The Darker Side of Naperville’s New Automated Red Light Cameras

naperville-traffic-lightsI realize I might get a little heat for this one, but I feel compelled to speak up based on a Naperville Sun article I read today regarding the relaunch of Naperville’s automated red light cameras which snap photos of cars running red lights at busy intersections. 

I speak from the experience of my daily commute which takes me to Des Plaines by way of River Road through Rosemont.  Anyone who has driven down River Road in Rosemont might agree when I call the stretch of road “Red Light Camera Alley”.  Every other traffic light is enforced by the automated enforcers in the sky. 

First, I do not disagree that there are many busy intersections around Naperville and other citys and towns with track records of accidents.  I report to work each and every day to an organization devoted to preventing all forms of injuries.  Beyond these cameras being an easy revenue-generator the more important consideration which should be addressed is whether or not these cameras truly improve traffic safety.

First, as a seasoned commuter who drives nearly 18,000 miles a year for work (ouch, why did I do that calculation), I pride myself in my own safe-driving practice amidst the morning and afternoon kamikaze “stunt drivers”.  My biggest observation is when drivers approach these red light camera intersections they don’t know whether to slam on the brakes or floor their accelerator pedal.  Personally, I approach these intersections with trepidation having the knowledge of “big brother” smiling from its lifeless metal box just waiting for the chance to charge me $100 for a violation.  In my mind, though I’ve never received an camera enforced ticket (knock-knock-knock), I believe it creates more intersection danger than it solves. 

Second, on overcast days or in the darkness of winter rush hour, these cameras actually use a strobe-like flash to lure possible violators into the clutches of its sinister lens, which serves as a major distraction regardless of which direction you are traveling. 

I guess time will tell whether we see a reduction in accidents as I hope that is the case.  However, I can say that these cameras seem to create a new form of erratic traffic stress and dangerous driving behavior, even for good drivers who simply want to obey the laws of the road.  In the meantime, I have no doubt the cameras will be a good revenue-generator for the City of Naperville.  

Have you had an experience with red light cameras?  If so, I invite you to share your story via a comment below.  SM  

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2 responses to “The Darker Side of Naperville’s New Automated Red Light Cameras

  1. I think we are all waiting to see how these new cameras turn out. I certainly mirror your trepidation at approaching these intersections, after all none of us really know HOW the technology will be used until we receive (or don’t receive) a ticket in the mail. Personally, I wonder if the cameras are configured to take snapshots as soon as the light turns red, after all what happens if the car entered the intersection during the yellow light?

    There has always been a question of balance between the benefits and detriments of the use of a new technology…and it always comes down to the human factor. The tool only provides the results determined by the human in control. We run into this with many of our commercial security camera systems. In the hands of a benevolent owner, these systems can provide many benefits to both the business and the employees within, however in the hands of a controlling tirant the security cameras can cause great distrust and disgust amongst subordinates.

    So even if the Naperville Red Light cameras are introduced under the intent of reduction of accidents, the question stands: Will they actually reduce accidents…and will they remain under control of personnel who will use them only in the intended fashion?

    Here’s hoping that the cameras will reduce accidents, and that we will all discover the extent of their enforcement so that we can avoid having tickets in the mail.

  2. All these cameras will do is generate revenue for the city. Mostly for the reasons mentioned above. If I see the light changing color, I will now be slamming on the brakes, regardless of what might happen, because I don’t want the city to steal another $100 from me. If it’s snowy, I’ll either go sliding or the person behind me might hit me. At a couple of intersections if you go up to the stopline, it’s hard to even see what color the light is from there. I thought the light was still yellow when I crossed the crosswalk. If I find a politician that wants to take out the cameras I will be voting for them regardless. It isn’t just the traffic cameras. Naperville also has police sitting in abandoned industrial parks waiting for someone to go 10 mph over a ridiculously slow speed limit so they can make more money. Obviously they have no real crime to stop, or they’re not interested in stopping it because that costs money instead of generating it.

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