Illinois Comptroller Is Opting The State Out Of Collecting Red Light Camera Fees

from the full-stop dept

We’ve discussed red light cameras many times in the past, most often to point out how they really aren’t great at providing any benefit in vehicle safety, but are quite good at filling up the coffers of local governments on the backs of motorists. Given that these are essentially profit centers run by governments that aren’t well suited to maximizing profits, the contracts for these red light cameras are typically outsourced to private interests. And if that seems like a recipe for rampant corruption… well… yeah. Everyone from judges to my beloved home city of Chicago has found themselves being investigated, and sometimes charged, with wild corruption as part of these red light camera contracts. Contracts that, again, don’t make anyone any safer.

It’s bad enough that the Illinois State Comptroller has decided to opt out of its duties to collect on red light camera fees entirely.

Since 2012, the Illinois Comptroller’s office has served as a sort of collection agency for communities that are trying to get motorists to pay their red-light tickets. The comptroller’s tool: Deducting the amount owed in outstanding tickets from state-income tax refunds due to the violators — with about $11 million collected this way on behalf of 60 Chicago suburbs in 2019 alone — and forwarding most of the take to the towns while keeping a small cut.

But with federal investigators looking into red-light contractor SafeSpeed over allegations of pay-to-play — amid revelations about politically connected sales representatives for the company landing juicy commissions — Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza said her agency will no longer perform this function.

To be honest, it’s more than a little sad that it takes clownish corruption to get the wheels of state government to stop bilking its own citizens with red light cameras, but at least it’s happening. Mendoza wasn’t done, however. She has also publicly stated that red light cameras are very much about revenue rather than safety, and went on to recommend to all of the Chicago suburbs that they all simply cease their red light camera programs.

“They should revisit their programs entirely,” Mendoza said. “I don’t think it’s good public policy and I think it’s time it ends.”

Yes, they should. We’ve been calling for this for years. Having traffic safety procedures that don’t have anything to do with safety and are instead cynical methods for putting money in public coffers seems like the kind of thing we shouldn’t do.

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Companies: safespeed

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Comments on “Illinois Comptroller Is Opting The State Out Of Collecting Red Light Camera Fees”

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13 Comments
fairuse (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Contracts do end. The trick is how everyone structured the non-renewal. All the tickets that are outstanding should be dismissed. I have watched red light cameras photograph R-on-Red-after-stop on cars that stopped and turned. Stupid.

Speed cameras in school zones are fine. In Maryland both kinds of photo tickets are pay up – no defense allowed.

Fun part is the tags on the violating car get ticket. DMV gets tags back if ticket is not payed.

McGyver (profile) says:

Get rid of them all

Initially “red light” cameras were not a bad idea, at least “technically”…
someone who blew a red light well after it had changed got a ticket as they should.
But it quickly went downhill… poor maintenance, wrong people getting tickets, improperly timed photos… what should have gotten better and fairer as technology improved, just got more and more revenue driven and flat out corrupt.
Right nearby there are several intersections that previous only experienced an occasional accident here and there, but are high volume traffic areas now hosting “red light” cameras… but only a few blocks away are much lower volume intersections that experience a collision almost every week… the majority of tickets generated by the cameras are not for blowing through the light, but for cars that don’t come to a complete stop before making a right turn.
It’s clear from the lack of interest in the low volume, but more dangerous intersections, that the cameras are there solely for revenue purposes.
Not to mention these devices can pose a nuisance to innocent drivers… I’m sure many of us have seen these cameras flash randomly when nobody is breaking the law.
I’ve seen several near accidents when the strobe flashed for no reason causing someone approaching the light to brake hard and almost get rear ended… in one case a car almost drove up on the curb with pedestrians on it because it swerved.
From my own observations, even when I still thought they might be a good idea, it’s clear to me they are more of a nuisance, an exploitation and a problem then any good they might serve.
If our politicians are so concerned about generating income for their districts, let them donate their salaries and “campaign contributions”.

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