Written by Christopher Sheldon
Forget slowing down—Republican Assemblyman Declan O'Scanlon wants to see the state's red light camera program come to a complete stop.
O'Scanlon, one of several legislators who have attacked the program, revealed video evidence showing yellow light times at many red light camera intersections are shorter than the time proscribed by law, during a speech at the Doubletree Hotel in Tinton Falls on Monday.
"We now have unequivocal proof that these systems are being operated illegally under the law,” O'Scanlon said in a statement. “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, all of which are in the northern half of New Jersey.
The assemblyman showed the videos of a number of intersections on Monday.
"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. "The credibility of this program was on life support, today we pull the plug."
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.
Similarly, Republican state Sen. Michael Doherty has dinged the program as being more of a money grab than a safety measure, sponsoring legislation that would dump all the revenue from cameras statewide into the state Highway Safety Fund.
“This legislation allows towns to keep the cameras that local officials say make their intersections safer, but not the ticket revenues their cameras generate,” said Doherty in a statement earlier this year. “Every mayor and local official who is on record saying cameras are about safety, not money, should support this bill. If they don’t, it will prove their previous support of cameras under the guise of safety was fraudulent.”
The state’s red light camera pilot program, which includes Deptford and Glassboro in Gloucester County, has been the subject of several lawsuits—one against American Traffic Solutions (ATS), which runs the cameras in Deptford, Glassboro and Gloucester Township, and another against Redflex, which runs cameras elsewhere, including Cherry Hill.
Both suits have been settled, however—ATS agreed to pay out $4.2 million, while Redflex will pay $2.1 million, amounting to about $8.50 per red-light ticket challenged in the class actions, with some exceptions.
Both suits claimed the cameras broke the rules—including the timing on yellow lights—established by the DOT for the program.
A total of 76 red-light intersections are included in the DOT’s pilot program, which officials said won’t expand before December 2014, when it’s slated to expire if not renewed by the legislature.
Additional reporting by Bryan Littel.