City of Chicago Agrees To $38 Million Settlement In Red Light Camera Lawsuit

The Chicago Tribune reported this week that the City of Chicago has come to a preliminary agreement with a class of plaintiffs who sued to city for unfair practices with the red light cameras. The proposed settlement is for $38.75 million, but still needs final approval from city counsel.

The class action lawsuit, which was filed in March 2015 and received class certification last year, alleged that the city violated its own rules by failing to send a second notice of a violation before guilt was determined, and by doubling the fine for late payment of tickets sooner than allowed. Following the filing of this lawsuit, city administration responded by changing the city ordinance to eliminate the requirement for a second notice. In September 2016, the city passed an ordinance to give those who hadn’t gotten second notices from 2010 to 2015 a do-over, sending notices giving people the right to request an administrative hearing to contest their tickets. Emanuel’s lawyers argued that brought them into compliance.

As part of this settlement, approximately 1.2 million people will be receiving 50% back on previously paid tickets.   Those who qualify will receive letters in the mail in upcoming months notifying them they were part of the suit and telling them how to collect their refunds.  Under the settlement, people who got tickets from 2010 to 2015 will be paid out of a $26.75 million pot. The city also will forgive another $12 million in motorists’ unpaid tickets.

I think this a positive development. I think it shows the city is being held accountable for their actions. I have long written on this site that the red light cameras were a money grab for the city. Looking at these lawsuits, settlements, indictments and convictions for the red light camera company Redflex, all I can do is sort of chuckle. It is sad for the city. What is even more sad is that the cameras didn’t make the city safer. Study after study showed that the net benefit of the cameras was a push at best. It makes me think I was right all along. These never should have been installed.

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

Chicago Transportation Commissioner: Traffic Crashes Are A Public Health Crises

Chicago Transportation Commissioner, Rebekah Scheinfeld, spoke to a group at the  City Club of Chicago last week making the claim that the number of traffic fatalities in and around Chicago has created a major health crises. The purpose of her speech was to make the case  for “Vision Zero,” a three-year plan with the  goal of eliminating traffic deaths and serious injuries that affect 2,000 people in Chicago each year.

The “Vision Zero” plan The plan will rely heavily on signs, surveillance cameras and “data-driven” enforcement to convince Chicago motorists to stop ignoring the city’s traffic laws.

Th neighborhoods that they plan on focusing on includes: the Loop, the Near North and Near West Sides, Austin, Belmont-Cragin, East and West Garfield Park, North Lawndale, Humboldt Park, West Town, West Englewood, Englewood, Washington Park and Grand Boulevard.

“The only goal we should be aiming to achieve is zero. Zero deaths and zero serious injuries. We all have the right to walk, bike, take transit and drive on streets that are safe for everyone, regardless of who we are or where we live,” Scheinfeld said Monday.

A portion of her talk focused on the recent changes in red light tickets. Scheinfeld said the city has also agreed to begin the process to move red-light cameras from six existing intersections and place them at five new locations where the study shows red-light cameras would have a greater impact on safety.

 This is a lofty goal set forth by the city but it is the right one to make. I think it’s almost impossible to think that all traffic fatalities will be eliminated just due to the number of motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists that pack city streets everyday. If “Vision Zero” merely makes huge cuts in the number of traffic fatalities, I think it will be a success.

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

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.

It’s Time To Remove Red Light Cameras From Chicago’s Intersections

I have written multiple posts regarding Chicago’s much maligned red light and speeder cameras over the last several years. The issues have concerned the actual validity (do they make our streets safer?) to the overt corruption that took place. The piper is now asking to be paid for the corruption as former Chicago Department of Transportation Office, John Bills, was found guilty in federal court on all 20 counts of public corruption, including bribery and mail fraud. Bill was convicted for accepting cash, luxury hotel accommodations, trips and sporting event tickets from Red Flex, the original company the city hired to handle their red light cameras. Prosecutors estimate Bills received up to $2 million in cash and other perks. Bills awaits sentencing on May 5.

To me this is all kind of a joke, including the cameras them selves. Studies have shown, including one performed by Texas A&M University, that Chicago’s red light cameras provide no net safety benefit for drivers and pedestrians. Yes, t-bone accidents have decreased slightly but rear-accidents have actually increased. The only possible benefit to the city (if you believe the studies) is that it is a cash grab. At the same time the cameras’ purpose are being questioned, all of the above corruption comes to light. Red Flex buys their way into city hall, while city official fatten their pockets. How can we possibly take this program seriously. They do not make our intersections safer and the whole history behind the program is corrupt. It is time to remove red light and speeder cameras from Chicago’s intersections.

