Daily Herald
Des Plaines mayor says council should revisit red-light cameras
By Madhu Krishnamurthy | Daily Herald Staff
Published: 7/17/2009 12:00 AM

Des Plaines Mayor Marty Moylan says he will ask the city council to review the use of red-light cameras at intersections after seeing new information revealed through a Daily Herald investigation.

This week's Daily Herald series "Seeing Red" raised questions about whether the nearly 84 cameras in 28 North, West and Northwest suburbs are located at intersections where they will improve safety or are placed where they would raise the most revenue.

A controversial aspect of the surveillance program is that the majority of tickets are for right-turns on red, a violation that is less dangerous than going straight through or turning left on red, experts say.

While Des Plaines doesn't have any cameras up at this time, officials had planned to install them after getting the results of a study of the city's top accident intersections.

"I think we have to revisit the whole idea of the camera program as it exists," Moylan said. "I don't know if we'd want to make adjustments or think about scuttling the whole program. (Newspaper reports) have been able to enlighten us to a lot of facts that may not have been known at the time."

The previous city council authorized the automated red-light camera enforcement program in April 2008. Last March, the same council selected Lombard-based vendor RedSpeed Illinois to administer the program. RedSpeed is presently studying accident data to determine which intersections are the most dangerous.

Moylan says he voted against red-light cameras as 2nd Ward alderman, but for the new council members "this is additional information that they have to take into consideration."

Des Plaines Police Chief Jim Prandini said safety has been the police department's top priority in determining which intersections should have red-light cameras.

The department provided RedSpeed a list of the top 20 accident-prone intersections.

"I want to proceed with (red-light cameras) as long as we're using them the right way and putting them at the intersections with the most accidents," Prandini said. "Police departments shouldn't be in the business of generating revenues and trying to balance your budget with stuff like this. This is a safety issue as far as I'm concerned."

Prandini said he believed all red-light violations cause accidents.

Moylan said he had thought red-light cameras would only ticket people going straight through red lights. But he wasn't ready to say RedSpeed or the police department should overlook motorists turning right on red without stopping.

"As mayor I can't tell people to break the law. We have to revisit the whole issue of the red-light camera operation and what it includes and doesn't include," he said.