No motorist is an island. Sometimes we have to leave Oak Park and venture into less-hospitable environs, such as the ogre to the east wherein dwell red light and speed cameras.
I’ve already praised Oak Park officials for declining to use such shoddy devices. But now it seems that Chicago residents themselves are sick of these money cameras.
Lately on the news, I’ve been seeing protesters marching to have the cameras removed. Good luck to them. They are right.
Proponents of red light and speed cameras contend their use is a safety matter. And that the presence of cameras reduces accidents.
But most tickets for red light camera violations are not for running stop lights but for motorists who don’t come to an absolute stop before turning right on red. Such near-stops are not a safety issue.
And there is some evidence to show that red light cameras increase accidents at intersections by creating more rear-end collisions.
Most policemen never would ticket a driver for going 6 mph over the limit. But cameras do.
These piddling tickets also are unfair and one more way governments shift the burden of financing government onto those who can least afford it, middle-income and low-income people.
The fine for a red light violation may be $100 for all. But that’s just arithmetic. Take the person who handed your kid that Happy Meal today. He or she probably earns minimum wage, $8.25 per hour, $66 for an eight-hour shift, $386 for a 40-hour week, $17,160 a year. A $100 fine is almost two days’ pay.
Then take, for example, gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner. He made $53 million last year, or $25,480.77 an hour, $203,846.15 a day, $1,019,230.77 a week. A fine of $100 would be the blink of an eye to him.
There are so many reasons why speed cameras and red light cameras are bad, anti-democratic ideas.
But don’t take my word for it. The National Motorists Association on its website — www.motorists.org/red-light-cameras/studies — has links to 19 studies critical of traffic cameras.
There is some reason to be optimistic: Twelve states prohibit speed cameras. Nine states prohibit red light cameras.
And Oak Park.
Pay attention, River Forest.