Stone Park right turn red light camera rakes in hundreds of thousands of dollars in tickets

STONE PARK, Ill. (WLS) -- A right-hand turn lane red light camera in the village of Stone Park is raising questions among drivers, and there's hope a little-known law can help save them money.

The red light camera in the right-hand lane for drivers going southbound on Mannheim Road at Lake Street has generated $676,000 for Stone Park in all of 2020 and the first eight months of 2021.

"I feel like I'm being robbed," Michael Tock said.

Tock didn't stop at the white line and he inched up the curve to view oncoming traffic. That's when he said he stopped, before making the right turn. He still go a $ 100 ticket.

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"You can see as I go past that white line, you can see clearly, my rear lights," he said.

The Illinois Rules of the Road say you do have to stop at a white line but Tock cites another Illinois law saying an "automated traffic law enforcement system" or a camera, can't ticket drivers for not stopping at the white line unless pedestrians or bicyclists are present.

"How many of these violations are being sent out to motorists who stopped the very same way? At all of these different municipalities," wondered Mark Wallace of Citizens to Abolish Red Light Cameras.

Wallace helped get that law on the books in 2009 and said it can help people beat a red light ticket.

"Ninety-five percent or 97% of the people who will get these tickets will not contest them," he said.

Tock did contest his ticket, and it was dismissed.

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The Stone Park police chief acknowledged the white line law, but he also reinforced that a stop must always be made before you enter the intersection.
"There are many people who stop on the bar, or just beyond the bar, so that they can clearly see if it's safe for them to make a right turn," said Wallace.

He's right. The I-Team visited Stone Park's red light camera court where several other people were contesting tickets for the same issue.

"You can't see back here the oncoming traffic, so you have to stop a little further up, because I like to see what cars are coming or not," driver Edne, who did not want to share her last name, said.

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They all said video shows they eventually stopped in the middle of or past the white line.

"But you can't see to the left unless you pull up, so you're actually going to pull up a little, you're gonna stop and you're going to turn," said driver Donald Fey at the courthouse.

"I shouldn't have been ticketed and I shouldn't have to contest this violation then," driver C. Johnson said. Her ticket was dismissed. "It's a waste of time, taxpayers' time, my time."

For years, the I-Team received dozens of complaints about overall confusion at similar red light camera intersections.

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Traffic experts have told the I-Team that the right hand turn lanes can mislead drivers into thinking they don't have to stop as they pull up to see oncoming traffic.

A red light camera in Rolling Meadows is in the same situation with a designated right hand turn, an island to the left and no traffic signal to the right.

The I -Team has counted another 10 right hand turn lanes with cameras in suburbs like Melrose Park, Rosemont, Crestwood, Hometown, Addison, Matteson and more.

Municipalities have told the I-Team that signs warn drivers about red light cameras and that they follow all laws when placing them. They added that the cameras reduce overall crashes.

In Stone Park, Tock is hoping the village will change its view on this red light camera.

"I think the red light camera should be gone completely," he said.

The I-Team has talked to experts in past reports, who say trends show the majority of red light tickets come from going right on red. But federal data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said that only 1.2% of crashes occur at right hand turns.
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