Schaumburg Dumps Redlight Cameras After They Show No Safety Benefit

from the good-for-them dept

We’ve seen it in a few other places, but reader Don Gatza let’s us know that Schaumburg, Illinois is the latest city to dump its redlight cameras. The city found that, despite promises to the contrary, the redlight cameras did not decrease accidents (not even the “t-bone” accidents that proponents of such cameras insist they help combat). The city claims that even though a single intersection generated 10,000 tickets and over a million in revenue in just a few months, it’s going to drop the cameras, because “It was not our intent to use them as a revenue generator.” If only other communities were so enlightened.

Of course, there was a second potential factor in the decision as well. Apparently pissed off ticket recipients had been complaining and promising to stop shopping at Schaumberg businesses — leading local businesses to fear a loss in customers and revenue. Of course, this is the same thing that towns with notorious speed traps have found: people avoid going there, harming local businesses. Hopefully more local businesses start recognizing that giving out automated tickets that do nothing to improve safety also tend to harm local businesses as well. In the meantime, if officials want to improve safety in Schaumburg intersections, studies have shown that the best way to do so is rather simple: increase the timing of yellow lights, and then add a longer pause between one direction turning red, and the perpendicular traffic’s lights turning green.

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Comments on “Schaumburg Dumps Redlight Cameras After They Show No Safety Benefit”

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slacker525600 (profile) says:

Re: Sweet!

I think that commentary on the issue is unintentionally funny. In comparison to Mike’s solution of changing the timing on lights you address the economic situation in the area as a time in traffic concern.

Obviously there is an ideal way to time lights for economic advantage, such that the least time is wasted and the least accidents occur. But to do that you would need to take into account a very gray number of what percentage of people do not follow the law. And unfortunately the best way to get that number might actually be to have a camera sitting at every light and simply monitoring who runs yellow and red lights. I think it’s a bit of a catch-22, but somebody else may see things differently.

Rob (profile) says:

Re: Re: Sweet!

“And unfortunately the best way to get that number might actually be to have a camera sitting at every light and simply monitoring who runs yellow and red lights.”

Well — I will ignore the fact that I disagree with that being a good idea and simply point out to you that the lights were not being “simply monitored”, they were sending tickets out automatically in the mail. This is absurd and incredibly unjust, and a TERRIBLE way for the city to collect revenue, as only a small fraction of the revenue goes to the city.

For instance, I was issued a $270 speeding ticket last year (probably deserved that one, but that’s beside the point), followed by my insurance company tacking on a $400 surcharge for 6 years. That means that the total “revenue” garnered from me getting that ticket is an obscene $2,670, only $270 of which goes to the town. So the town collects their little fee, and then lets the insurance company charge me nearly 10 times more for getting the ticket! When towns start going out and giving tickets to generate revenue, they have to keep in mind that the people that they ticket are going to have to take on, in many cases, 10x the fee that they are charging. This is absolutely despicable and shows once again, that the government is not REALLY looking out for you (unless, of course you happen to live in Schaumburg, apparently).

hack says:

Re: Re: Re: Sweet!

he wasn’t suggesting they were only monitoring, but that a way to get info. is to monitor. He said it was a catch 22 what more do you want moron? Your second paragraph (written by you) is worthwhile the response to the prior is poorly thought out and a complete misreading of the prior comment.

Rob (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Sweet!

@hack — What? first of all teh grammerz. is terrible, in your post? you are apparently; not overly (familiar) with proper punctuation! or basic sentence structure as your post. makes no sense? Ack — writing as poorly as you is making my brain hurt.

Responding to the content of your post, do you even know what a Catch-22 is? Can you please explain to me how the situation in question presents a situation which creates two potential but paradoxically impossible outcomes (i.e. — the original Catch-22 — If you are insane, you cannot be allowed to fly in combat. However, if you actually want to fly in combat you must be insane and cannot fly. Conversely, if you don’t want to fly into combat you must be sane and therefore must fly) I can’t see how that is a Catch-22 at all to begin with, but that is irrelevant. I was pointing out that slacker was missing the point, that we were talking about cameras being used for automated ticketing rather than cameras being used for monitoring. Apparently you are the one missing the point.

Anonymous Howard, Cowering says:

Re: Re: Re: Sweet!

@Rob (#3):

By what twisted reasoning do you make a connection between a red light camera fee and your insurance company raising your individual rate?

