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Illinois: Lawsuit Challenges Red Light Camera Trap
Lawyer takes on a confusing right turn lane in Crestwood, Illinois that generated $3.1 million in red light camera profit.

Cicero and Cal Sag via Google Maps
A group of motorists are looking to put a stop to a red light camera trap in Crestwood, Illinois. In a suit recently filed in a Cook County court, the group accused the village of generating $3,170,648 in profit by confusing drivers turning right at the intersection of Cicero Avenue and Cal Sag Road. Motorists are being sent tickets in the mail for "running a red light" in a dedicated right turn lane.

"The problem here is that there is no visible red light to stop at," construction expert Timothy G. Galarnyk explained. "When looking to the left, there is no visible red light at which to stop."

Galarnyk measured the sight lines at the intersection and compared them to the standards set down in the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD). This federal rulebook establishes a uniform system for the positioning of traffic signals and signs. In his analysis for the court, Galarnyk concluded that the right turn tickets could not be valid because the set up is contrary to drivers' expectations.

"The construction of this type of intersection... must have either its own traffic control signal lights, a stop sign, or a yield sign," Galarnyk wrote. "This kind of intersection is rather unusual and not often seen. This is exactly why it must be treated differently than the normal right turn lane that is adjacent to the through lanes of travel."

Crestwood believes the traffic lights at the intersection govern whether motorists should stop in the turn lane, but motorists in the turn lane are facing away from the intersection. The confusion has helped to generate 56,707 tickets worth $100 each. The lawsuit seeks a full refund for all of those who have paid the fine.

"Plaintiffs desire to travel through the intersection and not receive red light camera violations when properly obeying the Illinois Vehicle Code," attorney Thomas A. Zimmerman Jr wrote in his complaint to the court. "However, plaintiffs and class members cannot do so without unnecessarily stopping when turning right at the intersection, which may cause additional traffic congestion and poses a risk of danger to themselves and otherws who are aware that the Illinois Vehicle Code does not require vehicles turning right at the intersection to wait until the traffic signals for the through lanes change to green."

The suit is asking the judge in the case to issue an emergency injunction preventing the issuance of tickets at the location.

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