Having just been in Chicago, one of the most prevalent subject of conversation (despite the football season of course) is the ever-rising number of tickets being given to drivers. The Daley administration first made Chicago the most expensive parking city in the country with a corrupt deal that bordered on the criminal. The city was also accused of corrupt dealings with the company handling red-light ticking. However, none of this has curtailed the city contractors and officials clipping motorists for revenue in the form of endless ticketing. The latest outrage was the city reducing the time of yellow lights — a small tweak of a second that resulted in nearly $8 million in new tickets. Drivers are being treated as sources for revenue and hit with the equivalent of speed traps and short lights to generate more and more tickets.
Near my mother’s house in Chicago, she constantly warns me of such a trap that suddenly reduces car speed to a crawl. The reason is that it is being treated as a school zone even though there is no school nearby. All of her neighbors have been clipped despite driving less then 40 miles per hour on the main street.
The short yellow lights resulted in thousands of new $100 tickets from red light cameras. These cameras seem to function as a new hidden tax but the cost is not just cash by destroying the driving records of citizens – impacting insurance and, for many, their jobs.
Chicago may have picked up this idea from the Florida Department of Transportation which in 2011 secretly reduced the length of yellow lights and bringing in a windfall. Since most people have a common notion of the length of time, a small tweak can catch them off guard and snare their cars in a red light run.
It would seem logical that all yellow lights should have a uniform standard time to avoid this type of manipulation. At a minimum, Chicagoans have got to rise up against this type of revenue-generated traffic trap. People are struggling in Chicago and they do not need city officials manipulating lights to find new ways to siphon us more of their money (before they have to pay the over-priced meters of course).