New Jersey lawmakers call for ticket camera changes

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Much has been made in recent months at the New Jersey statehouse about red-light cameras. The enforcement devices are used in 24 communities throughout the state.

Concern about the so-called “automated ticketing machines” has spurred multiple lawmakers to call for changes.

The push has intensified following a decision over the summer by the New Jersey Department of Transportation to suspend the doling out of tickets in about 80 percent of towns around the state that employ the money-making devices.

At the time, concerns were raised about whether the cameras at 63 of the 85 intersections statewide had adequate yellow light timing.

Despite assurances shortly thereafter from the state DOT that all yellow times are set in accordance with state law, some state lawmakers are pursuing changes to lessen some of the criticisms heaped on the program.

Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon, R-Monmouth, has introduced a bill to increase yellow times at intersections outfitted with the devices by one full second. Another change would reduce the fine amount for turning right on red from $85 to $20.

Currently, running a red light and turning right on red without coming to a full stop can result in $85 fines.

Additionally, O’Scanlon wants an additional one-half second leeway from automated tickets for vehicles entering an intersection once lights turn red.

He said the changes would help ensure that the ticket cameras are not viewed solely as revenue enhancers.

“If you do all of those things you will minimize red-light running dramatically,” O’Scanlon previously told “Land Line Now.”

Joining O’Scanlon in calling for change to the state’s program is Sen. Shirley Turner.

Turner, D-Mercer/Hunterdon, announced plans this week to introduce a bill to require additional signage at affected intersections to better warn approaching drivers.

“It is clear that there are many issues that need to be corrected with (ticket cameras). Having appropriate road signs that clearly spell out what is and is not allowed at these lights will keep people safe and protect their wallets from overzealous fines,” Turner said in a statement.

Another change sought by Turner would forbid right turns on red at affected intersections.

“If the real goal of the red-light cameras is to increase safety, then removing right turn on red from those dangerous intersections is common sense.”

Both bills can be considered as early as this fall at the New Jersey statehouse. The state is in the first year of a two-year regular session.

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

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