.

Geneva Will Say Goodbye to Red-Light Cameras March 8

The three-year program ends with mixed results, but Geneva Mayor Kevin Burns says the experiment was worthwhile.

Geneva's three-year experiment with red-light cameras at two dangerous intersections will come to an end in early March.

Geneva police Cmdr. Julie Nash said by e-mail this week that the contract is set to expire at 11:59 p.m. March 8, 2013. That "fade to black" marks the end of a sometimes controversial police enforcement technology that was hailed by some as the wave of the future and condemned by others as too much "Big Brother" oversight by local government.

Red-light cameras also came into play as a political issue in the 2012 Republican primary race for Kane County Board chairman, when then-candidate Chris Lauzen held a press conference decrying the cameras in the hometown of his opponent, Geneva Mayor Kevin Burns.

Burns said Thursday that the Geneva Police Department would be putting together a comprehensive report of the red-light cameras after the contract ends. The report is expecte to look at the overall number of accidents, the numbers of tickets issued and offer some analysis of the cameras' effects.

"It’s my belief—and I trust the City Council's belief—when we entered into this agreement three years ago that it was predicated on the idea that technology can help us provide safer roadways in Geneva and a more efficient way to police," Burns said in a brief phone interview Thursday. 

Burns said he didn't have final numbers, but in ballpark figures, Geneva issued about $390,000 in fines in 2011, about $100,000 in 2012 and about $10,000 so far in 2013.

"In terms of efficiency and effectiveness, it was worth experimenting with," Burns said. "This was never about generating revenue. It was about promoting safer roadways."

Geneva has two red-light cameras in operation on Randall Road, at the intersections of Williamsburg Avenue and Fargo Boulevard, which statistics show to be "two of the more dangerous intersections, not only in our community, but in Kane County," Burns said.

Burns acknowledged that the camera enforcement was an "experiment," but he said it was an experiment worth exploring. Police can't be everywhere, he said, but with camera enforcement, they can be in a position to make good law-enforcement decisions at the intersections where accidents happen most frequently.

Geneva's program was different than those of other communities, where tickets sometimes are automatically triggered. Geneva police officers reviewed every potential infraction and issued citations only if the officer felt a citation was warranted.

"Our program was unique, the only one of its kind in the state of Illinois," Burns said. "People (in government) like to talk about innovation, but they don't always follow through. My hunch is, as technology advances, there’s going to be a demand for implementing technology to provide additional safety."

Geneva police have a philosophy "to educate, then enforce," Burns said. That philosophy is reflected in police traffic reports, which more often than not reflect a warning notice for first offenses.

When asked if the loss of revenue from red-light cameras might change that policy, Burns said that simply would not be the case.

The red-light cameras had to be approved by Kane County. Burns said the city did not intend to seek permission to install red-light cameras at other intersections once the cameras at Fargo and Williamsburg are taken down, and he would not expect Kane County to approve new cameras if the city were to make an appeal.

"Based on the chairman's position, my assumption is it has run its course," Burns said. 

No one can say what accidents might have been prevented due to the red-light cameras or whether they were a help or hindrance to drivers. The city's intent was to change driving habits, and Burns said the statistic appear to indicate a reduction in the number of accidents overall, over time.

"I think people have come to learn to be more cautious," he said. "And hopefully, (they) will continue to be when the cameras are no longer available."

