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.

City Of Chicago Files Suit Against Red Light Camera Company

The Chicago Tribune reported last month that the city of Chicago has filed a lawsuit asking for $300 million against Redflex, the red light camera company that profited due to a $2 million bribery scheme.

The 20-page lawsuit seeks triple the $124 million Redflex collected on the Chicago contract both before and after it was fired by Mayor Rahm Emanuel amid the scandal, as well as a civil penalty of up to $10,000 for each time the company made a false statement to the city. The lawsuit details an alleged conspiracy in which Redflex executives teamed up with former city official, John Bills, to orchestrate cash payments to him through a consultant acting as a bagman, as well as providing Bills with vacation trips, computers, golf outings and other perks. In exchange, according to the lawsuit, Bills coached Redflex on how to beat its competitors, orchestrated key votes at City Hall, manipulated field tests to favor the company, covered up problems with Redflex’s performance and cost taxpayers millions by encouraging city officials to buy Redflex cameras instead of leasing them.

“Had the City known that these statements were false, the City would have canceled the contracts with Redflex,” the suit alleges. “The City suffered damages in reliance of Redflex’s false statements that it had not engaged in bribery or attempted to bribe any employee of the City.”

The lawsuit is actually an intervention of an existing whistle-blower lawsuit filed by former Redflex executive Aaron Rosenberg, in Cook County Circuit Court last year.

I guess this is an attempt by the city to wipe some of the egg of their face as it was their own employee that was in the middle of the bribery scheme. How is it no one from city hall knew that this was going on at the time that the contracts for red light cameras were being bid on. I hope the city can recoup some of their money but this seems like too little too late for a program that has been drenched in controversy since day one. Not only was Redflex operating under fraudulent circumstances, but the entire purpose of the program has been called into question as it is not clear there is a safety benefit to red light cameras. I will be interested to learn what happens with this lawsuit.

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

Missouri Supreme Court Rules On Red Light Cameras

The Kansas City Star reported this week that the Missouri Supreme Court ruled on the penalty portion of red light cameras throughout the state. Previously, red light camera tickets were treated similar to parking tickets. A violator was mailed their ticket and forced to pay the fine but points were not assessed to their driver’s license. In their recent ruling, the Court held that the violations should be considered moving violations. So the red-light camera company serving many Missouri cities said that the cameras would have to capture the driver’s photo, something their technology allows them to do. In addition, the citation would result in points being taken off a license.

Like in Chicago, many in Kansas City and St. Louis believed that the cameras did not improve safety at busy intersections. According to the Star the Kansas City Police Department prepared a report in May 2012, which concluded that the red-light cameras had positively affected driver behavior, resulting in fewer violations and fewer wrecks at those intersections. The cameras in a few instances also provided video evidence to help solve violent, gun-related crimes.

No such report has been made here in Chicago. In fact, a study done by Texas A&M researchers revealed that intersections with red light cameras actually increased the number of rear-end car accidents, while decreasing the number of t-bone time traffic accidents. The study concluded that their was a zero net safety benefit from red light traffic cameras.
It is unclear at this point whether the Illinois Courts will follow suit with Missouri by ruling that red light tickets will be considered moving violations.
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

Lyons Township High School Adding Traffic Light & Pedestrian Crossing

The Chicago Tribue reported this week that the town of Willow Springs has decided to add a traffic light and pedestrian crossing at Lyons Township high school located on Willow Springs Road.

Western Springs officials say the traffic light will make the area safer for motorists and pedestrians for both park and school traffic. A pedestrian crossing has also been installed at Mason Drive.

“It’s been a long time coming, and it is good to finally see this come to fruition,” said Village Trustee Sheila Hansen.

This isn’t the first safety initiative in Willow Springs recently. They have worked alongside the town of Lagrange to improve safety for drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists.

An intergovernmental agreement was signed by the two villages, the park and school districts back in November 2012 that outlined the need for the project. A traffic corridor study was also conducted from 47th Street to Adventist La Grange Hospital between the villages of La Grange, Western Springs and the school district at a shared cost of $18,500, La Grange officials said.

The total cost of the project was listed at $416,000 after bidding last fall, according to budget numbers from the village of La Grange, with $376,000 in federal Surface Transportation Program grant funding, and a $90,000 grant from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. The project includes reconfiguration of internal roadways and drop-off and pick-up procedures within the LTHS campus, alignment of the driveway entrances at Denning Park with the proposed signal at LTHS, installation of east-west sidewalk through Denning Park to connect to existing neighborhood sidewalk system, an enhanced crosswalk at Mason Drive and Willow Springs Road, and enhanced school speed zone signs with flashing yellow beacons, according to the proposal approved by the village of La Grange, the lead agency for the project.

