Plainfield sees drop in red-light camera fines
By Madhu Mayer For The Herald-News August 7, 2012 11:40PM
Updated: September 9, 2012 6:09AM
PLAINFIELD — It appears drivers are getting used to the red light traffic enforcement cameras in Plainfield.
Police Chief John Konopek recently told the Plainfield Village Board that fines collected from violators decreased from $8,100 in 2010, the first year the program went into effect, to $2,000 so far this year.
Plainfield has red-light cameras at the intersections of Route 59 and 135th Street and Route 30 and Renwick Road. The cameras on Route 59 and 135th Street have two approaches, which means it catches drivers who go through the red light on northbound and southbound Route 59.
Regarding the Route 30 and Renwick location, the camera is positioned only to catch those who go through the red light on westbound Route 30. Once a violator is caught on camera, a Plainfield police officer reviews the infraction, and a notice is mailed to the registered owner of the vehicle. That person can view the alleged violation online and either pay the fine or contest it.
Plainfield police traffic Sgt. Eric Munson said just like with fines, the number of citations also have decreased between 2010 and 2012 at both intersections. From Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, 2010, Plainfield police issued 3,573 citations at both locations. From Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, 2011, the citations decreased to 2,953. Between Jan. 1 to July 25 of this year, 1,200 tickets were issued.
“People are creatures of habit and they get used to them,” Munson said about the cameras. “But they are doing their job because it is stopping people from running the red light (and causing head-on collisions).”
Unlike tickets issued, Munson said the fees collected don’t tell the entire story because some people don’t pay the $100 fine at all or are not on time with their payments. Likewise, Munson cautioned against looking too much into the 30 to 35 percent decline in crashes at those locations with red-light cameras.
“It can take me days and days to go through each crash report,” he explained. When a crash occurs, Munson said the report lists the nearest location of the accident.
“A lot of our crashes are caused by people pulling out of private driveways or businesses,” he said.
Now, according to Munson, that can be a problem when analyzing crash reports at red-light camera locations.
For example, the red-light cameras do not play a role in an accident involving a driver pulling out of the Jewel parking lot on 135th Street north of Route 59. But the crash report will list Route 59 and 135th Street corner as site of the accident.
Regardless, Munson said the red light cameras are doing their job.
“It is amazing how many people will blow red lights,” he said.