Traffic Enforcement Unit
The Village of Arlington Heights is located in Cook County, Illinois approximately 17 miles Northwest of Chicago. With a census population of 76,031 permanent residents, the Village ranks as the second largest Chicago suburb in the County, and the eleventh largest city within the State. Arlington Heights is also home to 3800 various businesses, including the Arlington Park Racetrack, which is recognized as a premier facility both nationally and throughout the thoroughbred horse racing world.
Each workday an approximate workforce of 46,000 employees transverse the Village by motor vehicles and other forms of public transportation. The Village’s vast traffic infrastructure is contained within a mere 16.1 square miles. Three governmental agencies maintain the 265 miles of paved roadway throughout the Village: 223 miles of municipal streets, 32 miles of State highways and 10 miles of roadway maintained by Cook County. Located along all of these are 1739 intersections of which 60 contain traffic light signals. In addition, the Union Pacific Railroad supports eight grade crossings and two commuter stations adjacent to Northwest Highway. The heavy traffic generated by the commuting public has made Arlington Heights the busiest depot on the 'Metra' commuter line.
In Calendar Year 2005, the Arlington Heights Police Department handled a total of 30,128 calls for service - of which 10.2% were for traffic crash investigations of all types. Of these 3,082 traffic crashes, 380 involved personal injuries and 2 involved fatalities.
The main goal of the Traffic Enforcement Unit is to REDUCE TRAFFIC CRASHES, both the serious ones involving injury as well as the minor "fender benders". Our Traffic Officers work to accomplish this goal by implementing activities involving the Three 'E's = Education, Engineering and Enforcement. This translates into everyday programs and services such as the following:
- Traffic safety presentations and awareness programs
- Interfacing with the Village Traffic Engineer and other authorities concerning roadway configuration and signage issues
- Utilization of the 'Stealth Stat' speed measuring device to monitor the volume and speeds encountered at a specific roadway location
- Focused Selective Enforcement Patrol
- Driving Under The Influence (DUI) and seatbelt compliance checkpoints and patrols
- Placement of a Radar Traffic Trailer in areas of speed concerns to increase driver awareness
- Deployment of the Mannequin Decoy Squad Car
- Partnerships with the community with the Citizen Assisted Radar Program
The Traffic Enforcement Unit works closely with other Department officers, Village departments and community agencies to resolve traffic issues at the neighborhood level. These efforts are aimed to reduce the number of vehicle, bicycle, pedestrian collisions, as well as incidents of drinking and driving.
Traffic Unit Staff
The Traffic Enforcement Unit is located within the Patrol Division of the Police Department. It is supervised by a Police Sergeant and is currently comprised of three Police Officers. The officers work both morning and evening shifts of eight hours.
Depending on weather and/or seasonal conditions, the Traffic Officers generally conduct their work activities in either marked or unmarked Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor squad cars or on our Harley Davidson Road King Police Special motorcycles. Police motorcycle training is very demanding both physically and mentally. Officers must learn to operate an almost 900 pound motorcycle, be able to avoid hazards, detect violators and safely apprehend them.The police motorcycle is capable of moving through traffic much easier than the squad cars.The motorcycle is also capable of accelerating quickly, which makes it the ideal tool for apprehending speeding violators.The Arlington Heights Police Department has an outstanding safety record.
In addition to traffic enforcement duties, the Traffic Officers are tasked with a variety of special responsibilities. They are instrumental in providing traffic control during special events in the Village, take the lead during holiday parades, and provide escort duty during funeral processions.
Nobody likes to get a ticket, and the men and women in law enforcement are made painfully aware of this on many occasions. Officers assigned to the Traffic Enforcement Unit have asked to be assigned there. They strongly believe they can make a difference. They realize they probably will not win many popularity contests, but studies have proven time and time again that what they do will help to make our community a safer place to live in. They all accept the necessity of what they do and strive to present a strong, professional enforcement posture.
Selective Enforcement in School Related Zones
One of the duties of the Traffic Enforcement Unit is to be in the vicinity of the various schools within the Village during arrival or dismissal times. Officers utilize speed detection devices in these posted 20 MPH school speed limit zones and cite traffic violators when children are present. This helps to maintain safe driving habits by all motorists, and assure that the students and school buses arrive and depart safely.
Traffic officers also initiate and conduct follow-up investigations on reports of school bus stop-arm violations while children are entering and exiting school buses. This violation is outlined in the Illinois Vehicle Code under Section 625 ILCS 5 / 11-1414. Violators are required to appear in court, and a conviction will result in a mandatory three-month drivers license suspension or one-year suspension for a second or subsequent conviction.
Commercial Vehicle/Overweight Truck Enforcement
One of the specialized functions of the Traffic Enforcement Unit is safeguarding the motoring public through the enforcement of commercial truck regulations. These regulations are set forth in the Illinois Vehicle Code for 'Second Division Vehicles', and provides for distinct commercial driver and vehicle licensing requirements, mandates the presence and condition of vehicle equipment, and specifies vehicle weight and dimensional size restrictions.
