Op-ed from Rep. Mazzochi: Red Light Cameras Need to Go

One of the most hated red light cameras in my district, at the corner of Route 83 and 22nd street, was implicated in a corruption scandal and federal indictments of former Illinois State Senator Martin Sandoval, and a seedy set of campaign donations and other funds from the firm that installed them—SafeSpeed. 

The red light camera rationale is that they will increase intersection safety. Yet a study commissioned by the Oak Brook Police Department found that the number of crashes at this intersection increased after this red light camera installation. We have repeatedly called on Governor Pritzker’s Illinois Department of Transportation to revoke the permit that blessed their installation under dubious circumstances.  Those pleas have fallen on deaf ears for almost two years running. 

When red light cameras are not about motorist safety, but cynical revenue grabs; when red light cameras are implicated in pay-to-play practices, and those with the power of oversight like IDOT cannot be counted on to keep the players honest; and when our residents insist over and over again that they want them gone, but local elected officials either won’t listen or can’t help; then the only solution is either red light camera reform, or to end them altogether.

To date, red light camera systems have been emblematic of Illinois government. They’re riddled with corruption, and shine a light on slow bureaucratic processes. Under the prior General Assembly leadership, the Senate would pass repeal bills knowing Madigan wouldn’t move them in the House; and Madigan would allow repeal bills knowing they would never move in the Senate (which is what happened with the last bill House bill I sponsored to ban red light cameras, which overwhelmingly passed the House with bipartisan support; only to die in the Senate).  Majority party legislators would issue self-congratulatory releases in their districts proud they “voted” for reform in theory, even though they never actually delivered it in practice. 

The new Democratic leadership in the Springfield General Assembly has promised good government and reform, and an end to past corrupt practices. I filed House Bill 1718 to ban red light cameras in their entirety. It’s time for Springfield to actually keep a promise to Illinois residents, and implement real reform.

Deanne Mazzochi

State Representative, 47th District