Does your local municipality offer vehicle insurance to individuals, or regulate insurance companies? If not, how can you lump the two amounts together? The $270 to the town was for the infraction (and being stupid enough to do it where someone was watching). The $2400 surcharge over 6 years was because you proved yourself to be a bigger risk with a much higher probability of the insurance company having to pay out.

Lumping the two together is like trying to sell your used car for the amount you originally paid, plus the cost of all the maintenance and fuel you put into it while you owned it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Sweet!

By what twisted reasoning do you make a connection between a red light camera fee and your insurance company raising your individual rate?

I think there’s a very good possibility the insurance company told him that the increase was due to the ticket. Most insurance companies will raise rates on people who get tickets.

Does your local municipality offer vehicle insurance to individuals, or regulate insurance companies?

I don’t know about Rob, but my state regulates auto insurance fees.

The $2400 surcharge over 6 years was because you proved yourself to be a bigger risk…

He got a ticket, but that alone doesn’t prove that he’s a worse risk than someone who didn’t. My family took my grandmother’s keys away from her after she got dementia even though she never got a red light ticket. I don’t see how Rob’s ticket proves him a worse driver than my grandmother.

In states where auto insurance rates are regulated (all?), the companies look for permitted excuses to raise rates above the standard ones. They probably only raised his rates for 6 years for that ticket because that’s all the state would allow.

Different View (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Sweet!

Um, Rob (#3), I thought that the red light tickets are not reported to insurance companies. Could it be your ticket was issued by an on-site officer and that’s how you got nailed? And that is no different than anywhere else where insurance companies rate their driver’s risks based on behavior. Good behavior warrants better rates.

And about Schaumburg in general, I find it amusing that the City didn’t know that most of the violations would be right turns and now they want out. Seems to me the City was looking for the revenue but failed to conduct a traffic study to assess the problem. So it’s both the vendor and City failed to research the situation and then caved to local pressures. What a great example of bad planning.

Rob (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Sweet!

And sometimes it is simply an unreasonable red light — I don’t think that there is any reason that I need to be sitting at a red light for 2 minutes when it is 3 o’clock in the morning and I can clearly see that there are no other cars coming within a mile. Better traffic sensors? Better software controlling the lights? No, let’s just throw a camera up there and make the yellow light shorter so we can give out more tickets!

Dark Helmet (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Sweet!

“Why not abandon all attempts at enforcing the law, especially if enought people gripe and threaten to hurt the economy if the cities don’t stop it.”

This seems like a question of mentality. What is yours? Because it sounds to me like you want to focus on punishing people that break the law.

I don’t care if people break the law, I care about stopping dangerous accidents and stopping people from breaking the law wasn’t the point of the cameras. It was to prevent accidents. Which it didn’t. How is removing them NOT a no-brainer?

Ryan says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Sweet!

“Breaking the law” in and of itself means shit. Laws are there for a reason, ostensibly for the benefit of the public; if a law does not serve that purpose, or if lax enforcement is sufficient to attain the benefit(caution near red lights in this instance), then there is no need to get draconian.

But since you want to take this to the extreme, we can’t ignore all the other violations–ticket everyone driving even 1 mph over the limit, every person who sets half a foot outside the designated crosswalk, barefoot drivers and Sunday dominoes players in Alabama, people using mules to hunt ducks in Kansas, etc…

Dark Helmet (profile) says:

Re: Re: Sweet!

My completely off topic point remains: Woodfield Mall is a shit stain on the West Suburbs and ought to be napalmed. Plus any civic engineer that thought it would be a good idea to place the mall that close to and on one of the main routes to O’Hare Airport should be dragged into the street and shot by people that have to sit on the Elgin/O’hare Expressway for 2 hours a day.

Troy A. Wilson Sr. (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Sweet!

I believe that the mall setting where it is, is exactly where it should be. There are several ways to get to it without encountering tons of traffic. It is accessible to people staying st hotels near the airport, for quick shopping while traveling. The traffic problems in that area are no worse than they are in any other section of the Chicago suburbs. I drive in that area daily. The major problem is O’Hare. There is so much traffic going to and from the airport that some alternate entrances and exits to the airport are in order.

Rebel Freek (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Sweet!

On the contrary, I also drive through that area daily and encounter tons of traffic mainly due to Woodfield and the shitty way the traffic patterns are set up around it(eastbound ramp from 90 to 290 is constantly backed up because not a single moron can figure out how to mergeor get off at that next ramp). It is because of these problems that I barely get on 90 or 290 except when I am heading out to Wisconsin.

