This week’s legislative action on red light cameras was a step in the right direction.
Now, the Illinois Senate needs to do its part to pass the law.
On Wednesday, the Illinois House approved a bill sponsored by state Rep. David McSweeney, R-Barrington Hills, that would eliminate red light cameras in non-home rule communities. Some cameras, such as those in Algonquin and Lake in the Hills, will remain under this legislation.
The vote wasn’t even close, 79-26. McSweeney was joined by other state Reps. Steve Andersson, R-Geneva; Jack Franks, D-Marengo; Mike Tryon, R-Crystal Lake; and Barb Wheeler, R-Crystal Lake, in supporting the bill.
Now state Sen. Dan Duffy, R-Lake Barrington, will pick up sponsorship of the bill, which wouldn’t go into effect until Jan. 1, 2017, in the Senate.
The reason this bill is important is that too many communities are abusing the cameras, which have become more about raising revenue than keeping people safe.
Yes, it’s important for drivers to follow traffic signals and come to complete stops before making turns.
The problem is that there are too many $100 fines handed out for the wrong reasons, such as not stopping long enough or in the exact spot.
Some communities, such as Lakemoor, are using the red light cameras as key revenue components to make the village run. At the intersection of Routes 120 and 12 in Lakemoor, more than 30,000 red light camera tickets were issued last year. The $1.8 million generated accounted for 38 percent of the village’s entire revenue.
Fox River Grove is similar, with 7,600 tickets issued last year. Its red light camera at Routes 22 and 14 brought in almost $442,000 in ticket revenue in 2014. The cost to losing the cameras would be road repairs, according to Fox River Grove’s village president.
The reality is if communities are relying on these cameras for revenue rather than safety, then priorities and budgets are in the wrong places anyway.
Red light cameras should be part of the solution to driving safely, not a fundraising tool.