Illinois Editorial: Politicians have exploited red-light cameras. But the cams do make travel safer.

Every motorist has been through this teeth-clenching moment: You approach an intersection with a traffic light. You quickly scan the streetscape. Is this one of those intersections with a dreaded red-light camera? Are you going to get slapped with a wallet wallop of a ticket because the yellow light didn’t give you enough time to cross — or simply because City Hall wants the cash?

Driver anxiety about red-light cameras is warranted, given how Chicago and suburban governments have used them like ATMs. Remember the kickback scheme that enabled a red-light camera vendor to secure the city’s lucrative camera contract, and ultimately led to prison terms for the vendor’s ex-CEO and a City Hall operative? And how about those suburban pols who put cameras at intersections with low crash rates, just so they could beef up their local revenues?