Chicago Red Light Camera Class Action Lawsuit Moves Forward

According the Cook County Record and other news outlets, plaintiffs in a class action lawsuit filed against the city of Chicago for improper red light camera violations has survived a motion to dismiss by the city. The lawsuit, which alleged that the city failed to send a second notice of violation, as required by its ordinances, to give those receiving the tickets sufficient chance to contest them in court, before the city began assessing additional fees and fines for the unpaid tickets. In other words, the suit states that failing to provide the second notice was a violation of offender’s due process.

The city moved to dismiss this lawsuit and the circuit court judge, Kathleen Kennedy, not only denied this motion bet held the following in her ruling:

““The ordinance makes it clear that the city was required to send a second notice before determining liability,” the judge wrote. “The city argues that notices received by plaintiffs satisfied due process because ‘due process only requires notice and an opportunity to be heard’ … Here, plaintiffs’ receipt of a single violation notice does not mean that due process was satisfied when the ordinance mandates that two notices be sent to a non-responder before a determination of liability.”

The plaintiffs in this lawsuit are seeking class action status and this is another step forward in that pursuit. If plaintiffs do reach class action status and are able to prevail at trial, then the city could be facing hundreds of millions of dollars in fees that they must refund to drivers who paid these tickets without receiving the second notice.

It’s worth pointing out that weeks after this lawsuit was filed, the city immediately changed its’ procedure when issuing these tickets. They immediately began requiring they issue the second notice to violators. It will be unclear whether this action would be admissible into evidence if the case makes it to trial. Typically, subsequent remedial behavior by a tortfeasor is not admissible into evidence.

I have been writing in this blog for years now that red light and speed camera programs should end. Studies have shown that they do not provide a net safety benefit to the city as the number of traffic accidents have not decreased since the implementation of these cameras. I will be following this lawsuit closely in the news in the coming months.

If you or someone you love has been injured in a Chicago car crash or a Chicago truck accident, then call Chicago personal injury lawyer, Aaron J. Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076.

Mayor Emanuel Responds To Report On Speeding Motorcade

A recent report from CBS News
Chicago stated that Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s  motorcade
was caught speeding or running red lights 20 times since 2012. The alarming
part of this report as that the speeding and stop sign running was caught by
the cameras placed in school zones by Emanuel. He has been adamant since day
one of these cameras that they were installed for safety purposes (to protect
children) rather than as a revenue stream for the city.

At a news
conference today, Mr. Emanuel had a chance to respond to the report. “As
soon as I saw that, or heard about it, the story, I said, ‘Look, follow the
law. Nobody’s above the law. Slow down, period. Non-stop,” Emanuel said. 

I think we will all
be following his motorcade closely from here on out to see if the mayor will
practice what he preaches. The cameras were placed there to, you know, deter
people from speeding and running stop signs.

If you or someone
you love has been injured in a Chicago car crash or Chicago truck accident,
then call Chicago personal injury attorney, Aaron Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076. 

Are Chicago Red Light Cameras Causing More Traffic Accidents?

The Huffingon Post reported recently that the much maligned red light cameras in Chicago could be making busy intersections more dangerous.  A Texas A&M study has shown that the red light cameras – – which result in shorter yellow lights – – are causing more car accidents .

The Texas A&M study found that “adding one second of yellow decreases crashes 35 to 40 percent and violations by 60 percent.” Longer yellows give drivers more time to stop, making them both less likely to crash and less likely to be caught running a red. Yellow lights across the city are timed at exactly three seconds, the exact minimum allowed by state and federal guidelines.  In tandem with the red-light cameras, these short yellows can make drivers hesitant as they approach intersections, and more likely to slam on the brakes when they see a yellow, said Barnet Fagel of the National Motorists’ Association. The cameras, he said in and appearance on “Chicago Tonight” are “making people drive under pressure and tension, and having their foot poised over the brake pedal.”  Fagel claims to have identified lights around the city where the yellow lights hovers around two-and-a-half seconds.

It will be interesting to see if the Illinois Legislature will attempt to ban (or at least limit) red light cameras. They are a revenue maker for cities and for the state, but the question the legislature must ask is if they are making intersections safer, which should have been the purpose for installing these cameras in the first place.

