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Is it Time to Stop to Red Light Cameras?

State lawmakers say it is after a raid by federal agents on the Springfield offices of one of their own. Senate Transportation Committee Chair Martin Sandoval, who has worked to push through legislation that would boost the uptake of cameras that record traffic flows, is the target of the FBI probe. He has accepted financial contributions from a Chicago company that provides cameras to municipalities in Cook County that have accrued millions from tickets written to drivers for violations caught on film. Run by a former state official, SafeSpeed LLC and its principals and subsidiaries are generous donors to Sandoval’s campaign war chest.

Following similar raids on suburban government offices, the Cicero senator’s fellow Dems have added their names to bills sponsored by House Republicans to ban the cameras, which they say act as little more than cash machines for local governments. Citing safety concerns, Sandoval blocked past attempts and in 2017 lobbied the Department of Transportation for installation of SafeSpeed cameras in DuPage County. Towns and cities in 23 states use the systems and courts in Illinois and elsewhere have denied class actions filed by ticketed motorists. Earlier this year, Texas became the 11th state to ban what some lawmakers have called “tools of the devil.” In 2015, an Arizona vendor copped a plea in a Windy City contracting scam that went on for almost a decade.