist will receive the notice and a ticket in the mail. Some violations cost as much as $100. Most of that money goes to the municipality. Local officials said it will help make their roads safer.

In Wheeling, crews drilled through two feet of frozen surface to run a conduit to the future site of the city's first red light camera, located at Dundee and Milwaukee. According to Wheeling's deputy police chief, the intersection has been the scene of many accidents.

"We just don't have the manpower or the ability to have somebody here at all times, especially at rush-hour," said Deputy Chief Bill Benson, Wheeling Police Department

RedSpeed Illinois will monitor Wheeling's camera, which is one of more than 100 of the company's cameras in 50 municipalities across Cook and DuPage counties.

"There is an accident reduction up to 43- percent where these cameras are being installed," said Sean Tomasz, RedSpeed Illinois.

Schaumburg had cameras installed at Meacham and Woodfield in November. The village manager said so far they've collected $259,000 from tickets at this intersection and are owed an estimated $400,000 more from red light violators.

"These programs are funded by the violators. All of the revenue mentioned is coming from violators," said Tomasz.

"There's no doubt it's going to bring revenue, but the purpose of it is to reduce crashes and ? change the habits of the motoring public," said Deputy Benson.

Schaumburg Village Trustee George Dunham chairs the public safety committee. He said their motivation was safety because too many motorists were making decisions that endangered lives.

Wheeling's deputy chief hopes that eventually motorists will learn to take more care and not trigger red light tickets. He says success will mean less revenue, but safer roads.