Red-light traffic cameras coming to Oak Lawn

November 15, 2006
By Angela Caputo Staff writer

Drivers ought to think twice before gunning it through red lights in Oak Lawn since the village is set to get the first traffic enforcement cameras in the Southland.

Officials plan to install cameras at the intersections of 95th Street and Cicero Avenue and 93rd Street and Southwest Highway in the coming months.

Violators caught on camera going through a red light will face hefty fines, though Oak Lawn hasn't set the amount yet.

Police chose those intersections because they are among the most accident-prone in Oak Lawn, according to Division Chief Roger Pawlowski.

This week Oak Lawn awarded Arizona-based Red Flex Traffic Systems with the contract for the cameras. The company will install its equipment once Illinois Department of Transportation approves the project.

Under the deal, Oak Lawn will pay Red Flex $13,000 a month, plus $4.80 from every citation.

Village authorities said they might use a $100,000 IDOT grant to help cover the costs.

Based on a review of August traffic data, an average of 74 cars blew through the intersections each day.

If the number of red-light runners keeps pace with that estimate, the village could net up to $185,000 a month after the Red Flex fees are deducted.

The number of violators, however, is typically cut in half within months of camera installations, Pawlowski said.

Village officials haven't determined exactly what price drivers will pay if they're caught running the lights. They have discussed fines of as much as $100.

Violators also could lose driving privileges if they accumulate five unpaid citations.

Like the equipment in Chicago, the Oak Lawn cameras will snap photos of cars as they pass through the intersection. The photos will capture an image of the car's license plate, though not necessarily of the driver.

The owner of the vehicle will be notified by mail within 30 days of the violation. Since the identity of the driver isn't captured by the cameras, the citation isn't counted against a person's driving record as a moving violation, according to state Sen. Ed Maloney (D-Chicago), who co-sponsored the legislation that paved the way for the surveillance enforcement cameras.

Chicago installed the cameras in 2003 and the number of red-light citations increased dramatically since. Red Flex is in the process of installing 500 more cameras in the city, according to Pawlowski.

Angela Caputo may be reached at or (708) 633-5993