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

Can Chicago’s Speeder Cameras Affect Your Personal Injury Case

The Chicago Sun Times reported this week that two (2) new speeder cameras were installed this month by the Chicago Department of Transportation. The cameras were activated at 3200 S. Archer Avenue and near Keystone Park at 1754 N. Pulaski Road, 4053 W. North Ave. and 4042 W. North Ave.

In the school safety zones, from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. drivers must drive 20 miles per hour when children are present and the posted speed limit when no children are present. From 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., drivers must adhere to the posted speed limit, according to the statement.

Those who are caught speeding for the first thirty (30) days will only receive a warning. After this trial period, tickets will be issued for those driving over 10 mph of the posted speed limit.

A question that often pops up regarding speeder camera tickets is whether the video evidence can affect a car accident lawsuit. The answer is yes. Often times when a dispute arises as to who caused a car crash, the parties can turn to the video evidence to determine who was at fault. This is especially true when there is a dispute as to who ran a red light. With the advent of red light cameras and other surveillance cameras, attorneys can request the video footage to help determine who was at fault. The same thing can now take place if a traffic accident takes place within the speed camera zone. The attorney can file a freedom of information act (“FOIA”) request to the city of Chicago and determine if a party was speeding and if the speeding was the cause of the car accident. The video evidence could also determine how violent the collision was. I think it is important for personal injury attorneys to take a close look at the crash reports and determine if the accident took place in a speeder zone. If so, then the video footage could impact the validity of a case.

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

Chicago City Council Approves New Law On Red Light Cameras

The Chicago Tribune reported today that the Chicago city council approved a new “watered down” red light camera ordinance. The ordinance, which passed today and apparently has the mayor’s backing, The latest version requires city officials to meet with the community to present traffic safety evidence before putting in or taking out new red light cameras, but does not give residents the ability to veto a city decision. The measure also calls for the city “to engage an outside academic team” to study Chicago’s red light camera system and give recommendations about how it’s administered.

A previous version that was presented would have have increased the minimum yellow light time at Chicago intersections from 3 seconds to 3.2 seconds and required a council vote before any new red light cameras could be installed.

The Tribune aptly pointed out in their article today that the new ordinance failed to address the issues found in their scientific study performed last year by scientists from Texas A&M. Specifically, failing to address the city’s dangerously short yellow light times, which do not meet national engineering guidelines. Transportation engineering experts say that the city’s 3-second yellow lights, in combination with red light cameras, prompt many drivers to stop short to avoid a ticket. The experts agree that combination is responsible for an increase in rear-end car crashes.

So, I would say this is progress but it seems to be at a glacial pace. Though many aldermen candidates and mayoral candidates ran on platforms that would rid the city of red light cameras, have appeared to have failed to back up their campaign promises. My problem as that we know rear-end car accidents have actually increased at intersections where the city has put some red light cameras yet the city has failed to fully deal with this issue.

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

Mayor Emanuel’s Motorcade Caught Running Red Lights, Again.

Despite promises from Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel that his motorcade would follow local traffic laws, they were caught by multiple cameras running red lights and even driving the wrong way. Back in January, in response to questions about traffic violations, the mayor responded: “”No one is above the law. Obey the law. Period.  Full stop,” Emanuel said.

Well, according to multiple news outlets, including, ABC 7,  NBC Chicago and My Fox Chicago, the mayor’s motorcade was shown by cameras running red lights at Lake Shore Drive and Belmont and at Cicero and Washington. These events took place on March 14, and March 21.

The videos, which can be seen on the Chicagoist website, clearly show that the violations were done by individual vehicles, not the case of a secondary vehicle trying to keep up with the first. This was the excuse the mayor gave back in January for previous violations.

The mayor’s office has yet to respond to these reports. This is interesting because Mayor Emanuel has stated over and over that red light cameras, speed cameras and pedestrian cross walk stop signs have all been implemented for public safety. These were not implemented for money making purposes, according to the mayor. Then why does the mayor and his staff continued to act as if they are above the law? Why have they not been ticketed and fined for these traffic violations? What if a car crash occurs due to these negligent actions? I’m looking forward to the mayor’s response.

If you or someone you know has been involved in a Chicago traffic accident or Chicago truck accident, then call Chicago personal injury lawyer, Aaron Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076.

Florida Judges Throw Out 24,000 Red Light Camera Tickets

As I have written multiple times the last few months, red light cameras have been under close scrutiny here in Chicago, especially during this mayoral election year. The scrutiny hit a tipping point a few weeks back, when city hall decided to remove red light cameras in fifty (50) different intersections across the city

A tipping point has been met in Florida. Time magazine recently reported that two (2) judges threw out 24,000 red light cameras because the enforcement procedure violated state law.   an Arizona-based vendor named American Traffic Solutions was responsible for reviewing the footage captured by red light cameras in Florida, and then it forwarded the specifics on to police. Judges ruled that the involvement by the out-of-state party is itself a violation of state law, hence the decision to negate traffic citations worth $6.3 million.

