The Greater Oak Brook Chamber of Commerce is deeply concerned about and opposed to the City of Oakbrook Terrace’s planned installation of red light cameras at Route 83 and 22nd Street. As such, the Chamber has been working diligently to delay and prevent installation of the cameras.
Part of this work has involved collecting as much traffic data for this intersection as possible to ensure that we understand the City’s and IDOT’s safety rationale for these cameras. The City of Oakbrook Terrace has shared with us their primary concern that focuses on specific data showing approximately 365 violations (not accidents) out of as what is estimated to be as many as 100,000 driver counts at this intersection. Apparently the City fears that these violations, without intervention, will lead to life-threatening accidents. We believe the City’s data actually reinforces data showing that this intersection is one of the safest in the region. We have also learned from current, reliable studies on red light cameras that there are much more effective ways than red light cameras to reduce potentially life-threatening violations like these at intersections similar to the one at Route 83 and 22nd Street.
We believe that these cameras may actually increase accidents at this intersection. Accident data for this intersection shows that while the number of total accidents for left turns at this intersection exceeds (barely) the minimum Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) requirements for red light camera approval, over eighty percent of these accidents are rear-end collisions. Rear-end collisions are most often caused by yellow light intervals that are too short. Based on our data review, these collisions are likely attributable to the unusually short yellow warning light at this intersection. We have learned that in Chicago yellow light intervals at same speed intersections would last four seconds. The yellow light at this intersection doesn’t even last a full three seconds. In fact, since rear-end collisions are strongly associated with red light cameras, there is a good chance that installing red light cameras at this intersection will actually increase accidents here. In addition to the likely increase in rear-end collisions and injuries, we believe these cameras will also add to driver frustration and diminish visitor experience, possibly having a negative impact on our local commerce and workforce.
While we understand that the City of Oakbrook Terrace has received IDOT’s approval for installing red light cameras, we have urged the City to cease any red light camera installation until IDOT improves its research and knowledge related to the impact of red light cameras on safety. We believe that IDOT’s red light camera standards must begin addressing where and under what circumstances, if any, these cameras would actually work to improve safety. Each intersection reviewed should be analyzed in a comprehensive way, not by using only one set of safety data points that could be linked to multiple causes. And as opposed to specifically focusing on the number of violations that are occurring, IDOT must begin considering the different types of accidents that are occurring at these intersections, the role of yellow and green light timing in reducing turn lane accidents, and the actual previous safety results of red light cameras at similar intersections.
The Chamber has shared all of this information with the City of Oakbrook Terrace and, again, we have urged the City not to install these red light cameras. We believe these cameras will not improve safety at this intersection and will likely make the intersection less safe. We will continue to communicate our concerns to the City. We will also urge IDOT and the Governor’s office to halt camera installation and instead consider increased yellow light timing and other non-red light camera interventions, if needed, that will actually promote safety. If the cameras are installed, the Chamber will collect and openly review with the Village and the public all the safety data going forward for this intersection to reveal if safety has actually improved or worsened. In addition, we will measure and address the impact of these cameras on driver behavior, visitor experience, and local commerce and workforce. If the cameras are installed, we strongly believe this data will show that the cameras have had a negative impact on safety, as well as on other areas of concern, and we will push for camera removal.
We will continue our efforts to prevent or ultimately remove red light cameras at this intersection and we will keep you informed about the status of these efforts. As we go forward, we would welcome the entire Village Board to work supportively with the Chamber and businesses as we carry out this work.