Red-light cameras, now seemingly a done deal for Riverside, are a total scam. They are a way for municipalities to separate taxpayers, preferably taxpayers from another town, from their hard-earned money. They are a way for municipalities to invent a new revenue stream to pay for things, police and fire pensions in some towns, that threaten to overwhelm traditional budgets.
And, we maintain, there is absolutely no proof that these infernal cameras actually increase public safety. Nine out of 10 red-light tickets — always at the amped-up price of $100 per — are issued to drivers who fail to come to a complete stop before turning right on red. These aren’t incidents that lead to accidents; they are non-incidents that line the pockets of the camera operators who skim $40 off the top of every ticket issued.
What a racket. Highway robbery. Plain and simple.
But on Sept. 6 by a 4-2 vote, Riverside trustees took the essential step of directing staff to prepare the ordinance authorizing installation of cameras in the village. Initially cameras are planned for the northbound and eastbound approaches to 31st and First Avenue and also eastbound at 26th and Harlem.
That Harlem camera will extend the municipal greed stretching along Route 43 from River Forest to Berwyn to North Riverside and now to Riverside and which, as the Landmark has meticulously documented, have generated millions in found money for these towns.
We had been encouraged at the time of our reporting on this menace by the seeming opposition to these cameras that we found in Riverside. But officials have been bitten by the free money bug and are now mouthing the various platitudes about how cameras change driving habits. Prove it.
Now there is a new argument that placing these cameras, and so many other cameras in our society, is a way for police to investigate crashes happening within the lens-view of a red-light camera or to identify cars involved in other crimes. If we need more cameras to keep society safe, then towns and villages ought to invest in more cameras for that purpose. Taxing innocents who fail to make a 100 percent stop on a right turn is not the way to pay for that added security.
Red-light cameras are a greedy way for municipalities, and soon Riverside will be among them, to take money they haven’t earned from decent people who have.