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No statewide repeal of red-light cameras
By Timothy Magaw | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 3/3/2010 12:01 AM

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SPRINGFIELD - The future of one suburban lawmaker's proposal to repeal all existing red-light cameras appears grim, but changes could still be made to the controversial ticketing system.

State Sen. Dan Duffy, a Lake Barrington Republican, admitted he'll have to do "a lot of selling" to get others on board with his proposal to purge cameras from the state except in construction zones and railroad crossings, but he's confident he'll be able to work with colleagues to refine camera enforcement.

"By us pushing this issue and by the people speaking up and speaking their mind, we're going to have some real change this year," Duffy said.

Duffy's proposal was just one of five pieces of legislation regarding red-light cameras vetted during an exhaustive two-hour subcommittee hearing Tuesday evening in the Capitol.

Police officers, motorists, lawmakers and researchers all weighed in on the devices. Some told stories of red-light camera missteps while others credited a decrease in crashes to the cameras. Many of those testifying complained that enforcement varies from one community to another.

While no action was taken on any of the legislation, state Sen. Martin Sandoval, the committee's chairman, promised to move legislation aimed to fix problems if all the lawmakers with red-light camera legislation ironed out a compromise.

"A need for uniformity in the law, a need for minimum requirements - I'm all for that. I'm looking for a bill that speaks to that," said Sandoval, a Cicero Democrat.

Meanwhile, other proposals regarding the cameras included giving motorists more leeway at intersections, eliminating the ability to ticket for right turns on red and mandating red-light cameras be painted yellow and signs be installed to remind drivers they must stop on red.

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.

State Sen. Carol Pankau, an Itasca Republican, proposed barring communities from issuing the tickets to people making right turns on red. While she supports using cameras to catch people running red lights or making illegal left turns, ticketing drivers going right on red is purely about revenue, she said.

"I don't think anyone disagrees that if someone runs a red light, they should be cited," Pankau said. "That's where most accidents occur."

Also on Tuesday, the Missouri Supreme Court invalidated the red-light camera enforcement system used by Springfield, Mo. That state's high court said the hearing system in place there wasn't allowed under Missouri law.

• Daily Herald staff writer Marni Pyke contributed to this report.