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TMCNet:  Red-light tickets delayed in River Forest

[February 27, 2013]

Red-light tickets delayed in River Forest

Feb 27, 2013 (Chicago Tribune - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- Citations have not been sent out, but River Forest police say a new red-light camera at North and Harlem avenues is mostly catching motorists who break traffic rules while turning right.

Police have reviewed 1,400 videos, but would not say how many scofflaws they have observed.

And it's not clear when drivers who allegedly broke a traffic rule will receive notices.

River Forest Police Chief Gregory Weiss said in an email that village officials are "working out the details of the notices" with the camera company, SafeSpeed LLC.

"The delay in sending out the notice of violations is dependent on when the two entities' legal advisers iron out the language," Weiss said. "I don't suspect it will be too much longer, but we are in limbo for now." Weiss said officers have reviewed more than 1,400 videos of possible violations from the intersection since the program began Jan. 15.

"The vast majority are right-turn violations, but the fact that a motorist is turning right instead of going straight or a left turn does not alleviate them of their responsibility to come to a complete stop at a red light and also not turn right if a pedestrian is present," Weiss said, adding that there is a "no turn on red when pedestrians are present" sign at Harlem and North, where the village's only camera downloading videos is.

Through the Freedom of Information Act, the Tribune requested documents that would reveal how many citations were sent because of violations at the intersection since the village's program officially began.

In response, Weiss sent an email saying that no citations had been issued yet by the vendor.

In an email, an unidentified spokesperson for SafeSpeed, said "the village of River Forest is in the process of finalizing the citation templates, so depending on when that is completed, the citation will go out shortly afterwards." According to the village's contract with SafeSpeed, the village is expected to review all video and photographic evidence of possible violations within 10 days of receiving evidence, and the village has ultimate responsibility for determining whether a violation occurred and a violation notice should be issued.

While the village has installed red-light cameras at Harlem Avenue at Lake Street in addition to North Avenue at Harlem, the violations recorded at Harlem and Lake are not yet being downloaded, as the village is still working with the vendor to make that happen, Weiss said. Village trustees approved the agreement with SafeSpeed in October 2011 after approving an ordinance to allow cameras in the village in August 2011.

According to minutes from that August meeting, SafeSpeed will receive $40 of each $100 ticket issued to motorists. The cameras are constantly recording and can provide assistance in police investigations.

Weiss said about 60,000 vehicles go through North and Harlem every day.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, red-light cameras are used in about 540 communities in the U.S.

mmanchir@tribune.com Twitter @TribuneMM ___ (c)2013 the Chicago Tribune Visit the Chicago Tribune at www.chicagotribune.com Distributed by MCT Information Services

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