Daily Herald
Red-light camera is coming to Golf and Rand roads in Des Plaines
By Madhu Krishnamurthy | Daily Herald Staff
Published: 9/24/2010 12:06 AM

What you should know

Motorists will not receive a violation if:

• They enter the intersection on a green or yellow light which turns red before they complete their left turn;

• They come to a complete stop and then proceed forward to gain a better sight distance before turning right;

• they come to a complete stop after the stop bar, but only if they don't force a pedestrian or biker from the crosswalk.

Drivers traveling through the Des Plaines intersection of Golf and Rand roads be advised: Red means stop.

The Des Plaines police are launching an education campaign to remind drivers that mounted red-light cameras will be operational at that intersection starting Monday.

That intersection had 16 accidents in 2008.

The two automated cameras now facing westbound and eastbound Golf Road will record violations 24/7. Violators have a 30-day grace period in which they will receive warning notices before citations are issued, starting Oct. 27.

Few residents showed up at Thursday night's community awareness meeting at city hall to learn more about the Red Light Photo Enforcement Program.

Des Plaines Police Chief Jim Prandini, who has been pushing for the cameras for years, said the city is late to the game.

"I pitched this a few years ago at the time when a lot of towns were jumping on the bandwagon," Prandini said. "We are very, very big in Des Plaines on traffic safety. We've won statewide awards for it."

However, officials acknowledged that red-light cameras have been unpopular in some towns and they are trying to be more judicious than other municipalities.

"My perspective has been for traffic safety," Prandini said. "All you have to do is stop, and if you stop there's not going to be a problem."

Prandini said police are starting with one intersection first to see if the presence of cameras helps reduce accidents at that location.

"Rosemont, Elk Grove Village, Palatine have seen successes," Prandini said. "We can reduce violations to nothing and then we'll make a decision where to go from there."

Prandini said the cameras aren't meant to ensnare drivers, which is why police are educating the public through a 9-minute public service announcement available on the city's website, desplaines.org/redlight.

"The programs are all about changing driver behavior," said Mike Lebert, representing RedSpeed Illinois, the city's camera vendor based in Lombard, which recently got rid of its lone red-light camera at North Avenue and Route 53 because it did not bring in sufficient revenue for the village.

Lebert stressed intersections with red-light cameras have seen decreases in violations of 25 percent to 40 percent.

A specially trained Des Plaines police officer will review videos of all potential violations before any notices are sent to the vehicle's registered owner. The fine for a red-light camera violation is $100. The violation does not affect a person's driving record or insurance rates.

The cameras will capture vehicles making improper right and left turns without stopping. Violators can review the photos and video caught on camera at RedlightViolations.com and either pay or contest the ticket through the city's administrative hearing process.

Des Plaines 5th Ward Alderman James Brookman, who recently suggested the city council put the red-light camera question to voters to see if they want them, is still not convinced the cameras are a good idea.

"I'm just not sold on it," he said. "I think it's driven on revenue more than safety. To me it's too much government intrusion."

Brookman said he will ask his fellow aldermen to consider repealing the camera ordinance approved by the previous city council.

"We could do nothing, or we can take a position by voting," he said.

If that fails, Brookman still plans to push for an advisory referendum on the issue by circulating petitions to get enough signatures to put the question on a future ballot.