The New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) has compiled accident data which shows that red light camera ticketing systems lead to more accidents, more injuries, and greater cost. Although the ultimate goal of red light cameras was to reduce injuries from right-angle crashes which are considered the most dangerous type of collisions which could result from running a red light, Senator Mike Doherty confirmed that both the number and total cost of accidents have increased since the cameras were installed. Senator Doherty is sponsoring Bill S1952 which seeks to repeal the traffic control signal monitoring system pilot program and to prohibit future use of red light cameras in the State of New Jersey.
“Before our pilot program even started, we knew from the experiences of other states that red light cameras are great at generating revenue for the government but are bad at making dangerous intersections safer for drivers,” said Doherty. “It is absolutely no surprise that red light cameras in New Jersey have failed, just as they have everywhere else, in achieving their stated goal of improving driver safety. 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.”
Twenty-four intersections in New Jersey have had red light cameras in operation for at least one full year. At those intersections, the number of right-angle accidents decreased by 15% (60 to 51), when comparing accident data from the year before the red light cameras were installed. Although this statistic initially seems positive, the severity of right-angle crashes increased, leading to more accidents involving injuries (31 versus 21) and $444,800 in increased cost.
Although the data suggests that the deterrent effect of red light cameras does not prevent right-angle accidents, the deterrent effect of red light cameras does appear to increase the number of rear-end accidents. Rear-end crashes increased by 20% (286 to 343) after red light cameras were installed, which resulted in more injuries (84 versus 74) and $728,000 in increased cost. This is because if drivers are aware of a red light camera at an intersection, they tend to unnecessarily slam on their brakes at yellow lights to avoid getting a ticket for running a red light, resulting in rear-end collisions from vehicles following too closely behind.
Overall, the total number of accidents at the 24 intersections increased from 577 to 582, with a total increased cost of nearly $1.2 million, after red light cameras were installed. The data was released as part of the “Report on Red-Light Traffic Control Signal Monitoring Systems—Second Annual Report” by the NJDOT as required by the law which established the state’s five-year pilot program to determine the effectiveness of red light cameras.
“If the Legislature does not move to immediately terminate the pilot program in light of the new data confirming that cameras make intersections more dangerous, that will be positive proof that the real purpose of red light cameras is to give government another way to reach into your pocket through tickets and fines,” added Doherty. “People across New Jersey should demand that their legislators support an immediate repeal of the red light camera pilot program. Even if your town doesn’t currently have cameras installed as part of the pilot program, they may show up in a few years if you don’t act now.”
What are your thoughts on red light cameras?
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