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New Jersey Red Light Cameras – Safety Enhancer Or Money Maker? [POLL]

Do red light cameras really enhance safety – as supporters claim – or is this nothing more than a “money grab” by cash-hungry towns looking for an opportunity to generate revenue any way they can?

NJ red light cameras
Flickr User Takomabibelot

A Townsquare Media New Jersey review of data from 2011 shows 22 towns from all over the Garden state that are participating in a red light camera pilot program issued 290 thousand, 434 tickets last year – generating tens of millions of dollars in fines.

Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon says even though supporters of red light cameras insist the issue is about improving safety, “it’s about money – let’s be honest – and any reasonable examination of the facts will demonstrate that.”

Red Light Totals By Town For 2011
Red Light Totals By Town For 2011 - click image for larger view

He says recent studies confirm that accidents are still taking place at intersections where red light cameras are installed, and “if you’re worried about people clipping the tail end of a yellow light – increase the yellow light time- if you have a lot of people clipping the end of a yellow light, it means your yellow light timing is off, and you should extend it.”

O’Scanlon adds in many cases extending yellow light times – instead of installing a red light camera – would certainly be a way to make an intersection safer -however “the problem is it would reduce your revenue- so it really is a pretty stark way of showing that the focus is really on the revenue and not on safety…and it’s big money – I get it – some municipal officials genuinely believe it’s about safety , but other municipal officials are trying to figure out a way to raise money any way they can- it’s a tough environment out there -I get it – this isn’t the way to do it- this is essentially highway robbery.”

He insists he is open-minded – but when the pilot program ends in a couple of months “we’ll find that it isn’t increasing safety – the cameras ought to come down – because they’re just cash-mills- I call them ATM’s – Automatic Taxing Machines.”

O’Scanlon also points out in some cases the red light cameras actually decrease safety – since “it’s been shown repeatedly that people get paranoid when these cameras are in place, and you have people slamming on brakes…you do increase rear end accidents, there’s no question, and you can increase erratic behavior…it’s really a way for government to tighten the noose and figure out how to get in your pocket from a different angle.”

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