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updated: 2/16/2010 11:50 AM

Anti red-light legislation faces key test today

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  • A proposal to end red-light camera enforcement is expected to be introduced today by State Sen. Dan Duffy of Lake Barrington.

      A proposal to end red-light camera enforcement is expected to be introduced today by State Sen. Dan Duffy of Lake Barrington.
    George LeClaire | Staff Photographer

 
By Timothy Magaw

SPRINGFIELD - One suburban lawmaker hopes to eradicate most red-light cameras in the state, which he said wrongfully target hundreds of Illinois drivers who made legal right-hand turns, and his proposal to that effect gets a first airing in the legislature today.

State Sen. Dan Duffy, a Lake Barrington Republican who proposed legislation to end camera enforcement, said red-light cameras exist solely to generate revenue and their enforcement is inconsistent.

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"Camera companies are setting up mini-franchises on every corner, and they can make money on every person driving through the intersection," Duffy said.

If his proposal becomes law, red-light cameras could still be stationed in construction zones and railroad crossings, but nowhere else.

Duffy's proposal, which is scheduled for debate in a Senate committee today, comes on the heels of legislation proposed by state Sen. John Millner, a Carol Stream Republican, that would rewrite the current red-light camera law.

Millner's proposal, which is backed by suburban police chiefs, would mandate that red-light cameras be painted yellow and signs be installed to remind drivers they must stop on red.

Duffy characterized Millner's push to reform the red-light camera law as "worthless."

"This piece of legislation is acting like they're doing something about it when they're doing absolutely nothing," he said.

Meanwhile, Duffy isn't the sole critic of red-light cameras. State Sen. Rickey Hendon, a Chicago Democrat, proposed legislation that would strip police of the power to ticket drivers caught on camera for stopping one foot or less past the point where a driver is required to by law.

Duffy said he wrongly received a ticket from a red-light camera in Schaumburg. He said he stopped behind the line and inched forward before making a turn because a utility box obstructed his view. He said he wanted to fight the ticket but said it would have cost more than $1,000 to fight the $100 ticket.

The Daily Herald investigated the phenomenon of red-light cameras cropping up across the suburbs in a series of stories last summer.

Research showed that most of the $100 tickets were being issued to people turning right on red, a maneuver safety experts consider less hazardous than barreling straight through. The newspaper also found that in many cases, cameras were installed or planned at intersections with zero or a minimal number of crashes related to running red lights.

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