Report: New Jersey ticket cameras result in more wrecks

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 11/27/2012

A new state report shows that red-light cameras in use throughout New Jersey do not improve safety on roadways.

The New Jersey Department of Transportation analysis released on Monday, Nov. 26, showed that intersections posted with the so-called “automatic ticketing machines” have seen an increase in wrecks. The collisions at the 24 intersections posted for at least one year are also more costly.

Specifically, the report showed that right-angle crashes at the intersections dipped by 15 percent (from 60 to 51) in the year since the cameras were posted. However, rear-end crashes increased during the same time period by 20 percent (from 286 to 343). In all, collisions increased from 577 to 582.

The “crash severity cost” at the affected intersections also jumped by about $1.2 million.

Sen. Mike Doherty, R-Washington, said the report’s findings are no surprise. He said it’s time to take down the cameras.

“This complete failure to achieve that primary goal of increasing driver safety should lead to the immediate termination of the red-light camera pilot program,” Doherty said in a statement.

The report is the latest in a series of hits the program has taken.

For about one month during the summer the New Jersey DOT suspended 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, more than a dozen state lawmakers called for changes to lessen some of the criticisms heaped on the program.

Since then a bill offered at the statehouse is described as a “more fair system” for motorists.

Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon, R-Monmouth, is the sponsor of 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.

Included in the bill – A3285 – is a provision to give an additional one-half second leeway from automated tickets for vehicles entering an intersection once lights turn red.

O’Scanlon told “Land Line Now” the changes sought in the bill would help ensure that the ticket cameras are not viewed solely as revenue enhancers.

Doherty also introduced a bill – S1952 – to ban municipalities from adopting ordinances to post red-light cameras.

Both bills are is awaiting consideration in committees.

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

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