Chicago Red Light Camera Violations Down Amid Coronavirus

Red light cameras have been a topic I have written about numerous times on this site. according to a personal injury lawyer the issue has been often criticized by the media and academics alike. The characters behind the contracts with the city of Chicago have been put in jail for fraud, all the while multiple studies have shown they bring almost no positive safety impact on the intersections where the lights are placed.

Prior to the Covid-19 pandamic outbreak, which led to a shelter-in-place throughout the state, the Illinois house of representatives passed a bill that would have outlawed red light cameras. That bill never had a chance to reach the Senate as the state legislature closed down like most businesses.

Regardless, red light cameras are still in effect in Chicago and throughout Illinois. The Chicago Sun Times reported last week that red light camera violations are down 45% in March compared to February 2020. And compared to March 2019, red-light violations in Chicago were down 54%, numbering just 19,840 in March 2020 compared to 42,812 in March 2019. “At this time, we are seeing a nationwide trend of fewer citations overall, driven by the lower amount of traffic on the roads,” said Neil Franz, a spokesman for Conduent State & Local Solutions Inc., the vendor that operates Chicago’s red-light cameras.This is no surprise as motor vehicle traffic is way down since the shelter-in-place order took effect in mid-march. I have not seen any numbers for April yet.

As I have written multiple times in the past, I do not see any benefit of red light cameras other than a money grab for local governments. Studies have been performed by engineers and traffic experts that conclude there is no beneficial safety impact for having red light cameras in place. What is the point of having these in place if they do not make our intersections safer? I hope that when the Illinois legislature is back in session (presumably this Fall), they take up this bill again and outlaw these cameras foreever.

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Over the past several years I have written numerous posts about the viability, corruption and safety concerns of red light cameras in and around Chicago. The red light cameras have been scrutinized by the press and scientific communities questioning whether they actually make intersections safer. In fact, a study by Texas A&M and the Chicago Tribune concluded that there was a net zero impact on the red light cameras in Chicago. This led many to conclude that the cameras were merely a money grab by the city.

Due recent corruption charges to various Cook County politicians, we may finally see a roll-back and possible elimination of red light cameras in Illinois. Cook County Commissioner Jeffrey Tobolski resigned from his position within the County and also his position as mayor of suburbon McCook. hicago Department of Aviation and former top Illinois Department of Transportation official, Bill Helm, was charged with one count of bribery. Both of these individuals apparently have ties to State Senator Martin Sandoval, who plead guilty to charges that he took $250,000 in bribes from SafeSpeed LLC. as the red-light traffic camera company’s protector in the Senate and to help ensure the company was able to install red-light traffic cameras in Chicago suburbs.

The Illinois Legislature has had enough of the corruption and have recently passed bills that would cut down on the use of red light cameras, and possibly completely ban them. House Bill 322 was approved 84-4. non-home-rule communities would not be allowed to install the cameras in the future and would be required to remove any currently operational cameras by the beginning of 2021. That means 45 of the 101 communities in the state with red-light cameras would be forced to remove them.

Senate Bill 2902, if passed, would eliminate red light cameras in entirely throughout the state of Illinois. This is the bill I would like to see passed. I am not sure where Governor Pritzker stands on these bills. Based on the past corruption and the questionable viability as a safety measure, I do no see how these cameras are still allowed to be used in this state. I hope our lawmakers do the right thing.

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New Red Light Cameras Added To Michigan Avenue In Downtown Chicago

Chicago’s busiest shopping district is the home of four (4) new red light cameras. The cameras were installed at North Michigan Avenue and East Ontario Street and South Michigan Avenue and East Jackson Boulevard.

The cameras will start ticketing drivers who run red lights starting on February 4. As I have written numerous times in the past, the red light cameras have undergone intense scrutiny. Class action lawsuits have been filed due to the effectiveness of the cameras and also based on the fraudulent circumstances the initial company the city used to install the cameras. Academic studies have been performed, which have concluded that the light have an overall neutral safety effect. In other words, they don’t actually reduce the number of accidents. The general public and media outlets have argued that the cameras are merely a money maker.

Regardless, despite all the controversy, the city is standing by the safety aspects touted by these cameras.   “I think over time you’re going to see more cameras placed downtown because we have a lot of (car) accidents, a lot of pedestrians issues, we have a lot of bike issues that are growing,” said Ald. Anthony Beale (9th Ward). “And so, this is the first step towards revamping the entire system.”

If one of these t cameras catch you driving through a red light, you will receive a $100.00 ticket. These tickets are not considered moving violations and will not affect your driving record.

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

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.

According to a personal injury attorney, while 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 a personal injury attorney.

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.

According to a personal injury attorney, a question that often pops up regarding speeder camera tickets is whether the video evidence can affect a car accident and personal injury 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 personal injury attorney who handles the case 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. If you are unfortunately involved in a car accident then make sure you get legal help from one of the best personal injury lawyers.

According to a personal injury attorney, 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, according to a personal injury lawyer, 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.