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Senate president to review red light camera legislation
By Joseph Ryan | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 7/16/2009 4:29 PM | Updated: 7/16/2009 10:30 PM

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Senate President John Cullerton, who was a chief proponent of red-light cameras, says he plans to take a fresh look at the law and potentially ban sending out automatic violations for rolling through right turns.

Cullerton's comments come in response to the Daily Herald's "Seeing Red" investigative series that revealed how most of the money made by red-light cameras comes from right-turn violations, which experts say are not a significant safety concern, instead of the more dangerous straight-through violations.

Meanwhile, cameras are going up in the suburbs at some intersections where there are few crashes related to people running red lights.

Cullerton said Thursday on WBBM-AM 780's "At Issue" program that he was interested in the newspaper's findings and thought they warranted action because his intent with allowing the cameras was strictly to promote safety, not generate cash.

"I'm definitely going to look at that," Cullerton said of red-light camera reform. "This was not meant to be a trick."

But Cullerton was clear that he didn't feel sorry for drivers who rack up fines, because in the end he believes they have all broken the law.

Yet he did say the cameras should not be intended to nab drivers for offenses that are not causing a major safety hazard, such as rolling through a right turn at an intersection.

Cullerton said he wasn't sure what the reforms would finally say because he said changing the law is "tricky." The Chicago Democrat expressed concern that banning all right-turn violations from cameras would leave it open for drivers to fly around curves, endangering pedestrians.

Cullerton sponsored legislation authorizing the cameras back in 2006. The Daily Herald reported Thursday that numerous suburban lawmakers who once supported red-light cameras are now taking a second look and calling for reforms in light of the newspaper's findings.

The "At Issue" program will air at 9:30 a.m. and 9:30 p.m. Sunday on WBBM-AM 780.