Forget slowing down. Assemblyman Declan O'Scanlon (R-13) wants to see the state's red light camera program come to a complete stop.
O'Scanlon spoke at the Doubletree Hotel in Tinton Falls on Monday and revealed video evidence showing yellow light times at many red light camera intersections are shorter than the time prescribed by law.
The assemblyman has been rallying against use of the cameras for some time now, calling for the banning of the devices on the grounds that rather than promoting the safety for which they are touted.
He says they actually cause more accidents with the shortened yellow light time and people slamming on brakes and claims that they only serve to generate income for towns. And, O'Scanlon has further alleged that the cameras leave traffic law enforcement in the hands of the private companies that lease them and stand to profit from being overly zealous.
"We have already destroyed the credibility of the claims that this program is about safety — it's not, red light cameras don't improve safety, they only serve the purpose of picking the pockets of already beleaguered NJ motorists," O'Scanlon said in a release. "The credibility of this program was on life support, today we pull the plug."
In Shrewsbury, where installation of the cameras have been pursued for two heavily trafficked intersections — Route 35 and Shrewsbury Avenue, and Route 35 and Sycamore Avenue — Councilman Tom Menapace had told Patch in a previous interview that the borough would receive a percentage of every ticket issued.
Towns pay to lease the cameras from private companies such as American Traffic Solutions, which is the company for which Shrewsbury was preparing bid specs.
Menapace had said that safety was the main thrust of his and some on council members' concerns, not the revenue-generating component of the devices. He had said that with the estimated 30,000 to 50,000 cars traversing the small 3,000-resident borough daily along Route 35, upping police patrols in the areas of concern was not feasible or practical.
According to a previous police report given to Patch, the intersection of Route 35 and Sycamore Avenue has seen 18 accidents from the start of 2010 to July 2012. Route 35 and Shrewsbury Avenue has seen 10 accidents over the same time. The highest number of accidents recorded at each intersection during a single month over that two and a half-year span has been two, not as high a figure as Menapace had anticipated.
O'Scanlon thinks that the lights' implied illegalities and revenue-generating components to the private companies that sell them and municipalities that implement them supersede them serving any greater good traffic purpose.
"We now have unequivocal proof that these systems are being operated illegally under the law," the assemblyman said in a release. "By the DOT's own standards and statements, any camera shown to have a yellow duration that is too short must be shut down."
O'Scanlon said he worked with an expert in video timing to examine yellow light duration and found them to be shorter at at least six of the dozen intersections studied.
He said the New Jersey Department of Transport (DOT) has stated that any red light camera shown to have a deficient yellow time would not be adjusted and would be shut down and taken out of the program.
"Every day these cameras are permitted to operate they are issuing illegal tickets to hundreds of innocent people," he said.
The red light camera program is used by a small group of New Jersey towns, and is considered a pilot program.
The issue of traffic light timing led to a recent near-statewide suspension — and subsequent reactivation — of red light camera use by Gov. Chris Christie, as the New Jersey Department of Transportation found that several towns had given out tickets while using the incorrect yellow-light timing.
By law, only 25 towns throughout the state are currently permitted to operate the cameras. Interested municipalities must apply for inclusion in the pilot program, and there is a waiting list.
that allows the red light camera pilot program expires in December 2014,
and it would have to be extended for more cameras to be installed
throughout the state.