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.

DNA Info Website Produces Fascinating Information On Chicago Speed Cameras

The fantastic website, DNA Info Chicago, published an interesting article about the statistics on Chicago’s speed cameras since 2013.

First a little background on Chicago’s red light cameras. The ordinance went into effect in 2013 and authorized the city to ticket drivers traveling 6-10 mph over the posted limit  with a $35 fine. Violators traveling 11 mph over are fined $100.  The speed cameras planted near parks are active when the parks are open, generally from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily and have a 30 mph speed limit. In school zones, the cameras are on from 7 a.m to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday when school is in session. The speed limit differs from 20 to 30 mph, depending on if children are present in the area.

The article revealed that of the 146 cameras around the city, only 21 (or 1/8) produced the majority of the $58 million the city has collected in fines since the program began in 2013.

The busiest 21 cameras are spread across the city, with 11 on the South Side, seven on the North Side and three on the West Side.The most productive camera can ring up more than $7,000 in fines a day, on average .

The busiest cameras tend to be on stretches where drivers feel comfortable letting loose. The top four revenue-producing cameras, for example, are found on long stretches of open road, sometimes near expressways or industrial areas, with little cross traffic.

I think this information is very interesting because the city has touted the speed cameras as a public safety ordinance, to help protect children and pedestrians in park and school areas. Yet, according to these statistics, the majority of tickets are issued in wide open thoroughfares with very little congestion. Areas that you would assume would have the most of the cameras would be focused on these dense areas. Yes, we all realize that speeding is a leading cause of car accidents and traffic fatalities. In fact, I posted a quote yesterday from the Illinois State Police that said 40% of all traffic fatalities in Illinois were caused by speeding. But, are these cameras actually effective and preventing speeding in areas that require them the most? This article leads us to answer no.

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.

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.

Chicago Sun Times Publishes Editorial On Traffic Cameras

The Chicago Sun-Times published an editorial yesterday stating that red light and speed cameras should only be used if they make our streets safer. “If red-light and speed cameras don’t have the trust of law-abiding motorists, the program is not being administered properly. Whoever is the next mayor should ensure Chicago streets are as safe – and as fair to motorists – as possible.”

I think we all agree with what the Sun-Times staff has pontificated. If red light cameras and speeder cameras save lives, then they should remain intact. If not, then they should be removed.  The problem with the editorial and with the red light cameras is that they do not actually make our streets safer for both drivers and pedestrians. The Chicago Tribune study that I have discussed over and over concluded there is a zero net impact on the red light cameras. T-bone car crashes are down but rear-end traffic accidents actually increased 22% since the cameras have been installed. If we believe the study to be true, then red light cameras should be removed. They are not preventing auto accidents overall and are not making our intersections safer.

On the other hand, speeder cameras are still fairly new. Mayor Emanuel installed them within the last two years and I have to see any data or studies as to their net effect on public safety. On their face, speeder cameras make sense. Why shouldn’t the city do what they can to prevent speeders from barreling through school zone and city park areas? But if there is no overall decrease in car accidents and pedestrian accidents, then I believe it should be questioned whether the speeder cameras should remain.

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.

Chicago Mayor’s Motorcade Racks Up Multiple Red Light Camera Infractions

This latest news report is too good to pass up. It is actually funny when you think about it. Red light and speed cameras are an issue that Mayor Rahm Emanuel has touted the last several years and has continuously stated that they are implemented as a safety issue, not a money maker. Well, WGN News reported a few weeks back that Mayor Emanuel’s motorcade has been caught running through red light cameras five (5) times since November 2014. The mayor’s response to these tickets: “Since there’s a tail car, there are some instances where they need to get through a light because they can’t get separated from the first car.”

I will give the mayor credit for stating that he is going to pay the tickets.  “I said I was gonna pay it, that’s what it means when you’re not above the law. That couldn’t be clearer.”

The reason I’m posting this and why I find it so amusing is that Emanuel has repeatedly stated that red light cameras are here to protect drivers and pedestrians. Yet, he seems ok with letting his driver knowingly and purposely ignore red lights. Luckily know auto accidents have resulted from any of this red light violations. Mayoral candidate and current Alderman, Bob Fioretti, has stated that he is going to submit legislation in April that would ban red light cameras. I wonder what Mayor Emanuel’s response will be at that time.

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

Chicago Tribune Study: Red Light Cameras Do Not Decrease Car Accidents

The Chicago Tribune commissioned an independent study with Texas A&M University professors to determine whether Chicago’s red light cameras actually make busy intersections safer for drivers.

The study, which confirms earlier studies by Texas A&M, concluded that the cameras make very little overall difference regarding traffic accidents.  The study, which accounted for declining traffic accident rates in recent years as well as other confounding factors, found cameras reduced right-angle crashes (t-bone accidents) that caused injuries by just 15 percent.  At the same time, the study calculated a corresponding 22 percent increase in rear-end crashes that caused injuries, illustrating a trade-off between the cameras’ costs and benefits.

“The biggest takeaway is that overall (the program) seems to have had little effect,” said Dominique Lord, an associate professor at Texas A&M University’s Zachry Department of Civil Engineering who led the Tribune’s study.  “So the question now is: If we eliminate a certain type of collision and increase the other and overall it stays the same, is there an argument that it is fair to go with the program?” Lord said. “That is a question that I cannot answer.  “Just the elected officials can answer for that.”

So there is the million dollar question. If there is no safety benefit, and merely an economic one, should the city continue with its’ red light camera program? Mayoral candidate, Alderman Bob Fioretti, stated last month that he would do away with the program and plans on submitting an ordinance in April. What will Mayor Emanuel do? He has yet to respond.

If you or someone you love has been injured in a Chicago car accident or Chicago truck accident, then call Chicago personal injury lawyer, Aaron Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 312-588-3384.

Chicago Alderman Calls For End To Red Light Cameras

I’m not sure how I missed this last week, but Chicago Alderman and 2015 mayoral candidate, Bob Fioretti, has called for the end of red light cameras in the city. According to the great website, dnainfo.com, Fioretti said at a news conference at City Hall in December that he would submit local ordinance that would put an end to red light cameras.  “The majority of red-light cameras do little to create safety,” Fioretti said, citing a Texas A&M study showed they might help reduce so-called T-bone crashes of cars crossing in the intersection, only to increase rear-end, same-direction collisions involving cars either speeding up or slowing down at a yellow light.

He also said they were riddled with corruption and cited how the city ended its relationship with the original camera firm, Redflex, in a case that found city and company officials charged with federal crimes, with one already having pled guilty.

“The entire program is fraught with failed oversight, corruption and unfair enforcement,” Fioretti added.

According to this article Chicago has the largest traffic camera program in the country with 350 red-light cameras and 130 speed cameras.

This is quite a development as I have written on this blog over and over again that red light cameras do not make our intersections safer. In fact, as Alderman Fioretti pointed out, some studies have claimed that they make intersections more dangerous because drivers are timid and often stop short when they should drive through.

I have not seen a response from Mayor Emanuel on this issue but I seriously doubt he would pull the plug on traffic cameras at this point. City Transportation Commissioner Rebekah Scheinfeld defended the cameras in a statement: “The act of running a red light is against the law and can have disastrous and life-altering consequences including serious injury or death,” she said. “Traffic safety is a serious and important issue, and red-light enforcement cameras play a key role in helping to improve public safety.”

I have not decided who I am going to vote for next month but this is an issue I will definitely keep in mind before going to polls.

If you or someone you love has been seriously 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.