Daily Herald
Red-light cameras not going anywhere in Wheeling
By Sheila Ahern | Daily Herald Staff
Published: 7/27/2010 12:00 AM

Despite the public backlash going on in other towns, Wheeling is standing by its two red-light cameras, located at Wheeling and Palatine roads and Milwaukee Avenue and Dundee Road.

While a couple Wheeling trustees want to yank the cameras, most point to the drop in accidents as proof they're working. The $500,000 in added revenue from the cameras doesn't hurt either.

Earlier this month, Trustee Dean Argiris said he'd like to see the cameras removed, saying they do more harm than good and have "big brother" implications.

"Palatine (at) Wheeling is a nightmare during rush hour because no one wants to turn," Argiris said. "I think the cameras were a great experiment but we need to find another way to get the revenue."

Trustee Pat Horcher agreed with Argiris, but the rest of the board prefer the cameras stay. They were installed in April 2009 and since then they have earned almost $500,000 for the village's general fund.

"I can't believe I'm saying this, but I think they are making drivers more aware," said Trustee Ken Brady. "They are doing the work of police without having to take an officer off the streets."

Trustee Robert Heer said he hasn't heard very many complaints from residents about the cameras.

"If we go public and remove them people will say, 'Let's speed through Wheeling,'" Heer added.

According to Wheeling police statistics, after the cameras was installed at Wheeling and Palatine roads, accidents went down 42 percent from 1.05 a week to 0.61 accidents a week. Accidents went down 18 percent at Milwaukee Avenue and Dundee Road from 0.46 a week to 0.38, according to the Wheeling Police Department.

"A lot of concern (with red-light cameras in general) has been from people who say cars are slamming into each other trying to avoid turning right on red," said Wheeling Police Chief Bill Benson. That's not happening here."

Only 13 percent of those who get the $100 tickets live in Wheeling. The majority - 87 percent - are drivers passing through town, Benson said.

"We are not hiding them, we're not trying to be shy," he said. "There are signs (telling drivers about the cameras) at each intersection and when people enter Wheeling."

Benson will give a full report on Wheeling's red-light cameras at the Aug. 9 village board meeting, which will be televised on local cable.