DeKalb Times

DeKalb Times

Monday, March 30, 2020

More than safety, financial gain and corruption are main contributions from state's red-light cameras


By Glenn Minnis | Feb 14, 2020

Former Illinois state Sen. Martin Sandoval (D-Chicago)

With the number and intensity of federal corruption probes rising, Illinois lawmakers are facing growing demands to shut down the state’s thriving red light-camera industry.

With investigations still unfolding, at least four people have already been convicted in connection with money-making schemes related to the spread of red-light cameras across Chicago and the entire state. Among them is former state Sen. Martin Sandoval (D-Chicago), who faces 13 years in prison after pleading guilty to bribery and tax offenses.

And Illinois Policy Institute (IPI) reports that could just be the tip of the iceberg, as the probes continue and involved parties such as Sandoval appear willing to cooperate with federal investigators.

Illinois state Rep. David McSweeney (R-Barrington Hills)

In all, IPI estimates that over a 10-year period culminating in 2018, red-light camera devices across the state garnered as much as $1.1 billion from drivers, or the equivalent of one $100 ticket every 33 seconds. Over that time, the number of cameras outside the Chicago has tripled to more than 300 and the annual revenues swelled to more than $56 million by 2018.

Not even increased amount of studies calling into question the safety benefits of the cameras has slowed their growth, including a 2017 Chicago Tribune report that detailed how more than half of camera projects approved by the Illinois Department of Transportation were at intersections previously defined as "safe." Illinois state Rep. David McSweeney (R-Barrington Hills) has now introduced a bill that would ban red-light cameras in non-home-rule communities.  

Currently, 11 states have laws prohibiting red-light cameras.

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