It is good to see these suburban communities working together, which will hopefully prevent future accidents. I think it is interesting to see that this initiative did not include any talks about red light cameras or speed cameras that, as we all know, are scattered across Chicago.

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.

Class Action Status Sought In Lawsuit Against Iowa Traffic Light Company

It was widely reported this week that two (2) women in Iowa have a filed a lawsuit seeking class action status against Gatso USA, which runs the traffic cameras in Des Moines.

The lawsuit says the city’s use of speed and red-light cameras violates their fundamental right to travel granted in the U.S. and Iowa constitutions. It also says it entraps drivers in numerous ways, such as the threat of suspending a driver’s license because a ticket has not been paid.

Earlier this week, the Iowa Department of Transportation found that 10 of Iowa’s 34 traffic enforcement cameras should be shut down because they are not making roads safer. Among those to be shut off are speed cameras located on Interstate Highway 235 in Des Moines, where both Brooks and Bullock have received speeding tickets.

The argument over the constitutionality of red light cameras was heard by the Illinois Supreme Court last summer and the court was split on its’ decision. Thus, the red light cameras remains constitutional in Illinois. 

A class action lawsuit was filed in Illinois last year against Redflex, which is alleging that the company was unjustly enriched by money they made through their contract with the city of Chicago. Redflex employees, along with a city employee, were indicted and charged with fraud based on bribes paid by Redflex to secure the contract. Although different, there is no doubt that citizens and attorneys throughout the country are frustrated with traffic cameras and are looking at every possible avenue to have them terminated.

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

Former Redflex CEO And Chicago Transportation Official Indicted On Federal Charges

Both the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun Times reported last week that Karen Finley, the onetime CEO of Redflex, John Bills, a former Chicago city official, and one of Bills’s friends are  facing charges of wire fraud, mail fraud, bribery, and conspiracy to commit bribery, with Bills also facing a charge of conspiracy to commit extortion. The charges have been filed in Federal Court in the Northern District of Illinois.

Finley, who was CEO of Redflex until February of 2013, allegedly passed bribes to Bills via Bills’s friend, Martin O’Malley, in exchange for Bills’s help in receiving the red light camera contracts. Those contracts eventually led to $124 million going to Redflex, the Sun-Times said.

Last February, the city chose to block Redflex from bidding on on further traffic camera contracts, in the wake of the scandal, and eventually it chose a Xerox unit as the new red light camera operator.

This should not come as a surprise as both Redflex and Bills have come under scrutiny since last year when it was determined that alleged corruption was involved in the bidding process. As a wrote several weeks back, Redflex has also been named as a defendant in a class action lawsuit alleging that they were unjustly enriched from money they received as the red light camera operator because it was alleged that the contract was received through bribery. This is just another example of how controversial red light cameras have become in Chicago. There are some critics out there, including myself, that believe red light cameras do not actually make intersections safer and are merely a money grab by the city. I will be following the class action lawsuit closely along with the federal charges.

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

9,000 Red Light Ticket Recipients Will Receive Chance To Appeal

I wrote recently about the Chicago Tribune investigative article about abnormal spikes in red light camera tickets at various locations around the city. This story made news headlines around the country. The City Council responded last week with a hearing on the issue and announced that they were going to give ticket recipients a chance to appeal.

At a hearing of the City Council Committee on Pedestrian and Traffic Safety, Transportation Commissioner Rebekah Scheinfeld said the city’s Finance Department will send letters to approximately 9,000 motorists who were issued a red light camera. Those people will be invited to get a new review of their case, and if it’s found the violation was an error, they’ll get a refund.

At the hearing, Commissioner Scheinfeld did come to the defense of how the red light cameras work and that there could be explanations for some of the spikes in tickets:

“It is important to note that there are always spikes in any automated enforcement system due to fluctuations in traffic volume and driver behavior where cameras are located. For example, if a street is closed for construction, increased traffic flow on an adjacent street or alternate route might drive up violations for a period of time during that construction. The occurrence of special events or severe weather can also create significant changes in traffic patterns,” she added.

In particular, she noted one spike cited by the Tribune — at 119th and Halsted in May and June 2011 — appeared to be the result of a project to repair the 111th Street and 115th Street bridges over Interstate 57. Shcheinfeld said the city believes drivers likely used Halsted to bypass the construction work by exiting I-57 at 99th and Halsted, then heading south to 119th Street to get back on the interstate.

I have called into question the validity of red light tickets from the beginning. Both former Mayor Daley and now Emanuel have stated over and over that the red light cameras (and speed cameras) are used for safety purposes. I have written in the past and still believe that this is a ruse and merely money grab by the city. There have been studies around the country concluding that red light cameras actually make intersections MORE dangerous because drivers stop quickly and increase the chance of a car crash. You can read one particular study here.

