Cameras will team with traffic signals
Arla Capel,
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Law targets metro east, Chicagoland
The saying, "No cops, no stops" will now be, "Smile, you are on candid camera."

Governor Rod Blagojevich signed House Bill 4835 last week to allow cameras at stop lights in northeastern Illinois and the metro east. Drivers can expect to see the cameras in areas with heavy traffic.

House Bill 4835 is a traffic safety measure that allows photo enforcement at stop lights to catch those who do not stop when the light is red. It also gives local law enforcement agencies the ability to obtain the cameras.

The bill was sponsored by Representative Angelo "Skip" Saviano (R-Elmwood Park) and Senator John Cullerton (D-Chicago.)

The camera works by taking one or a few photos of the violator crossing the intersection while the light is red and taking a photo of the license plate.

Blagojevich said too many drivers do not think running a red light is a big deal. He wants drivers to know that running a red light is dangerous and even if a police officer is not around, violators can be caught. Violators with more than five unpaid tickets on their record may lose their license. The civil penalty for violations can be up to $100.

Cameras have also been used to curtail speeding and accidents in work zones by using the same photo system. Primarily, the state of Illinois and the Illinois Department of Transportation have used photo enforcement vans in those areas. Speeding in a construction zone can equal a $375 fine or more and a second offense can be more than $1,000.

Cullerton said the roads will be safer and other cities that have used the photo enforcement have seen fewer violations and accidents.

Saviano said, "Photo enforcement at intersections is a huge step forward in preventing accidents due to people running red lights. I was proud to sponsor this legislation, and thank the governor for signing it."

St. Clair and Madison counties in the metro east and several counties in northeastern Illinois are now able to impliment the enforcement technique as of the signing of the bill. IDOT also plans to work with the designated areas to establish locations and monitor and analyze crashes to determine if the cameras are preventing serious injuries or other car related accidents.

Edwardsville Police Chief David Bopp said there are currently no cameras operated by police at intersections in the city.

"The only cameras you might see are operated by IDOT to control traffic," Bopp said. "We don't have any cameras and I haven't heard that we are getting any."

Bopp said most of the intersections in Edwardsville have been upgraded and do not necessarily need photo enforcement yet.

Drivers may see cameras on top of poles on Center Grove Road, Route 157 and Governors' Parkway. All of those cameras are mandated by IDOT and are used for traffic control.

The Edwardsville Police Department has been holding traffic enforcement periods to stop drunk drivers and to reduce traffic crashes and injuries.

On Monday, the EPD began their fifth enforcement period. Officers will be looking for impaired drivers, drivers speeding and occupant protection violations, such as children improperly placed in car seats or booster seats.

Blagojevich wants citizens to know the bill is important because the fatalities at intersections make up 26 percent of total fatalities in Illinois and 80 percent of those happen at intersections with traffic signals.

Blagojevich signed legislation to allow photo enforcement at railroad crossings. Senate Bill 2865 was issued after a Metra Express train crashed into cars caught in rush hour traffic in Elmwood Park the day before Thanksgiving last year.