By Chris Magee
For two years, I lived in an apartment off of North Aurora Road, so with just the trip between home and the Sun's former office on Ogden Avenue I went through the intersection of North Aurora and Route 59 hundreds of times.
I hate that intersection. Traveling on North Aurora the light is barely green for a few seconds before it turns yellow again, and if you're trying to turn left off of 59 heading north you might sit there for three or four cycles of the light. The turning lane isn't long enough and you have to sit there half in and half out of the lane hoping those people rushing past you don't scrape off your mirror. Turning onto 59, sometimes traffic is backed up all the way to the intersection, so you don't even have anywhere to go in the brief time alloted to you to make that turn.
So with that in mind, I can understand why people drive crazy in that area. But understanding it doesn't mean I approve of it. I have seen some crazy stuff there and the only reason I haven't seen multiple accidents is because luckily someone else was paying attention. Four cars going through the light on red is the minimum most of the time.
That's why I'm a big fan of the new red light cameras at that intersection. I know many people say it's just a money-making venture for the city, or that it will cause more accidents because people will slam on their breaks to avoid getting a ticket. But I am at heart a law-and-order type and I really hate the kind of crazy driving I would see in that area.
According to Police Chief Dial in his column in Monday's paper, drivers don't seem to be changing their behavior much. Even though the intersection is clearly marked, the cameras, which went live Jan. 1, have caught more than 30 violations per day. Right now the police are only sending warnings, but soon the real fines will be coming.
I live in a different part of town now and I don't go that way much, but last Saturday I did take that route and I saw in my rear-view mirror a flash light up the intersection as the camera captured someone doing something they shouldn't have. That got me to wondering if the cameras were making a difference.
So my question for you is now that the cameras have been installed, have you noticed any change in behavior? Are people driving more carefully there or is it as nuts as it always has been? If behavior isn't changing yet, do you think it will when the fines start going out?
UPDATE: As of Feb. 1, the warning period is over and the fines will now begin in earnest. Has anyone been caught by these cameras yet, either in the warning phase or the real thing?