Motorists are more likely to be injured in crashes involving red-light running than in any other type of crash. Red-light runners caused 900 deaths and more than 150,000 injuries across the United States in 2007. Still worried about the Big Brother of red-light cameras?

Motorists are more likely to be injured in crashes involving red-light running than in any other type of crash.

Red-light runners caused 900 deaths and more than 150,000 injuries across the United States in 2007.

Still worried about the Big Brother of red-light cameras?

If you value your life, you should be more worried about red-light runners. You should welcome red-light cameras, a technology that can reduce crashes by 30 percent and violations by as much as 50 percent. This figure, and the statistics above, are from the Federal Highway Administration and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

We applaud state lawmakers who are brave enough to face public backlash and are once again backing red-light cameras. State Sen. John Millner, R-Carol Stream, introduced Senate Bill 3140 this week. It is a rewrite of a current law that allows cameras in eight Illinois counties, mostly in and around Chicago.

A separate effort — to add red-light cameras in Winnebago County and five other downstate counties — unfortunately failed in the Legislature in 2008. The debate was marked by such silliness as Sen. Rickey Hendon, D-Chicago, saying red-light cameras were anti-American. “It’s against our rights as American citizens to live free. It’s against the Constitution of the United States.”

Has Hendon heard of the electronic eyes at tollbooths to catch people who don’t throw their money in the bucket? Cameras to add to the tollway’s coffers are OK, but cameras to save lives are not?

Millner said his tweaks to the red-light camera law have “common sense” additions, making it clearer what motorists can and can’t do. Among the revisions are posting signs in the communities that have cameras, painting them yellow for better visibility and giving drivers access to video clips of their violations.

That should address one of the major beefs of opponents: that the cameras are merely moneymakers for communities and entrap unsuspecting motorists, who have no recourse once they have been cited.

You said it was a stale yellow and not a bright red? Let’s go to the tape.

There’s another video that tells the story. In cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration’s observance of Stop On Red Week last August, private technology company American Traffic Solutions produced a video of crashes involving red-light running. The actual crashes in the 43-second video take up only 20 seconds, but they are so chilling, they seem to drag on forever. See for yourself at www.atsol.com/StopOnRedWeek.html

Local lawmakers have done their part, sort of. Rep. Chuck Jefferson, D-Rockford, sponsored the plan in the House in 2008, where it passed. Republican state Sen. Dave Syverson of Rockford voted for the bill after he amended it. His restrictions included a three-month trial of strobe lights in the red lenses at intersections before cameras were installed. If we’re going that far to baby motorists, how about a flashing message, “Red means stop”? The amended bill still came up four votes short in the Senate.
 
Red-light running is typically no simple error; people know what they are doing. A survey by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety last year found that 77 percent of people found running red lights to be completely unacceptable, while as many as 25 percent of the same people admitted they still did it.

Have some respect for your own safety. You should be more worried about the car ready to T-bone you at the next intersection than the camera that will take your picture only if you blow the light.

Rockford Register Star