A bipartisan group of lawmakers support banning red light cameras in all of Illinois.
Monday several Republican and Democratic Representatives signed onto Democratic Representative Ken Dunkin’s House Bill 141. The group signed on a day after a demonstration opposing red light cameras took place in downtown Chicago.
Mark Wallace, director of Citizens to Abolish Red Light Cameras, helped organize Sunday’s rally and said a recent conviction of a Chicago city official in a vendor bribery scandal is just one reason to ban the cameras across the state.
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“The legislature needs to get rid of this system,” Wallace said, “and make some real provisions for public safety and traffic safety.”
Republican Representative David McSweeney, who signed on to Dunkin’s bill last March, said a separate measures he sponsored banning red light cameras in non-home rule areas passed the House and is just a start.
McSweeney said red light cameras “are being used to generate revenue, it’s not about safety.”
That’s something Democratic Representative Andre Thapedi agrees with.
Though he’s a sponsor of Dunkin’s measure, Thapedi said he can only speak for the 32nd House District.
“It’s pretty clear that red light camera were put up not as a safety measure but as a way to generate revenue for the city of Chicago,” Thapedi said. “And I think that my constituents do not support the red light cameras being in the 32nd District.”
Wallace said one of his concerns is the lack of due process.
“The person who is conducting a moving violation,” Wallace said, “that individual must be observed by a peace officer or a police officer, not a third-party private company that is based in another state somewhere enforcing Illinois law.”
McSweeney and Thapedi agree due process is a concern.
“It’s very difficult to appeal red light camera tickets,” McSweeney said. “My view is that what we need to do is we need to focus on making sure the laws are enforced.”
Thapedi said that administrative law judges, or “quasi judicial officers … that oversee the cases involving my constituents, they’re less than fair.”
Meanwhile studies from both the Federal Highway Authority from 2005 and Texas A&M from 5 years ago indicates an increase in rear-end crashes. However, the Institute for Highway Safety touts a report that red light cameras have saved nearly 160 lives in America's 14 most populated cities that used the cameras between 2004 and 2008.
Dunkin’s bill picked up support from Republican Representatives Ron Sandack and Barbara Wheeler and Democrat Representatives Art Turner, Cynthia Soto, and Carol Ammons Monday.