If you or someone you know has been involved in a Chicago car accident  or Chicago truck accident , then call Chicago car accident attorney , Aaron Bryant, for a free consultation  on your personal injury  case at 312-588-3384 or go to the firm website at www.blgchicago.com

Chicago Area Police Departments Endorse Red Light Camera

I have written about the effectiveness of red light cameras here and here. Studies to date have shown mixed results as to their effectiveness.

In a March 12 letter to the editor of the Chicago Tribune, fourteen Chicago area police chiefs endorsed the use of red light cameras in their towns’ intersections.  The letter points to a number of statistics in supporting their cause for these types of cameras. Specifically they cite  recent U.S. Federal Highway Administration study also found red-light camera intersections to have shown a 24.7% decrease nationwide in “right-angle”  car crashes or “broadside”  auto collisions which are particularly dangerous.

The police chiefs also argued that the cameras helped apprehend a “hit and run” suspect in Chicago. It is clear where local police departments stand on this issue. I would like to see more studies performed before making a determination.

To read the complete letter, click here.

If you or someone you know has been involved in a Chicago car accident or Chicago truck accident, then call attorney Aaron Bryant for a free consultation at 312-588-3384.

A Third Of Cook County Fatalities Linked To Drunk Drivers

The Chicago Sun Times recently released  car accident fatality statistics , which showed that from 1994 to 2008, one third  of all  Cook County car accident fatalities were related to drunk driving. The analysis was performed by Scripps Howard New Services.

As part of the project, Scripps Howard researchers counted the number of deaths on every road in America, using data provided by the U.S. Department of Transportation. Scripps analyzed 562,712 fatal accidents from 1994 to 2008 that claimed 627,433 lives.

While the carnage has fallen in recent years — 37,261 individuals died in vehicular accidents in 2008 — that’s still more than 10 times the number who died in the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

Most of the traffic fatalities can be attributed to excessive speed, alcohol-impairment or failure to wear seat belts. Drivers distracted while texting, eating or using their cell phones are also a growing concern.

“People may feel more comfortable drinking and driving in rural areas, thinking that they are not as likely to get caught as on major roads,” concluded Lee Munnich, director of the Center for Excellence in Rural Safety at the University of Minnesota.

If you or someone you know has been involved in a Chicago car accident or Chicago truck accident or have been charged with a DUI or other traffic violation, then call attorney Aaron Bryant for a free consultation at 312-588-3384.

Red Light Cameras Working In Other Cities

I previously wrote about the effectiveness of red light cameras in Chicago. Car accident statistics for some Chicago intersections that had red light cameras actually showed an increase in car crashes.

My hometown of Kansas City, Missouri is actually showing a decrease car crashes around their city in intersections that contain red light cameras.  The Kansas City Star reported recently that  car wrecks overall declined 26 percent. Injury wrecks fell by 42 percent. And wrecks caused by drivers running red lights plunged 67 percent. Those declines contrast with a slight increase in wrecks citywide during that same time period.

“As a driver myself, I know I’m paying more attention,” said KC Police Chief Jim Corwin. “I think a lot of people are paying more attention, so those figures don’t surprise me.”

“I’m glad to hear it’s making a difference,” said Councilwoman Cathy Jolly, a proponent of the camera system. “This is why we did it.”

Nationwide, studies of crashes at camera-monitored intersections have reported mixed results.

Large studies from Virginia and North Carolina reported crash numbers grew after cameras were installed. Other studies, including ones in Dallas and California, cited a reduction in crashes.

Beth Ebel, director of the Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Center in Seattle, said many studies generally have found a decrease in right-angle or T-bone crashes but an increase in rear-end crashes.

To read the complete article, click here. It will be interesting to see how the intersections with red light cameras in Chicago fare in the next few  years. As mentioned above, experts who have studied this issue believe it could take up to three (3) years to determine their effectiveness.

If you or someone you know has been involved in a Chicago car accident or Chicago truck accident, then call attorney Aaron Bryant for a free consultation at 312-588-3384.