Rich Hayhurst January 25, 2013 at 12:49 AM
It'll be nice to see people accelerate through red lights again. Every man, woman and child for themselves...
btown95 January 25, 2013 at 01:03 AM
These things are nothing but a money grab for the city, glad to see they are going away
Chad Baker January 25, 2013 at 01:18 AM
The thing Burns is leaving out is that the based on the statistics at the intersections, the county will not renew the permits. Rather than admitting they were a failure, he will just let them fade away as an "experiment"
besmart January 25, 2013 at 02:51 AM
Is that better then people racing through yellow due to fear of an unjust ticket? What about the people who go 55 MPH even when the light is green "just in case"?
DJP January 25, 2013 at 03:08 AM
"This was never about generating revenue. It was about promoting safer roadways." With all due respect to Mayor Burns, the initial intention may have been to "save lives" however, in the end the camera companies knew cities would be addicted to the revenue. Thankfully the cameras are coming down. Finally common sense prevailed. With that said, the citiy of Geneva needs to find a solution to the Fargo/Randall Road intersection. Too, the city can start by closing off the Kaneville entrance to the strip mall (near the 7/11 store) so that it will lessen the traffic flow in that area. In fact that tiny intersection could be the WORST design in this city. Cars coming off Randall heading west on Kaneville never know if they are supposed to stop or keep going. it is truly a miracle more people are not injured.
Rich Hayhurst January 25, 2013 at 04:10 AM
Well, a yellow light means to stop if you can safely do so. You have to admit that a lot of people, particularly around rush hour, consciously run red lights. I've seen it time after time and wholeheartedly support red light cameras as a safety measure and efficient revenue source and would prefer that they stay in place.
Rich Hayhurst January 25, 2013 at 04:27 AM
This study by the Federal Highway Administration seems to show a net reduction in right angle crashes, the benefit of which is partially offset by an increase in rear end crashes. http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/publications/research/safety/05049/
besmart January 25, 2013 at 05:27 AM
This is true, but speeding cars down a busy Randall Road isn't good either. Let alone the people nervous about getting a ticket and slamming on their brakes right when it goes to yellow and they're ten feet away from the intersection.
DJP January 25, 2013 at 12:51 PM
Yellow lights should be timed longer so that motorists don't have to slam on their breaks so quickly and can easily go through the intersection. Too, the data is pretty clear. The cameras are not performing any better than intersections without cameras. And aside from the cameras being unconstitutional, what happened with the monies that was generated from tickets? Taxpayers should have seen a credit. So you see. it was not about safety. It was about greed. Good riddance.
Stephen January 25, 2013 at 12:55 PM
Most likely the reason the town is dropping the RLC is that they are losing money. The claim that this was done for 'safety" is just a talking point. There are pleanty of example of towns dumping RLC when they started to lose money. In Georgia when the legislature requried longer ambers, a number of towns DUMPED RLC. They made all sorts of reasons why. The real reason was they lost money. http://www.thenewspaper.com/news/28/2861.asp www.banthecams.org
Billy Pilgrim January 25, 2013 at 01:03 PM
Whenever someone says "its not about the money", its about the money.
Stephen January 25, 2013 at 01:16 PM
http://geneva.patch.com/articles/jeff-ward-if-geneva-red-light-camera-revenue-quacks-like-a-duck Quote: As I studied the numbers, I noticed the same trend you did. While the city took in $162,034, or $27,000 a month, for the first half of the year, it only made $15,189.07, or $2,532 a month, in the second half. Trying to get the actual formula for how Geneva and Redflex, Inc. split the cash was like pulling chicken teeth, but what we can say with certainty is that Geneva saw a 91 percent intra-year drop in monthly revenue. City Administrator Mary McKittrick explained that it was the result of fewer citations being issued. This can only mean one of two things. Either you all finally figured out how to drive, or a major municipal policy shift occurred in June. And considering I live within spitting distance of Randall Road, I know it ain’t the former. Whether there's a connection or not, red-light revenue started tanking right around the time Mayor Burns was considering running for the county chair, and it took a complete nose dive when he announced in August.
Stephen January 25, 2013 at 01:16 PM
http://geneva.patch.com/articles/jeff-ward-if-geneva-red-light-camera-revenue-quacks-like-a-duck Quote: As I studied the numbers, I noticed the same trend you did. While the city took in $162,034, or $27,000 a month, for the first half of the year, it only made $15,189.07, or $2,532 a month, in the second half. Trying to get the actual formula for how Geneva and Redflex, Inc. split the cash was like pulling chicken teeth, but what we can say with certainty is that Geneva saw a 91 percent intra-year drop in monthly revenue. City Administrator Mary McKittrick explained that it was the result of fewer citations being issued. This can only mean one of two things. Either you all finally figured out how to drive, or a major municipal policy shift occurred in June. And considering I live within spitting distance of Randall Road, I know it ain’t the former. Whether there's a connection or not, red-light revenue started tanking right around the time Mayor Burns was considering running for the county chair, and it took a complete nose dive when he announced in August.
Rick Nagel (Editor) January 25, 2013 at 03:04 PM
For what it's worth, the Insurance Institute of America released a study yesterday (Jan. 24) saying that red-light violations decreased in Virginia where cameras were installed. http://www.iihs.org/research/topics/pdf/r1185.pdf
Jason January 25, 2013 at 03:05 PM
Exactly!
BobE January 25, 2013 at 03:16 PM
There's a difference between "running" a red light and not fully stopping before turning "right on red". Most our intersections require you to stop twice to follow the law; once at the white line and again when you've pulled forward enough to see if there's oncoming traffic. As a result everyone just slides through into their right turns. Glad to see the cameras go.
Rod Nelson January 25, 2013 at 03:55 PM
