State lawmaker pushing for online red-light camera data

Drivers facing a $100 ticket from a red-light camera could have a new tool to assess whether the device is preventing crashes or just generating revenue with little safety impact.

State Rep. David Harris this week introduced legislation to require statewide red-light camera crash data to be posted online.

The policy would require the Illinois Department of Transportation to develop a uniform reporting standard for red-light camera crash data that municipalities would need to use. The information should be reported annually and put online on IDOT's website, said Harris, an Arlington Heights Republican.

His move follows a Daily Herald analysis of 55 intersections across 29 suburbs that showed that crashes involving injuries went up or stayed the same after cameras were installed at nearly half of those locations.

"The real question is whether the cameras are used for safety or revenues," Harris said Tuesday. "I think there's a legitimate safety issue but it ought to be able to be shown. One way to determine that is through data.

"It's reasonable what we're asking for here ... we want to be able to have clear criteria."

The Daily Herald's investigation also found crashes considered hazardous by traffic experts - such as angle, turning, head-on and sideswipe (not rear-end) collisions - increased or remained the same on average at 23.5 percent of intersections after cameras arrived.

The analysis also found an inconsistent system of reporting crash data to IDOT and lack of public access to statewide data. For example, while some towns report injury crashes, others don't.

In addition, not every town posts red-light camera data on their websites. People looking for comprehensive information need to file Freedom of Information Act requests to the Illinois Department of Transportation, which keeps paper copies of reports.

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