Routes 59 and 64: no more than usual tickets being issued despite driver concerns


Photo by Leslie Fireman

The red light cameras at Routes 59 and 64 have been a source of discussion in recent months.

By Anthony Cortez, Reporter

Recently, students at West Chicago Community High School have expressed a belief there has been an uptick in the number of traffic citations issued because of the traffic cameras at the intersection of Routes 59 and 64 in West Chicago.

Traffic cameras on Routes 59 and 64 have allegedly been an issue as citizens claim they have been ticketed while making a legal right on red.

According to sources at the West Chicago Police Department, these drivers are actually violating the red-light law by rolling through the stop. According to the authorities, during a red light, one must “come to a complete stop then proceed with awareness.”

“The law says when you pull on a right turn, there’s the line that you have to stop before the line – completely stop. Once your wheels stop, then you can turn right on red,” said School Resource Officer Mike Levato.

He noted that while drivers are fined for violations involving red light cameras, the offenses do not “go against your driver’s license.”

Previously, citizens took to Facebook to complain about tickets issued at the multi-lane intersection in West Chicago, which has been the source of studies in the past.

“How can one fight a red light ticket at the corner of 59 and 64? I must have traveled through that intersection a thousand times and now I got two in the last three weeks?” said Facebook user Dennis Maher in a post dated Oct. 13.

Several respondents suggested Maher contest the ticket by viewing camera footage, which is available online.

“What we get, because I’ve done those red-light camera things – so it goes to a company, and the thing’s flashing everybody. As soon as you cross the line and then stop, it still sends the ticket that you didn’t stop before the line. That goes to the company, the company then sends it to us, and we review them. Of those that we review, probably twenty to twenty-five percent are actually ticketable [offenses],” said Levato.

Approximately three people at the West Chicago Police Department review “hundreds” of captures on the video footage each day.

The traffic light cameras are constantly monitoring for two offenses: rolling through a red light, or moving straight through an intersection when the light is red. The police department also has access to the cameras, and is able to review footage when a crash or incident occurs.

Cars proceed on the green light at Route 59 and North Avenue. (Photo by Leslie Fireman)

The cameras at Route 59 and North Ave. also keep tabs on the left-turn lane.

“So, you’ll see the car pull up to the turn lane. You can see the light: it has a green arrow. It will turn yellow, and then once it turns red, if your car is before the line and you go through, [the camera] captures it and then sends it to us,” said Levato.

Over the summer, another Facebook user prompted a discussion centered on the number of tickets issued for red light violations at Routes 59 and 64.

“Wondering how many drivers have received citations from the cameras on right turns? Driving South on 59 and turning West onto 64? Or driving North on 59 and turning east onto 64?” said Mary Lynn Lundgren Yarter in a post dated July 27.

Respondents shared similar reactions, suggesting Yarter either contest the ticket, or that a rolling stop may have been to blame.

While Levato was not sure whether there had been an uptick in the number of red-light violations at the intersection, he said that “over a long time period, they have significantly decreased.”

Another look at the intersection of Route 59 and North Ave. in West Chicago (Photo by Leslie Fireman)

According to Levato, the key to avoiding a ticket at the intersection of Routes 59 and 64 is simple.

“Blow a red light almost guarantee going to get a ticket. Come to the complete sensation of movement before the line, safe to do so, you can make a right on red,” said Levato. 

According to the City of West Chicago, red light violations cause “nearly 200,000 crashes, more than 800 deaths and 180,000 injuries” every year. Route 59 and North Avenue used to be one of the worst locations in West Chicago for traffic accidents.

The intersection was expanded over the years to minimize the number of incidents, “but we still get tons of accidents there. And it’s usually just because drivers [think] ‘I can make it, I can make it,'” said Levato.

Other intersections with red light cameras include Washington Ave. and Route 59. Previously, there was a camera at Route 38 and Washington Ave., but the device was removed after construction occurred at the intersection. The police department conducts case studies based on traffic patterns to determine where to place the cameras.

However, speeding is actually the most common offense the West Chicago Police Department tickets for, not red-light violations.