Rick The study you cited excluded right turn on red violations except where such turns were always prohibited. I never spoke with anyone here who complained about being cited for "running" straight through a red light. Rather it was the slight "rolling stops" on red or "missing the line" that brought frustration. How much Geneva "revenue" came from these "california rolling stops"? Mayor Burns was quited as saying these violations were not ticketed. Is that correct? Your citation: "Two technicians observed the traffic videotapes to tally counts of vehicles and identify violations. For the purposes of the study, red light violations were defined as vehicles entering an intersection at least 0.5 second after the signal light turned red. A jog and shuttle controller was used to view the videotape by frame (1/30th of a second) when a violation was detected to determine the elapsed time after red. The coded violations then were reviewed by the supervising researcher. At all 12 intersections, coding of red light running included vehicles traveling straight through the intersection and vehicles turning left (where permitted). Right-turn-on-red violations were excluded at intersections where vehicles can turn right on red, including intersections with slip lanes and intersections without slip lanes. Right-turn-on-red violations were excluded at latter intersections because it could not be determined from the videotape whether or not a driver stopped before turning right." Rod
Kim Lyons January 25, 2013 at 04:58 PM
Bicyclists and pedestrians need a safe way to cross Randall at Fargo. Those cameras helped with that aspect.
Jan January 25, 2013 at 05:01 PM
All I know is my Dad got two tickets for turning right on red at one of those intersections, so,that changed MY behavior; I would NOT turn right on red and would sit and wait at BOTH of those intersections raising the blood pressure and ire of everyone behind me. Only because of fear of a ticket for what is a legal driving maneuver, but, its nice to know i dont have to endure the honks and hand gestures anymore. Frankly, all those cameras REALLY did was get me to find alternate routes through subdivisions to avoid the cameras.
DJP January 25, 2013 at 05:34 PM
@KimLyons: We use the Randall/Fargo intersection often thus, prior to the red light camera(s) being installed you mean to tell me my family to include pedestrians & cyclists were not safe? I am shocked. We were taught in kindergarten when entering a sidewalk, path or driveway, or crossing a street , we should stop completely. Look left, right and left again. And if on a bike, walk, don't ride your bicycle across the street. Cross only at the street corner, not mid-block and before crossing the street make sure the traffic has come to a complete stop. Shocking! How have we survived before the RLC were installed?
Rich Hayhurst January 25, 2013 at 05:58 PM
Thank you for the link to an interesting study. I do hope that public safety, both that of pedestrians and motorists isn't compromised in Geneva for political expediency. As motorists will once again casually accelerate through red lights, it is wise to take that into account when walking or biking across these intersections.
Jim Radecki January 25, 2013 at 06:09 PM
This is simple. It is a revenue grab and nothing else. Red Flex and the municipalities that use RLC's will try and spin it to a safety issue but the facts are just not there. Accident rates do not go down. If the City was concerned about safety why are the violations not reported to the State? Because then the fines would have to be sent there too. The reason citations have been dropping is because the city in its review process has decided to throttle back issuing tickets. There has been no improvement in Randall Road driving habits. And it is all political. You see the city needs the approval from the county to extend the RLC contract becaue Randall is a county road. And since the new County Chairman and our Mayor openly despise each other the county ain't going to approve an extension. It is local politics period.
JR January 25, 2013 at 06:31 PM
Just to clarify a couple of mis-statements. First, a yellow light DOES NOT mean that you have to stop if you can. It means that you are to proceed with caution. Slamming on your brakes for a yellow light will most likely get you hit from behind. Second, the law does not require you to stop twice before turning right on red. It requires you to stop once and then complete your turn when safe to do so. This assumes that right turn on red is not prohibited by control device. A turning vehicle always has to yield to a vehicle entering the intersection legally. Finally, the yellow lights are timed so that a vehicle entering the intersection on a yellow and traveling at the speed limit, will travel through the intersection without incident. They are engineered that way by traffic engineers. The merits of red light camera's are open to debate, I just dislike posts that are not accurate.
Paul Bellinger January 25, 2013 at 07:45 PM
I have no claims to any expertise in traffic/highway safety--let alone the town of Geneva. My belief is that our driving public has become very dangerous. There are many reasons for this behavior---including hot headed-ness and impatience. There are a lot of accidents on Randall Rd --simply due to volume. We cannot police every car and driver on a 24/7 basis. Accidents happen due to careless and reckless behaviors of the operators---sometimes they are impaired due to drugs and alcohol. Unfortunately---this is our society in 2013. For the most part---we are generally good people and reasonably careful drivers. Thinking that a camera would eliminate or substantially reduce accidents/deaths is wishful thinking. Sadly---as most decisions in life---money gets in the way of judgment.
Dale Seidel January 26, 2013 at 04:33 PM
I received one of the "Safety Lessons" (I would never presume this is a revenue generator) and one benifit is that when I am called by the many 'associations' asking for donations, I respond that I made a $250 donation to a Right on Red community, and that they should call back in 10 years, when I'd be ready again to donate my usual $25.
DJP January 26, 2013 at 06:49 PM
@DaleSeidel: LOL...
James C. Walker January 31, 2013 at 10:04 PM
It is good that Geneva is ending the red light camera program. IF the city has a genuine red light violation rate issue, then simply adding one second to the yellow intervals will almost certainly solve that issue better than cameras ever could. The real answer to traffic safety is better engineering, not punishment. James C. Walker, National Motorists Association
Camp Kohler March 23, 2013 at 05:47 PM
Why not erect large signs on all approaches to the intersections? "DANGEROUS INTERSECTION AHEAD! killed last year: NNN This year so far: NNN" Be careful!" Wouldn't it be great if that's all it took to cut accidents in half?

Boards

More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something