The article pointed out that more and more municipalities are dumping their red light camera programs. The state of New Jersey ended its red light camera program at the end of 2014, while officials and driver advocates in New York City have been demanding more transparency to red light camera systems—because there’s reason to be skeptical about the claims they actually improve driver and pedestrian safety.

What will happen in Chicago? Despite recent studies questioning the safety of red light cameras, allegations of fraud and short yellow light time, I believe it will be status quo. Red light cameras will not be going anywhere.

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

The Active Transportation Alliance Opposes Proposed Ban On Traffic Cameras

The Chicago Sun Times reported this week that the Active Transportation Alliance is not taking too kindly the recent efforts by aldermen to put an end to red light and speeder cameras. The Active Transportation Alliance is a non-profit organization whose mission is to improve safety and conditions for bicyclists, pedestrians and mass transit users around the city of Chicago.

Last week 14 alderman attempted to pass a bill that would eliminate all red light and speeder cameras by 2018. Though the bill failed, the Active Transportation Alliance is not taking any chances. They are pushing a new initiative called “Vision Zero,” which is based on the principles that no loss of life to traffic accidents is acceptable and that red-light cameras that serve as police force “multipliers” are pivotal tools that can prevent crashes.

Ron Burke, executive director of the Active Transportation Alliance, told the Sun Times Monday that he’s concerned the debate over red-light cameras has turned into a game of political football that could culminate in the loss of an “important traffic safety tool.”

He noted that, in 2012, there were more than 77,000 reported traffic accidents in Chicago, with 145 people killed and nearly 21,000 seriously injured.

“This is no time to throw the baby out with the bath water,” Burke said. “If it goes away all together, who’s gonna enforce these traffic laws? Who’s gonna be there when motorists are running red lights and putting people in danger?”

“The reality is that most cities don’t have enough police officers to enforce traffic laws. Photo enforcement is a great way to bridge that gap and effectively multiply the power of the police to enforce the law. If the cameras go away, it’s not likely that red lights are gonna be enforced anymore, or enforcement will be spotty, at best.”

I get where Mr. Burke is coming from here and I respect the mission and the efforts of the Active Transportation Alliance. But if you look deeply at the statistics of accidents since red light cameras were implemented in Chicago, you will see that there has been no “net” safety gain from these cameras. Yes, t-bone car crashes have decreased some, but rear-end traffic accidents have actually increased in the intersections where these cameras are located. What is the community benefit, other than money for the city, if the the cameras do not make intersections safer.

It will be interesting to watch what happens in the coming weeks and months. If Rahm Emanuel wins the election as expected, I do not see him putting an end to traffic cameras. He has steadfastly supported them since day one.

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

Rahm Emanuel Orders Removal Of 50 Red Light Cameras

After writing over the weekend that the Chicago mayor and city council should remove red light cameras, it was announced yesterday by multiple media outlets that the city would be removing fifty (50) red light cameras.

Red light cameras will be removed at the following locations:

• Ashland and 47th
• Ashland and 63rd
• Ashland and Archer
• Ashland and Diversey
• Ashland and Garfield
• California and 31st
• Central and Madison
• Cicero and Stevenson Expressway
• Cornell and 57th
• Cottage Grove and 95th
• Damen and Blue Island
• Elston and Foster
• Halsted and 63rd
• Halsted and 83rd
• Harlem and Northwest Highway
• Jeffrey and 79th
• Kimball, McCormick and Lincoln
• Narragansett, 55th and Archer
• Osceola and Touhy
• Pulaski and Montrose
• Stony Island and 83rd
• Vincennes and 111th
• Western Ave and 51st
• Western, Armitage and Milwaukee
• Western and Pratt

According to the mayor’s office the removals come as a result of a review of crash data performed by CDOT. Regardless, Mayor Emanuel is not backing down from his overall stance on red light cameras. “Red light cameras help reduce the most dangerous (car) crashes and allow police officers to concentrate on fighting crime, not writing traffic violations, and public trust is vital for this program to be effective,” said Mayor Emanuel.

I believe this is a positive first step regarding driver and pedestrian safety within busy Chicago intersections. If these cameras are viewed to have no net safety impact, then there is no reason to leave cameras in these intersections. I continue to believe that all the red light cameras should be removed because studies have shown that they can make intersections more dangerous. Regardless, I applaud the mayor for taking this initial step.

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