The Traffic Officers have received specialized training in this area of traffic law, and they provide greater safety for traveling motorists by pursuing commercial vehicle violations. Many of these violations, if not corrected, could be a contributory cause to a future traffic crash.
Additionally, commercial vehicle weight and size restrictions are in place to protect the motoring public. The enforcement of these regulations assures that over-weight or over-dimension vehicles travel only on 'designated truck routes' where the streets are built to handle the heavier loads. This preserves the condition of our local streets that were not designed to handle the heavy weight loads that are commonly transported across our interstate highways.
If there is no other way for commercial vehicle to get to it’s destination, an overweight or oversize permit may be issued to traverse the weight-restricted roadway. This permit must be obtained in advance with the approval of the Illinois Department of Transportation.
Traffic Radar Trailer
The Traffic Radar Trailer is a dual-purpose stationary radar trailer designed to raise public awareness on streets where unsafe speed is a potential or existing problem. It also serves to alert drivers about their speed when they pass through an area where the trailer is parked. A stationary radar unit inside the trailer tracks the approaching vehicle and displays the speed on a signboard. Above this signboard is displayed the posted speed limit. The driver is instantly made aware of his/her speed and can make the necessary corrections. Studies have shown that deploying this trailer in high incident collision locations can significantly reduce injury traffic accidents. The radar trailer is powered by a battery, and also has a solar panel on top for trickle recharging that can extend a trailer visit to approximately ten days during sunny weather.
Stealth Stat Speeding Monitoring
The Traffic Enforcement Unit obtained new state-of-the-art equipment to monitor speeding in neighborhoods called the 'Stealth Stat'. This speed-measuring device, is a small box typically attached to a light or other utility pole, and monitors traffic volume on a typical residential street, as well as recording the high, average and low speeds of motorists for up to a two-day period.
The Stealth Stat collects, sorts and analyzes this speed data using a Doppler radar unit and computer. The data is then reviewed internally by the traffic officers and shared with any interested residents. The resulting speed data will undoubtedly prove invaluable to the Traffic Enforcement Unit in determining which residential streets require more monitoring and enforcement efforts.
The Traffic Enforcement Unit also received additional cutting-edge technology to assist with daily traffic enforcement activities - the Kustom Signals ProLaser® III LIDAR unit.
L.I.D.A.R. (LIght Detection And Ranging) is the latest speed detection technology for police use. The LIDAR unit emits approximately 200 to 300 light pulses per second of infrared laser light to measure both the range and velocity of targets. The beam width is approximately 3 feet wide at 1,000 feet, making this unit very target specific. The laser is a major headache for any speeder targeted by its invisible light because the laser's tightly concentrated beam can pick out the target it's operator chooses.
LIDAR gives the officer the ability to single out a specific target vehicle and acquire its speed with absolute precision. It calculates only the speeds of targets that the operator chooses. Aiming is helped by a heads-up display (HUD). This unique speed detection unit will prove useful on heavily traveled roadways and where the speeds encountered are higher. Since many speeding violators regularly utilize radar detectors in their vehicles to avoid receiving tickets and enhance their ability to speed, the LIDAR technology offers a new way for officers to catch and cite these chronic offenders. Even the best radar/laser detector is hard-pressed to spot a laser beam unless it is hit nearly dead-on.
Citizen Assisted Radar Program
This community-based assistance program provides Arlington Heights residents with the opportunity to help identify locations where speeding is problematic. Citizens can participate by observing and recording the speeds and descriptions of vehicles on their neighborhood streets. The program is designed to educate drivers of the community concerning speeding vehicles, and to encourage safe driving habits.
After contacting the Arlington Heights Police Department, residents will receive basic training in the use of a battery operated hand-held Doppler radar unit, as well as conforming with program requirements. The hand-held radar unit will then be loaned out to Arlington Heights residents, free of charge, for a one - week use period. Residents are asked to collect speed data on the various days and times they believe speeding is occurring in their residential neighborhood, and to submit a written log of their observations. The data will later be analyzed by traffic officers to determine the presence of any violation patterns so that proper selective enforcement activities can be initiated.
In addition, the Arlington Heights Police Department may send a letter to the registered owner(s) of the vehicle(s) found in violation of the posted speed limits, advising them of the observed violation, and encouraging the operators to drive at or below the posted speed limits. Often, drivers who speed through residential neighborhoods are unaware of the negative impact that their actions have on maintaining a safe and peaceful neighborhood environment. These letters are for informational purposes only, they do not affect driving records nor do they impose any fines.
Traffic Safety Grants
The Arlington Heights Police Department has received several traffic safety grants from the Illinois Department of Transportation - Traffic Safety Division. One of these, the Integrated Mini-Grant Enforcement Program (IMaGE), provides for an increased police traffic enforcement presence to directly address contributory factors of motor vehicle traffic crashes.
