Are you in favor of speeding cameras in N.J.?
We’re about 4 months until the dreaded red light camera pilot program is to go away.
And most motorists can’t wait for that day to come.
Because of the efforts of Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon who’s been a tireless advocate for the beleaguered New Jersey driver in showing how just how the cameras rip us off, they will die.
But not without a fight. And not without a new wrinkle.
Assemblyman John Wiesnewski, the head of the Assembly Transportation Committee, and possible gubernatorial candidate, not only wants them to say, but is looking into the possibility of installing speeding cameras in certain locations – such as school zones and construction zones.
And it’s hard to argue against slowing down motorists in places such as this.
After all, who wants to be in favor of having motorists drive carelessly when children are present as well as road workers?
But let’s remember, this is New Jersey – and once cameras such as these are installed – it takes an act of God to get rid of them.
Or tireless advocates like Assemblyman O’Scanlon.
And besides, any politician that tells you they’re about safety is using that argument as a cover to extort you out of your hard earned money
That’s why I like to refer to this as “the Shakedown State!”
The debate comes as companies that operate the cameras face critical headlines over technical glitches in New Jersey and accusations of bribery in Illinois.
"I am the only person in the state — certainly in the state Legislature — who has taken a critical, serious look at how effective these things have been," said O’Scanlon (R-Monmouth). "If anyone else had been paying attention, we would have had this program revoked and would have stopped ripping off our residents and constituents two years ago."
But Wisniewski said honest debate about the effectiveness of the cameras had taken a back seat to "overheated rhetoric."
"We have lots of cars, lots of traffic and we need to find ways to make motoring safer. If we can create enforcement mechanisms that will deter people from violating the law, we ought to with an open mind look at using them," Wisniewski (D-Middlesex) said. "People driving too fast in construction zones put workers’ lives in danger. People going too fast in school zones put children’s lives in danger. No doubt about it."
Representatives of Xerox State and Local Solutions, a company that run cameras in other states that are equipped to clock speeders, have held discussions with New Jersey officials about speed cameras.
A company spokesman, Carl Langsenkamp, said the meetings were to "provide education on the use of speed cameras in construction work zone / school safety zones."
But the cameras have touched off controversies in some cities. Last year, Baltimore conducted an audit of its speed cameras, run by Xerox, and found they had an error rate of 10 percent.
So far, no one – including Wisniewski — has introduced a bill to renew the red light camera program or expand it.
Mayor Richard Gerbounka of Linden, a retired police officer whose town has five red light cameras, said he not only wants to keep them, but to install speed cameras as well.
"If you don’t violate the law, you won’t get a ticket and you won’t pay a fine," Gerbounka said. "It’s just that simple."
Then there is the question of revenue. The Linden cameras produce about $1.2 million a year for the town and Union County, which split the installation and maintenance costs. Some of that revenue also goes toward maintenance of the cameras, and to state programs.
Gerbounka said the revenue was important, but not as much as "safety and changing driver behavior."
I think that should really say it all.
Again, quote the figure: $1.2 million a year from the red light cameras alone.
Add that figure to the many other municipalities that wat to do the same and you’re left with empty pockets.
Safety? Well let’s see.
If it were all about safety and changing behavior, companies such as Xerox State and Local Solutions, the purveyor of the speeding cameras, along with American Traffic Solutions – the red light camera manufacturers – would all be out of business in record time.
They’re in the game to make money – just like the State.
The display signs welcoming you into the state should all say – “New Jersey – Welcome to the Shakedown State!”
What say you - we'd like to know!