DG RLC Study

Note: Some people have erroneously assumed I am dissing on the Police Department. Wrong. I think Chief Porter and his department take their jobs very seriously, and strive to excel at them. I’m not alone thinking that; in fact, to quote from the August 2007 DG Monthly Report:

On August 8, Chief Porter and Village Manager Pavlicek attended an awards ceremony hosted by the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police and IDOT. The ceremony recognized the Downers Grove Police Department for accomplishments in the area of traffic safety on a state and national level. The Police Department was given a LIDAR speed enforcement device as an award for its accomplishments.

Budgeting $100,000 to buy the system was never discussed at the budget meetings I attended. In fact, the PD budget was skipped over completely. I went back and looked at the budget, and I still don’t see the line item clearly explained. The first benefit, reduction of accidents, is just flat out false. Note the only source cited is the IIHS, the insurance industry shills. There is no providing any actual reportage of fact.

Don’t blame Chief Porter for that. He has done what hundreds of other Chiefs across the country have also done. In the search to make communities safer, and to more efficiently deploy his resources, they have gone to meetings, listened to speakers from the IIHS and RLC suppliers, and accepted as fact what is carefully tailored incomplete misinformation, especially with regards to safety.

Update: Page 2-15 of the Adopted 2008 Budget, under Future Years, clearly states:

Research and possibly implement a Red Light Photo Enforcement to enhance traffic safety

The Iowa study quoted here of course credits Richard Retting of the IIHS for their contributions. And you can download the study direct from RedSpeed Illinois’ own website. None of the communities studied, after reading the final product, endorsed the report, mainly because the report does no before and after comparisons of the same intersections. How did our PD manage to find the most favorable, and most flawed, study not directly done by the IIHS? They, and hundreds of other Police Departments, were given this report and the infamous Oxnard CA study by RLC suppliers and/or the IIHS, and told these were definitive, accurate reports.

Enforcing the law at Finley and Butterfield can be hard. There are plenty of drunk drivers blasting around there that would be happy to trade a DUI from a living breathing DG cop for a civil ticket taken by a RLC. Is that a reason for taking a cop off that beat?

Under Potential Issues finally acknowledging the truths (not perceptions, as the report attempts to label them) that are so single mindedly denied. Again, the speakers from the IIHS and the camera suppliers tout these exact potential issues in their presentations.

Now we’re getting down to the brass tacks of costs versus revenue. Two and a half weak pages on safety, 7 pages on revenues. The priority here is? Revenues.

Of course the RLC companies will work closely with us: it’s a cash cow for them at the beginning, and if they can expand locations and services (say from just red light running to speed enforcement) it’s the gravy train that keeps on going.

Damn straight DuPage County will want their piece of the pie. Why wouldn’t they?

Note that all five RLC companies spec in steady revenues each year, instead of the documented declining revenues that will happen (unless countermeasures like shortening yellow light timing are taken).

I have to assume DG Chief of Police Robert Porter has read the 374 page HIGHWAY SAFETY DESK BOOK, prepared by the Highway Safety Committee of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, especially the part where it says, specifically about RLC:

When considering the acquisition of photo enforcement technology, it is often best to deploy red light running cameras first, before using it for speed enforcement. Public support is generally greatest for the red light running enforcement; once public support and confidence have been attained, further applications can be considered.

Staff recommends going ahead with RLC. Doesn’t say what the revenues will be used for, but they want them. At least staff does not make the statement they concur that RLC make for safer intersections.


5 Responses to “DG RLC Study”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    Westmont just fell for this BS. The same old same old as written about here. One wonders what their report from their police chief said.

  2. Bill White Says:

    Mark, I just saw this new report and thought of your series on RLC:


    “As a prank, students from local high schools have been taking advantage of the county’s Speed Camera Program in order to exact revenge on people who they believe have wronged them in the past, including other students and even teachers.

    Students from Richard Montgomery High School dubbed the prank the Speed Camera “Pimping” game, according to a parent of a student enrolled at one of the high schools.

    Originating from Wootton High School, the parent said, students duplicate the license plates by printing plate numbers on glossy photo paper, using fonts from certain websites that “mimic” those on Maryland license plates. They tape the duplicate plate over the existing plate on the back of their car and purposefully speed through a speed camera, the parent said. The victim then receives a citation in the mail days later. “

  3. Barnet Fagel Says:


    The Chicago Tribune’s February 7th editorial focused on the CTA being “encouraged” by the driver’s union to pay their member’s 1,200 red light camera tickets for a total of about $120.000! The CTA deemed the tickets to be a “bureaucratic nuisance” even as the rest of the public has to pay whether you own a car or not! It’s not inherently fair nor is it legal to hold one group of persons “above the law” while indiscriminately punishing another equal group for the same offenses. Citing CTA schedules and passenger safety excuses for running red lights doesn’t is no justification.

    Hundreds of millions in ticket revenue is just too tempting of a windfall for the city to ignore. Especially when it’s done under the “color of authority”, the color red. The entire city has become one enormous red light district. Traffic signals have historically been set to established national traffic engineering standards. The accepted rules of the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices, the U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration, and the Institute of Transportation Engineers were established to promote safety, but they aren’t acknowledged in Chicago! Other city’s traffic experiences have shown accident increases after their respective red light camera installations.

    Red light cameras serve obediently 24 hours a day dutifully snapping pictures of license plates and converted at the “light speed” into a constant revenue stream that beats to the pulse of the politician’s pocketbook. What a golden thing it is to behold. The robocops have no regard for real traffic requirements such as the 85th percentile speed, approach velocity, forward head room, visual safety perception, mechanical maladies or radio frequency interference.

    Chicago joins the growing list of maniacal metropolises that include Chattanooga, TN, Dallas, TX, Springfield, MO, Lubbock, TX, Nashville, TN and Union City, CA that have been caught grossly cheating their drivers by local media using short-timed yellow traffic lights. News outlets shined the light of truth and turned the cameras back onto this seditious and dangerous practice to allow the cities to balance their particular budgets. Subsequent lengthening the yellow light timing results in much fewer violations, less accidents, safer roads at far less cost.

    Ticketed drivers can appear in front of a trained ticket clerk, but they soon find out that their “administrative” red light ticket challenges are stiffed by the ordinance’s political immunity. While these citations don’t currently add points to driver’s licenses, IT “CONVENIENTLY OUTLAWS” ANY DUE PROCESS OR ETHICAL CHALLENGES. If drivers want to appeal their cases to a higher court another charge of $95 filing fee plus a mandatory downtown appearance. The city fathers figured the vast majority of drivers can’t afford the time coupled with almost no chance of winning to justify the effort.

    Apparently the laws of physics, motion or logic don’t apply within the windy city. The city has determined that all vehicles, drivers and intersections are identical by their very nature so a city-wide three-second yellow light interval standard is all that is needed, when actually it is barely the federal minimum. The city knowingly takes no notice of real world traffic factors such as driver response times, vehicle size, inertia, road or visibility conditions that are recommended by traffic engineers.

    Because accepted traffic signal engineering practices are ignored the city it consciously and directly participates in ongoing cases of “spontaneous legal entrapment” each time any of the stop lights turn red. The city stifles the increased rear-end accident facts after red light camera installations in many other cities. “The city that works”, makes drivers work for the department of revenue and leaves the city politicians with dirty hands!

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