In the debate over whether or not to use red light ticket cameras, New Jersey has been the primary battleground. For those who don’t know, the cameras were installed to help prevent accidents by encouraging drivers to be more careful to not run a red light. When the camera detects a vehicle crossing the intersection while the light is red, it snaps a picture of the license plate and automatically sends a ticket to the address that the vehicle is registered to.
The NJ DOT put these automatic ticket machines at 85 intersections across the state that have a history of accidents, and just last Monday, the DOT released the results of analysis done on the intersections. It turns out that not only do the cameras not help to reduce accidents; they actually make the intersections MORE dangerous. The report showed that while the number of right angle crashes were reduced by 15%, the number of rear-end crashes (caused by drivers stopping short at the intersection) increased by 20%. The report also stated that not only the frequency, but also the “crash severity cost” of the accidents was greater this year.
It is thought that perhaps the issue is that the light does not spend enough time on yellow before moving on to red. This results in drivers who are unfamiliar with the intersections getting ticketed while local drivers who know where the cameras are installed have to stop suddenly whenever they see a yellow light. Both of these instances are extremely dangerous, especially for truckers, who are less likely to be familiar with local roads and who have a much longer stopping distance.
Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon of Monmouth County has put forth a bill that would increase yellow times at intersections with cameras by at least one full second. The assemblyman also said that in some towns the cameras are viewed solely as revenue enhancers. When the same devices that are supposed to be keeping motorists safe are used to scam them out of money at the expense of their safety, something is extremely wrong with the system.
Sen. Mike Doherty of Washington has said that the findings of the report are no surprise, and that the cameras need to be taken down. “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.
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