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Chicago Is The Red Light Camera Capital Of America

By Chuck Sudo in News on Jan 18, 2013 6:45PM

Photo Credit: -Tripp-
Last week the city announced it would put the red light camera contract out to bid as it extended the current contract to Redflex Camera Systems for another six months. Our friend Mike Brockaway at The Expired Meter reported earlier this week on the growing calls from residents in Chicago and surrounding suburbs to fight the rise in red light and speeding cameras.

Brockaway pointed out an astounding number: Chicago currently has 383 red light cameras at 190 intersections across the city. That's the most of any major city in the country. Those cameras generated $61 million in revenue in 2010. For all the talk from the Emanuel administration about the speeding camera ordinance being a safety measure, there's no denying the program is expected to be a revenue generator for the city, in addition to putting more digital eyes on Chicago's streets.

Brockaway spoke with some residents who are mad as Hell about red light cameras and decided to fight back. An online petition by Chatham resident Stephen Hinton to revoke red light cameras in Chicago has garnered only 159 signatures. But Hinton is undeterred.

“I see the glaring disservice the red light cameras do to the citizens of Chicago,” said Hinton when asked why he started the petition. “It’s unfairly taking advantage of the citizens of Chicago.”

Hinton points out a particular hindrance in fighting red light camera tickets: Drivers can only fight the tickets in court Monday through Friday, making it harder for them to take time off to contest the fines and ultimately winding up paying them before the fines double.

Brockaway also writes about the Cook County Campaign for Liberty, which has had some success in preventing Cook County government from setting up cameras on county roads. The group's Scott Davis said a sustained campaign is needed to stop municipalities from jumping on the red light/speeding camera bandwagon.

“There was no public outcry for speed cameras. There’s no real proof it will make things safer.”

Of course, it’s no surprise Davis, a Lakeview resident, agrees with Hinton on the money aspect of traffic enforcement cameras.

“It’s obviously just another money grab-a tax on people who drive,” says Davis. “They say its about safety but its actually a revenue maneuver and against our civil liberties.”