CONVERSATION TOPIC: Money Grab or Safety Measure? Tell Us What You Think

Brick Township is another one of Jersey's towns to install red light cameras at several intersections as part of a pilot project, but there remains a concern that the cameras do more to bring money into towns than keep people safe.

The first cameras in township were installed on Brick Boulevard and Chambers Bridge Road February 2010 and the second intersection was route 70 and Chambers Bridge Road September 2010. And another set of cameras were just approved and according to Brick Police Department Captain John Rein will be installed within two or three months and will be located on route 70 and Brick Boulevard. Rein says the numbers speak for themselves, noting that in 2011 the more serious right angle or "T-Bone" crashes fell by fifty percent at the intersections with the cameras.

"It's encouraging to see that the cameras are doing what they reported to do. To reduce the number of serious accidents and change people's behaviors."

Rein says that there has been a reduction in the number of summonses issued within the first year.

One of the concerns that traffic camera detectors bring up is the cameras will discourage drivers from going through traffic advances or yellow lights for fear of getting caught on the cameras, causing them to stop short and get rear ended. Rein notes they haven't seen any statistics to show that as of yet.

"For last year there was just one more than the previous year of year end accidents, so there was not a spike."

Opponents of the cameras also see the cameras as a more a money generating tool rather than a true boon to driver safety. Rein says that "when a township begins an action or function that creates a fee it's will come into the town as revenue, and all summonses, whether they're the red light violations or any other motor vehicle violation when people pay their fine it creates revenue just as is someone is going to come in to get their dog or cat license."

He does admit the cameras have been profitable.

"There is a revenue side to this and it has made enough money to cover all of the expenses plus there's some left over for the township."

Fines are set as 85 dollars. With the state keeping approximately eleven dollars and fifty cents for programs and the remaining 73.50 going back to the township. There are no Motor Vehicle or Insurance points and it does not appear onto your driver record.

For 2010, Rein says the gross amount of revenue brought in by the red light cameras was $ 883,830, and the net revenue for the town was $515,053. For 2011 the red light camera program $1,740,655, the net revenue being $502,060.

Rein explains that the reason for the net amount shrinking is because in 2010 only one intersection with four approaches was operational. The township pays per approach, so when another intersection was added the amount of approaches increased.

Additionally the amount of profit Brick Township receives from a red light camera is significantly larger than from a regular traffic citation. Rein explains that since Ocean County did not opt into the Red Light program they aren't entitled to a portion of the balance of the remaining $73.50. On all other summonses done on a county road, the township receives 46.50 dollars and the County receives 27.50.

Rein says that though the cameras take the pictures, each offense is scrutinized by the police department.

"The camera and the camera company do not issue the summonses in New Jersey the way the law is written, the police officer no matter what jurisdiction you're in has to view every violation."

American Traffic Solutions, the company that maintains the cameras, did an analysis of the summonses issues and found that over seventy percent of violators were from outside of the township.

Rein says that anyone who receives a summons can go online to see the camera images or go to the Brick Police department where they will be shown images and videos of the offense. Anyone wishing to contest the ticket would go to traffic court like a regular summons, however Rein notes so far the red light camera's have had a good record with accuracy.

"To date we have not had anyone in Brick Township's court have been found not guilty of the violation."

Rein believes that the statistic can be attributed not only to the accuracy of the cameras but also to people's willingness to simply pay the fine if they know there are no points on insurance or their license.

"Most people when there's less of a penalty or less adverse effects to them they're willing to just pay it and be done with it."

He adds that though recipients are able to contest the tickets, he says often people who come to look at the video are shocked by what they see.

"Once we turn the video on we get the almost 'A Ha' moment and people are like 'I can't believe I did that' and then they're just walking next door to the court violations window."

One of the advantages of the cameras that Rein notes is they also have the ability to help the township fight crimes other than traffic summonses. The Police Department has already used the cameras In several cases.

"If we believe that a vehicle or somebody who just committed a crime was operating a vehicle who just passed through that intersection if we have a time frame we have requested video [from American Traffic Solution]to confirm if they have went through that intersection and to see if there was anyone else in the car or just to know which direction the care went."

Additionally he notes that in auto crashes it helps officers confirm what happened.

Rein reminds drivers that violations does not occur until the light changes red before you get to that white intersection line and you continue beyond the line and into the intersection.