As far as the extra airport entrance goes, thats why the Elgin-O’Hare was built in the first place, as a route to go directly into O’Hare from the west…

Shaumberg also shortened the lights to catch more speeders, my ex mother in law runs a trucking company and was getting tickets because her trucks didn’t have the time to stop

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Sweet!

And unfortunately the best way to get that number might actually be to have a camera sitting at every light…

Actually, the way that kind of information is usually acquired is by something traffic engineers call a “traffic survey” with actual observers, not red light cameras.

…and simply monitoring who runs yellow and red lights.

Identifying “who” probably has little bearing on “percentage”. Off hand, I can’t imagine why people’s identities should have anything to do with such an analysis and so such a claim just seems like an excuse for something else to me.

Dark Helmet (profile) says:

Re: Re: Sweet!

“Woodfield is small in comparison to other malls”

If by small you mean the 9th largest shopping center in ALL OF AMERICA, then yeah, it’s small.

“It’s not the mall’s fault”

I don’t think I said it was. The location of the mall is ideal from the mall’s perspective. The fact of the matter is that any civil engineer worth a penny could have foresaw what putting that mall that close to one of the busiest airports in the world was going to do to traffic. But, in typical west suburban fashion, they didn’t give a shit about anybody or anything but what was in their own municipality.

Chicago suburbs are notorious for being bad neighbors.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Sweet!

The fact of the matter is that any civil engineer worth a penny could have foresaw what putting that mall that close to one of the busiest airports in the world was going to do to traffic.

It probably wasn’t a civil engineer. It was probably the decision of the real estate developer who owned the land.

mjb5406 (profile) says:

Elk Grove Village

Now if only their neighboring suburb, Elk Grove Village, would either drop the cameras or at least adjust them properly. At many intersections they take a pic when you make legal right turns on red, and I know they send out a lot of tickets to people who make that legal move (the intersections are not posted “No Turn On Red”). So, they waste a lot of money sending out frivolous tickets.

hegemon13 says:

Re: Eco Alternative to Traffic Lights

“millions of motorists outside of the US can’t be wrong.”

Um, yes they can. Roundabouts around here are installed to deliberately SLOW the flow of traffic through residential areas.

Most other countries do not have the same type of traffic that the US has. Public transportation and alternative transportation is a lot more heavily used. Vehicles in European countries are much smaller, on average, and therefore more nimble in roundabouts. Roundabouts do not work well with a huge volume of larger personal vehicles whose drivers are always in a hurry, which is what we have in the US.

And, before you start criticizing Americans for not using public transportation, please realize that effective public systems don’t really exist in most cities. The auto industry bought and shut down most of them in the mid-1900s. They are starting to re-emerge, and hopefully someday I’ll be able to ride to work in something other than my car without adding a full 2.5 hours to my workday. (It’s a 20-minute drive to work. The only public transportation is a bus that stops a mile from my house, drops me off a mile from work an hour early, and picks me up a mile from work an hour late.)

Anonymous Coward says:

Arizona seems to think their primary source of income should come from cameras. We have red light and speed cameras at most intersections and our freeways have speed cameras every couple of miles on most of them. All in all not a big deal don’t break the speed limit and don’t run red lights and you’re fine. But there’s some sneaky areas where they will have the speed at 45 and then for no reason change it to 35 right before a camera. Those kind of speed traps is what makes me mad about the whole thing.

Big Mook (profile) says:

Memphis is going down this road

Just a few weeks ago, Memphis police director Larry Godwin announced in a press conference that red light cameras will be going up at the city’s most dangerous intersections.

Now, since Larry Godwin is as dumb as a bag of hammers, he probably believes in some small way they’re really doing something to make the city safer. But since Larry is also as sly as a fox, he knows that someone is going to get rich off of this, and he might as well take his piece of the action while he can.

I can guarantee that none of the dolts in the mayor’s office, the city council, or the police director’s office have any idea of the overwhelming evidence that these things don’t save lives or reduce accidents, and they don’t want to know.

dark says:

Schaumburg is really not bright. Why they want the redlights gone? Because the store owners are among those being ticketed for speeding. It has nothing to do with getting less business. If I am him, I will triple those lights. More money for healthcare and other important spendings that the government is cutting out on.

If people speeding generated 1 million plus in revenue, my god, they should put more up. Those speeding should pay for their wrongs and if the state is getting more money by trying to make highways safer, by all means do so and put more up.

minijedimaster (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I agree with Rob, you obviously haven’t a clue.

