New Jersey lawmaker challenges ticket camera advocates

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 1/15/2013

An effort underway in New Jersey contests local governments’ use of ticket cameras.

Sen. Michael Doherty, R-Washington, is working on a bill that challenges whether the state’s red-light camera program is all about safety. Specifically, it would reroute ticket revenue from municipal budgets to the state’s Highway Safety Fund.

Doherty said that if local officials truly are concerned about safety they should support the bill.

“This legislation allows towns to keep the cameras that local officials say make their intersections safer, but not the ticket revenues their cameras generate,” Doherty said in a news release. “Every mayor and local official who is on record saying cameras are about safety, not money, should support this bill.”

The ticketing program used in 24 communities throughout the Garden State has come under increased scrutiny in recent months.

In November 2012, a New Jersey Department of Transportation analysis showed that intersections posted with the ticket cameras 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.

Doherty said that he questions whether local officials would continue to employ the ticket cameras if they no longer get a cut of the money.

“How many towns and local officials will continue to demand the opportunity to install red-light cameras ... if their share of ticket revenues is cut off? My guess is very few.”

Doherty has a separate bill that would simply prohibit municipalities from adopting ordinances to post red-light cameras. He has an online petition to rally support for the bill – S1952.

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

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