The River Forest Village Board recently approved the installation of two red light cameras.
The measure passed by a 4-1 vote at the village board's Oct. 11 meeting, with Trustee Susan Conti opposing and Trustee Cathy Adduci recusing because of her relationship with Al Ronan, a powerful lobbyist for RedSpeed Illinois, a Lombard-based firm that had competed for River Forest's red light camera business.
Trustee Jim Winikates was late to the meeting and did not vote, but Village President John Rigas did.
The board majority threw their support behind red light cameras, saying the devices will be a boon to traffic safety. Together, the intersections targeted for cameras saw 93 crashes from 2006 to 2010. In 2009 and 2010 there were 65 accidents with more than $1,500 in damages reported at both intersections. (Police officers are no longer required to write a report if damages in accidents are less than $1,500, according to the Illinois Department of Transportation.)
Police Chief Greg Weiss has said the cameras will keep officers from making potentially dangerous traffic stops for red light infractions on those busy roads.
In light of the village's board's decision, here's a look at some of what you need to know:
The cameras will be placed at two busy intersections
- One of the cameras will be placed southbound on Harlem Avenue at Lake Street; the other will be placed facing east on North Avenue at Harlem Avenue.
But they won't be here anytime soon
- The move is pending approval from IDOT, which is expected within a year. An IDOT spokesman said it's rare for a request to get shot down by the state.
They're always on
- Once the camera captures an offense, a River Forest community service officer — in this case a retired River Forest cop — will review footage and decide whether a violation occurred. If he determines it did, you'll be mailed a notice, which carries a $100 fine.
And you can fight back
- Offenders will be able to contest their tickets in the River Forest adjudication system. But prior to that, you'll be able to review the footage from your violation online and see whether you've got a chance.
- A 2009 Chicago Tribune investigation found that the "vast majority of red-light camera tickets are issued for failure to make a complete stop before a right turn on red -- not for blowing through an intersection," which raises questions about whether the addition of cameras means more safety for motorists, more revenue for the municipality or a little bit of both.
Who owns the cameras?
- The devices are owned and maintained by Safe Speed Inc., a Chicago-based firm that operates cameras in several Chicagoland suburbs, including Berwyn, Melrose Park and Hillside. River Forest Village Administrator Eric Palm said the company was chosen because they offered "much more authority over the process of who's cited and who isn't."
Big Brothers are watching
- The new red lights cameras will join more than a dozen other surveillance cameras already installed River Forest. Eight cameras are located near Lake Street and Central Avenue near the River Forest Town Centre. There are several more located near River Forest Village Hall, 400 Park Avenue, and officials are looking to install two more surveillance cameras elsewhere.
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