But that aside, you bring up the point “Those speeding should pay for their wrongs”

I think that if people want to “speed” over the posted speed limit then those people should be able to pay an up front tax on their registration to get a higher speed limit.

For instance, here in Illinois it costs me I think $78 per year for my vehicle registration sticker I put on my license plate. What if I could pay say, double, or $156 for the sticker and get a speed limit that is posted speed limit +10 or something like that. That way we can call it what it is, a TAX, not a “fine”. Just a rough idea that occurred to me the other day.

Andy (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Dark, you are the one who is not bright. 1. Schaumberg is a place not a person. 2. Statists like you need to understand why taking money by such means to spend inefficiently on so-called public services is a dumb idea.

Changing the subject, here in Finland (Europe) where I live, we have a huge problem with people running red lights. The reason? Long yellows, a long pause between lights turning red in one direction and green in the next, and long reds. Everything suggested as a solution in the article is KNOWN to contribute to exactly the problem you are trying to solve. Try again!!!

Brian Costin (user link) says:

Negligent Mayor Ignored Red Light Camera Warnings

If your interested to get the full back story on the Schaumburg Red Light Camera’s see this article.

Mayor Larson was repeatedly warned about the lack of safety benefits from red light cameras prior to installing by the Schaumburg Freedom Coalition and others. He only changed his stance once political pressure became too harsh.

James Gore says:

elk grove

tell elk grove to get with the program! sick of getting red light tickets for making a right turn on red. If you’re showing caution and treating it as a yield and your intent is to stop, but you need to see traffic to make your decision to turn or not, i don’t see how that should be a $100 ticket with the economy hit hard, all they are trying to do in that town is make money off of hard hit and hard working americans. Tell the cops to get off their lazy donut ridin asses and give out mor tickets, potrol more, earn your take home pay. Elk Grove has made driving no longer a privlidge.

enigmaforever (profile) says:

spy/speed cameras

It isn’t just about a violation. Why would a company want to have access to the ability to pull up plate numbers, and tell by simply entering license number, where that vehicle was at any time it passed any camera, even though the vehicles are not in violation of any laws, this goes on 24/7. If you passed any number of Redflex cameras going across the state or country even 6 months ago they can tell you where and when. Homeland security has a disclosed contract with Redflex to track American citizens. Pull up your plate number, and track you by a simple push of a button. Any Red light, highway, or in fact any surveillance camera any where in world you may drive. Who can get this information? No law stopping them from selling info to anyone, insurance co., spouses, enemies, detectives, and even the neighborhood stalker, or pedophile ( Post #: 749. “In June, Christopher Everette Jacobs, a Redflex employee in Longview, Texas was indicted on nine counts, including three of aggravated sexual assault, four of sexual performance by a child and two of possession or promotion of child pornography.”“He was kind of a computer expert,” said [Sheriff] McCool, noting he worked for the company that manages the traffic cameras for Marshall and Longview.” ..
Redflex cameras across the nation have had a strange virus which causes the traffic light they are at to shorten the time of the yellow usually to the 3 seconds required by federal law, but well below university study recommendations of 4.5. This does allow much more revenue for Redflex, and the cities, so when they say it is for safety, that is just a load of b.s.,. MPH Reaction Time Stopping Distance Total Distance 40 mph 44 feet 81 feet 125 feet Where Redflex cameras have shorten the yellow will someday kill if in fact they have not already done so. This is a company that touts safety but in fact many of their actions show that they care a whole lot more about revenue than protecting citizens./// Knoxville News Sentinel Co.”After 30 years with the Knoxville Police Department, 52-year-old Bill Roehl has opted for retirement, creating a vacancy in the post of deputy chief over the patrol division.Roehl leaves the Knoxville Police Department for a new full-time job with Redflex Traffic Systems///THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH “A Columbus City Council member whose committees oversee legislation dealing with road construction, red-light cameras and environmental issues borrowed money from a lobbyist whose clients are interested in the same topics” “refused to disclose the amount of the loan “. Akron Becon Journal–“City Council president criticizes William Healy II for contracts involving campaign contributors” “Schulman pointed to two contributions of $125 each on July 8 from individuals associated with Redflex Traffic Systems Inc. of Phoenix” By Gerry Smith Chicago Tribune Reporter July 15, 2009 After Carol Stream Police Chief Rick Willing recommended his town hire Redflex Traffic Systems, village officials approved a contract with the Arizona-based red-light camera vendor in December 2007. Less than a year later, Willing retired from the force and began working for Redflex.

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