Our officers work towards the goals of reducing the average speed of drivers to correspond with the posted speed limits, promoting voluntary compliance with occupant restraint statutes and arresting drivers under the influence. These enforcement initiatives are performed in order to improve the overall vehicular and pedestrian safety within the Village of Arlington Heights.
Railroad Grade Crossings
The Arlington Heights Police Department is continuing its efforts to change some of the unsafe and unlawful practices of motorists, pedestrians and train commuters at its eight railroad grade crossings and two commuter stations, by incorporating both education efforts and selective enforcement techniques to increase the public's level of compliance with railroad safety laws.
Approximately seventy (70) METRA-commuter and Union Pacific trains travel through Arlington Heights each weekday, making it one of the busiest stops along the Northwest line. The likelihood of severe injury and death for drivers, passengers and pedestrians is far greater in grade crossing train crashes than in many other types of traffic accidents, yet is among the most easily preventable of all collisions. The Illinois Vehicle Code includes the following provisions relating to movement across railroad grade crossings, and the special stops that are required upon receipt of signals of an approaching train:
- 625 ILCS 5 / 11-1011(b) and (c) - Pedestrian Disregarded Activated Railroad Crossing Signal
- 625 ILCS 5 / 18c-7503 - Trespassing On Railroad Property Prohibited
- 625 ILCS 5 / 11-1201(b) - Disobeyed Activated Railroad Crossing Signal
- 625 ILCS 5 / 11-1201(d-5) - Failure To Completely Clear Railroad Crossing
- 625 ILCS 5 / 11-1303(h) - No Parking / Standing / Stopping On Any Railroad Tracks
Safety at railroad crossings is a serious matter, and complacency with these laws may result in unnecessary injury and death, as well as court sanctioned penalties such as a $250 fine or 25 hours of community service, and possible suspension of driving privileges for vehicular violations.
By reminding people of the very avoidable dangers inherent in ignoring railroad crossing warnings, we hope to change the high-risk behavior drivers and commuters have shown in the past. A poll taken by Operation Lifesaver
recently showed that 45 percent of commuters are willing to cross railroad tracks in the face of flashing warning lights; 30 percent said that going around a lowered crossing gate "can be justified", and 20 percent of drivers said it is more acceptable to go through a gated railroad crossing than to run a red light. Whether you're a risk-taker or not, remember: You can't beat the train...!
The Arlington Heights Police Department is aware of the serious threat drunk or impaired drivers pose to the public. An intoxicated or impaired driver moving three thousand plus pounds of steel down the street is a frightening thought and a real danger. Yet it happens every hour of the day every day of the week.
In an effort to reduce impaired driving, alcohol related crashes and apprehend DUI drivers, all of our police officers receive training in the detection of impaired drivers. Officers are required to be proficient in detecting DUI drivers and administering field sobriety tests. The Police Department places a high priority on this enforcement action, and makes an ongoing effort to rid our streets of the dangerous threat posed by DUI drivers.
Studies indicate the majority of people arrested for DUI do not become repeat offenders. The embarrassment and the legal and financial impact on the offender generally serves as a deterrent. Additionally, public awareness over the strict stand taken by law enforcement has reduced the number of intoxicated or impaired drivers on our roads. That may sound like good news, and it is, but the sad fact is there are many others who ignore the potential legal and financial consequences.
Impaired Driving is an unfortunate and irresponsible act, yet it is around us each and every day. Each of us who encounters an Impaired Driver has the obligation to report that dangerous driver for the sake of our family or someone else’s. With the proliferation of cellular phones, we have a great tool to help curb impaired drivers.
When you see an impaired driver and you have a mobile/cellular phone, you can assist by:
- Carefully dialing 911 and advising the dispatcher of your location, and that you have observed a possible Impaired Driver
- Providing the dispatcher with a brief description of the dangerous driving
- Providing the make, model and color of the vehicle, and license plate information if possible
- It will also help to provide your name and telephone number in case the police officer needs more information
Please DO NOT do any of the following:
- Attempt to confront the Impaired Driver if they should stop
- Drive in an unsafe manner in an attempt to keep up with the impaired driver
It is the goal of the Traffic Enforcement Unit to maintain the Village of Arlington Heights as being one of the safest cities in which to live and drive.
If you have a complaint about a traffic-related problem, please feel free to contact us at the telephone number listed below or send us an e-mail outlining your problem.
Upon receipt of your traffic compliant, the Traffic Enforcement Unit will review the situation in your neighborhood by visiting the location, collecting data from speed studies when appropriate, and reviewing accident histories. This information, along with insights and suggestions from you and other area residents, will help us to determine which courses of action will be implemented to improve the traffic safety at the location.
To contact the Traffic Enforcement Unit, you may either call us at (847) 368-5300 or e-mail us.