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Red-light camera survey - 70% say No

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

McHenry County, Illinois

Red-light camera survey - 70% say No

Gus Philpott
Woodstock Advocate
May 10, 2009

Last week's survey addressed the consideration currently being given by the City of Woodstock to the interest of Police Chief Lowen for the installation of red-light cameras in Woodstock.

In case you don't know what these are and how they work, basically a camera is installed facing an intersection controlled by traffic lights. If you violate the red light, the camera takes a picture (often more than one picture). A ticket is generated and mailed to you with the photographic proof. The fine is usually at least $100.00, payable in a city or town's administrative court.

A guilty plea or conviction does not go on your driving record.

You can fight it in the city's court, where a judge will hear your case.

The question in that survey was, "Should Woodstock install red-light cameras?"

Based on the responses of 50 readers, 70% (35 readers) voted against the installation of red-light cameras. Thirty percent (30% - 15 readers) approve of the idea.

The City of Woodstock should carefully evaluate the interest, opinions and positions of the residents before installing red-light cameras. Will it? Or will it, instead, just run forward with what "it" wants. Do these cameras really result in fewer accidents? Some studies indicate an increase in rear-end accidents, because drivers stop fast to avoid violating the red light and get smashed from behind.

It is not against the law to proceed through an intersection on a yellow light. The yellow is a warning that the light is about to change to red. It is, however, unlawful to "enter" the intersection on the red, and that's where the cameras are effective. Some would prefer that there be a short grace period, somewhat longer than 0.01 second. But if you are watching the light and paying attention, usually you have enough time to stop without jamming on the brakes and risking getting hit by the driver behind.

We're a small town here where, hopefully, people and their opinions still count for something. We're not Chicago or New York or Houston or Los Angeles.

A police "presence" during rush-hour traffic would go a long way toward reducing some of the violations. Or a Community Service Vehicle with a changeable-lettering sign on the roof, alerting motorists to drive safely; ex., "Do Not Text While Driving", "Watch the Road, not your phone", "Prepare to Stop on Yellow", or "Do Not Tailgate".

One of the major problems is the lack of authority of a city or town to address violations in a local way with new, temporary signing. How about a sign reading, "Do Not Run Red Lights!", that got moved around town? The problem? IDOT controls all the roads with traffic lights in Woodstock, and they live by a rules and procedures called the "Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices."

If the sign is not already designed, approved and in the Manual, then it's not going up on a state highway (or on certain other roads controlled by IDOT).

Don't want red-light cameras in Woodstock? Now is the time to inform the police chief, the city manager, the mayor and the members of the City Council.

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