After almost a year of activity, it is not clear whether the red light cameras at the intersection of Golf and Rand roads improved safety.
Accidents at the intersection involving vehicles traveling east and west bound on Golf Road, the same traffic the cameras monitor, rose during the first year after installation. Eight accidents occurred between November 2010 and Sept. 1, 2011, up from two the year before that, said Deputy Police Chief Angela Burton.
Burton added that none of the eight accidents appeared to have been caused by the cameras. Red light cameras have been blamed for causing rear-end accidents when drivers suddenly brake when they see them.
The police department does not have any plans to install more red-light cameras at this time, Burton said.
“I don’t think they’re popular,” Burton said. “And if we can’t tie an improvement to safety to the cameras, then there’s no reason to move forward with other intersections.”
Burton said police do not look at red-light cameras as a revenue generator.
“We are in the business of safety, not generating revenue,” Burton said.
Burton said while accidents did rise in that time period, she thinks the cameras make many people, including herself, more aware of their driving habits when entering intersections with the camera signage.
In order to understand the cameras’ effect on safety, drivers that receive violations should also be surveyed, Burton said.
“This is something we need to keep looking at,” she added.
Other municipalities have been more experimental with their red light cameras. Elk Grove Village temporarily disabled a red light camera and found that the number of accidents at that intersection shot up, the Daily Herald reported.
Rosemont, which has red-light cameras at four intersections, saw accidents go down at those intersections, Rosemont Police Lieutenant Keith Kania said.
Kania said data collected by the police department showed accidents at River and Higgins roads went down 62 percent in 2010, and accidents at Mannheim and Higgins roads went down about 25 percent. Rosemont installed its first red-light cameras in 2007.
Before the red-light cameras were installed at River and Devon roads, there were fatal accidents, Kania said. Since the cameras were installed there have not been any fatal accidents at that intersection.
"We have significantly reduced accidents at our most accident-prone intersections," Kania said.
Tickets and Revenue
Red light cameras at the Golf and Rand roads intersection have generated about $280,000 from violations since becoming active in October 2010, said Dorothy Wisniewski, director of finance for Des Plaines.
The Des Plaines Police Department has handed out more than 7700 tickets for red light violations, Burton said.
Each ticket costs violators $100, and the city of Des Plaines keeps $65. RedSpeed Illinois, which installs and maintains red light cameras across the state, gets the other $35.
Burton said a Des Plaines police officer reviews all violations recorded by the cameras at Golf and Rand roads before tickets are sent to violators, something that’s often a misconception among drivers.
All of the tickets issued do not get paid. Some go to court, some go to contest by mail, and once viewed the violator could be found not liable, Burton said. Moreover, the process can take several weeks to cycle, and therefore the number of paid violations is lower than the number of issued violations.
Wisniewski said the city would likely use the money to purchase traffic safety supplies such as speed boards and speed bumps.