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ELK GROVE VILLAGE, Ill. (CBS) – A suburb that pulled out controversial red light cameras eight months ago is planning to put them back in after finding that accidents spiked after they were removed.
As CBS 2’s Mike Puccinelli reports, Elk Grove Village officials said they had no choice, because of what happened after the red light cameras were taken out.
You could call it the $100 flash, because that’s how much it will likely cost you if a red light camera catches you breaking the law at the intersection of Arlington Heights and Higgins roads in Elk Grove Village.
Cathy Zakrzewski has been ticketed twice and she said, when approaching intersections with red light cameras, she’s all over her brakes, guarding against possible rear-ending accidents.
Still, she and others say they don’t believe red light cameras are a useful safety tool.
But Elk Grove Village Mayor Craig Johnson said the numbers tell a different story.
He wanted to test whether the cameras actually reduced accidents, so eight months ago he had the village remove its two cameras at Devon Avenue and Busse Road.
Johnson said doing so caused the number of accidents at that intersection to skyrocket, compared with the same period a year earlier.
“In an eight month period the number of accidents went from ten to nearly thirty. That’s outside the scope of coincidence. It’s hard data,” said Johnson.
The numbers were so dramatic that an intersection that had been out of the top 10 immediately became the village’s most dangerous intersection.
“These cameras absolutely have the potential to save lives. No question about it,” said Johnson.
But drivers aren’t buying it, saying they think bringing back the cameras has more to do with generating revenue than saving lives.
Due to the new accident numbers from Devon and Busse, the village trustees voted to reinstall the red light cameras at the intersection as soon as possible.
But the Illinois Department of Transportation must first sign off on the plan. Johnson said he’s hopeful that will happen quickly.