Now we learn that thousands of these tickets may have been erroneously issued. Prior to that we learned that Redflex, the company that handled the speeder cameras, bribed their way into their contract with the city. This lead to a class action lawsuit against Redflex for being unjustly enriched for the work done for their city based on illegal bribes. I have to ask, when to we finally call for end to these types of tickets?  I have to give the city some credit for at least recognizing the possible errors here and the potential for ticket recipients to be refunded their money.

If you or someone you know has been seriously 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.

 

IIHS Study Shows Red Light Cameras Are Working

 I have written on this blog multiple times about red light cameras and whether they actually make intersections safer for drivers and pedestrians. There have been studies and critics have stated in the past that the cameras are money grab for local governments and that they don’t actually decrease the number of car accidents.

 Well, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (“IIHS”) recently completed a study in Arlington Virginia, which concluded that these cameras are actually decreasing the number of red light infractions. The study found found that red light running rates declined at Arlington, Va., intersections equipped with cameras. The decreases were particularly large for the most dangerous violations, those happening 1½ seconds or longer after the light turned red. “This study provides fresh evidence that automated enforcement can get drivers to modify their behavior,” says Anne McCartt, senior vice president for research at IIHS and the study’s lead author.

 To calculate how the cameras affected violation rates, researchers at the Institute, which is located in Arlington, videotaped traffic during the warning period, a month after ticketing began and again after a year. In addition to the four camera-enforced intersections, videotaping was done at four other intersections in Arlington — two on the same corridors where cameras were located and two elsewhere — to see if there was any spillover effect from the cameras. Four control intersections in neighboring Fairfax County, which does not have a camera program, also were observed.

One year after the start of ticketing, the odds of a red light running violation at the camera locations went down. Violations occurring at least 0.5 seconds after the light turned red were 39 percent less likely than would have been expected without cameras. Violations occurring at least 1 second after were 48 percent less likely, and the odds of a violation occurring at least 1.5 seconds into the red phase fell 86 percent.

Although this is a small sample size in one town in a few specific intersections, the findings are encouraging. I am still skeptical that red light cameras actually make intersections safer. I would like to see a few more studies outside of Arlington and maybe by an organization other than the IIHS before we can determine that red light cameras are a deterrent and do reduce auto accidents.

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

Illinois Dept. Of Transportation Lists Chicago 20 Most Dangerous Intersections

The Chicago Tribune recently
published an article regarding Illinois Department of Transportation’s list of
the 20 most dangerous intersections in the Chicago metro area. That list can be
viewed here.  

The obvious theme at all of these
intersections is clear: The more traffic at each of these intersection equates
to more traffic accidents. The question remains as to what can be done to
improve the safety at each of these intersections. There doesn’t seem to be a
clear consensus by experts or lawmaker.  “There’s a whole host of factors
that need to be studied before any changes can be made,” , Illinois Department of Transportation spokesman
Guy 
Tridgell . “If you’re adding existing controls or signals
at one intersection, you could see negative impacts elsewhere.”

“The No. 1 thing a motorist can do is obey the speed limit,
traffic signs and signals and just always be aware of the presence and
vulnerability of pedestrians and cyclists, everywhere in the city,” said
Amanda Woodall, policy expert with the Active Transportation Alliance.

In 2007, red light cameras were installed to help make the
intersections safer. As I have discussed on this blog in the past, there are
mixed reviews on the red light cameras.  The city of Chicago has claimed
that car accidents are down on areas where the cameras have been installed.
Independent studies have said the opposite. Their studies conclude that
intersection with red light cameras are actually more dangerous than before.

At least the data is available and the department of
transportation can study what is making these specific intersections more
dangerous than others (other than the heavy volume of traffic). Hopefully
positive changes can be made.

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

Another Study Shows Red Light Cameras Are Not Working In Chicago

My Fox Chicago released a report about a new study that showed that red light cameras in Chicago may still not be deterring car accidents.

Despite press releases by the Chicago Department of Transportation touting the safety of these cameras, a new study prepared by the University of Illinois Chicago, says that the exact opposite has been happening.  Assistant Professor Rajiv Shah compared the total number of accidents the year before the cameras were installed and the year after. What surprised him most is that car accidents have declined city-wide, except at red-light intersections.  “The clearest thing is the red light cameras have not changed driving behavior in any significant pattern,” he said.

Brian Steele with the Chicago Department of Transportation argues Shah’s numbers are misleading. He claims IDOT’s numbers are disproportionately high because the state considers any crash within 250 feet of the traffic light to be an intersection accident.”There is no question that in the city of Chicago, drivers are safe because of red-light enforcement,” Steele said.

I am not convinced by the comments by the city. I think it is time for the city to wipe the egg off their face and admit that the red light cameras not only do not prevent accidents,  but they are actually making intersections more dangerous.

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