New law in New Jersey allows red-light cameras

| 1/21/2008

New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine has signed a bill into law that authorizes the use of red-light cameras throughout the state. Cameras can start going up in communities around the state within 90 days.

Until now, New Jersey law has prohibited use of camera radar by law enforcement officers or agencies. The new law, previously A4314, removes the restriction for a period of five years to allow municipalities to use photo enforcement at traffic signals.

The transportation commissioner will decide in which communities it is appropriate to post the traffic cameras. Municipalities will be allowed to enter into agreements with camera manufacturers, who see 20 percent to 30 percent of the revenue generated from tickets, The News Journal in Delaware reported.

The cameras, already used in more than 300 U.S. communities, snap pictures of red-light runners’ vehicles and license plates. Tickets are mailed to the vehicles’ owners, regardless of who was driving at the time.

Supporters say the equipment encourages compliance with the law and saves lives by reducing collisions.

Assemblyman Joseph Coniglio, D-Paramus, said a study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that the cameras, combined with longer yellow lights, reduced red-light violations by 96 percent.

Opponents question the claim that cameras are solely intended to keep people safe. They also say the process denies alleged violators to confront their accusers.

Others question the effectiveness of such intersection cameras, arguing they have the potential to distract drivers and cause more fender-bender accidents.

In fact, a study paid for by the U.S. Department of Transportation showed rear-end crashes actually increased in cities with red-light cameras, as motorists stopped abruptly at yellow lights to avoid tickets.

To view other legislative activities of interest for New Jersey, click here.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor