Ald. Tony Zielinski
Press Release

Milwaukee should have red-light camera systems

Statement of Alderman Tony Zielinski - October 3, 2017

By - Oct 3rd, 2017 10:21 am
Red light camera system. Photo is in the Public Domain.

Red light camera system. Photo is in the Public Domain.

Running red lights in Milwaukee has become too commonplace, and – in some cases – a reckless gamble ending in death.

Early yesterday morning at N. 35th and W. Capitol Dr. a driver ran a red light and T-boned another vehicle in the intersection. The horrific crash killed a 27-year-old woman and her 11-month-old daughter and seriously injured a passenger. The driver of the striking vehicle fled the scene but was later arrested at a hospital.

We need to be able to do a better job of deterring people from running red lights at all times across our city, and that’s why I am pushing the state Legislature to allow Milwaukee to put in place a citywide red-light camera system. The safety benefits of such a system are clear as the reckless driving epidemic we are seeing across the city (punctuated by people foolishly and dangerously running red lights) is costing lives and causing serious injuries and property damage.

But there’s also the benefit of bringing much needed revenue from red-light citations. In Chicago red-light running violators are fined $100 or more. In some jurisdictions, under-pavement sensors or other technology can allow red-light cameras to capture speeds in addition to drivers running intersections. This possible speeding “multiplier” could bring additional citation revenue to the city.

I urge citizens to join me in pushing for this important tool that could help save lives, make drivers slow down and stop running red lights, and provide much needed revenue to the City of Milwaukee.

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10 thoughts on “Milwaukee should have red-light camera systems”

  1. Vincent Hanna says:

    Yes it’s been such a huge success in Chicago. Speed limits stopped people from speeding too so red light cameras will totally work.

  2. Al Capone says:

    The company behind that in Chicago was busted for fraud in conjunction with that program. Cameras malfunctioned, times were set to purposely entrap drivers, funds were diverted. etc. and there was a mass public outcry against it after the racket was exposed. Of course if bribes and payoffs are involved in Milwaukee like happened in Chicago it’ll be deemed a “success” by those getting paid off.

  3. Devin says:

    Red light and speed cameras are laughably unpopular wherever they are put into place and there are several stories of cities getting rid of them. It also seems rare for a local politician to openly admit that such projects are motivated by revenue.

    Running red lights isn’t an epidemic. Your average driver on the road isn’t running red lights at every opportunity. A red light camera isn’t going to stop someone who is distracted by their phone, drunk, or driving a stolen vehicle. What it will do is cause people to panic stop every time a light turns yellow, falsely ticket people making permissible right hand turns, and make Zielinski the least popular alderman in the city.

  4. Shaia says:

    There IS an epidemic of drivers running red lights. I choose to live car free, and am nearly run down by red light runners and stop sign ignoring driver, every single day. I agree that we need this deterrent, as well as better marked crosswalks, and stronger penalties for all traffic violations.

  5. Karen says:

    Yes! I am afraid to go through an intersection when I have a green light until I have checked in all directions–have almost been hit multiple times by people running reds. And stop signs. Apparently they’re only suggestions, not laws. I wholeheartedly support this.

  6. Matt says:

    Red light cameras make people safer. We are not at a point where it is the government’s responsibility to keep us safe.

    Indeed, when one sees a press release from a politician promoting red light cameras the only rational response is to check what corporation is funding the politicians viewpoint. Mr. Public Safety hear was whining about streetcars last week and now he’s onto the hazards of speeding.

    500 people got shot in Vegas two days ago. Its too soon to talk about red light cameras.

  7. Zachary says:

    While this is well intentioned; perhaps Zielinski should do some actual research, with empirical evidence from other municipalities and cities throughout the country that have discontinued their red light camera programs.

    Chicago in example was recently sued and settled a multi-million dollar settlement.

    “A Tribune-sponsered study of the red light program in 2014 found that nearly 40 percent of the the intersections equipped with the cameras are likely making the streets more dangerous. The study found that the cameras caused a 22 percent increase in rear-end crashes, yet provided no safety benefit at intersections that never had a problem with right-angle crashes in the first place.”

    “What I can tell you is, ‘I told you so,'” said Beale, City Council Transportation Committee chairman, when told of the settlement Thursday. “If you recall, years ago I said the whole red light camera issue was more about revenue than it was about public safety.”

    Many Southern California communities (Los Angeles, Orange, & San Diego Counties) have discontinued their red light programs as noted in this article:

    “Revenue from the cameras had a “minimal impact,” City Manager David Cavazos said in the report, adding that less than 50 percent of red-light activations went to court. Legislative changes hurt the sustainability of red-light cameras in the city, too, the report said.”

    “The city LOST money between 2008 and 2010 with its red-light camera system, as expenses over the two-year span were more than $1 million higher than camera revenue, according to the report. The net revenue gained from 2008 to 2013 totaled $291,583, or $58,316.60 annually, the report said.”

    “Garden Grove was the first Orange County city with red-light cameras in 1999. By 2007, seven cities in the county had them. Supporters said they reduce accidents. But a number of cities, including Huntington Beach and Laguna Woods, have dropped them after complaints that the red-light camera program was too Big Brother, a cash cow or actually encouraged vehicles to stop too abruptly, prompting rear-end collisions.”

    This one from San Diego Tribune:

    “Seems to me that such a program can only be justified if there are demonstrable facts that prove that they raise the safety awareness and decrease accidents in our city,” Filner said of the cameras. “The data, in fact, does not really prove it.”

  8. Greg says:

    I don’t know the solution to dangerous traffic, but it’s gotten very bad in Milwaukee. Every time I drive I see people driving reckless and blowing through red lights. I support red light cameras. People should drive better when more eyes are on them. Safety is #1. Also the push for autonomous cars and making the city ready for them is a big deal.

  9. Michael lisowski says:

    I was for red light cameras too. Tonight at a 5th District Community Mtg I brought it up. The officer said that in the end run those cities abandoned the idea in part due to legal issues. However, if as a citizen we witness something , we would have
    TO testify in court

  10. Paul Gerard says:

    In my mind, the Chicago experience is not a reason to drop the idea. Most intersections have an numbered countdown until the yellow light. This gives drivers plenty of warning to stop in time to avoid a camera ticket, and to eliminate ‘panic stops.’ I have not seen any comparable or valid data to suggest that cameras could not be effective if administered properly. And the idea of a revenue or a loss? Not relevant. Police traffic controls cost money too. And, if the city makes money from it, what’s the problem? If there is any chance that it will save a life by avoiding a high speed red-light running accident, what’s the problem?

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