Bill would shield NJ drivers from red light cameras elsewhere
One of New Jersey's most vocal opponents of the red light camera program plans to introduce legislation that would protect Garden State drivers from companies who operate red light or speed enforcement cameras in other states.
Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon said he is modeling his measure after a bill signed into law this year by South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard.
“Our current proven failure of a red light camera program will end mercifully December 16 - Merry Christmas,” said O’Scanlon (R-Red Bank). “My bill would prohibit the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission from sharing drivers’ data with other states that continue with what we now know are these scam red light camera and speed camera programs.”
Under O’Scanlon’s bill, law enforcement in all 50 states would still be able to use the state's MVC database for traffic violations with the obvious exception being speed and red light automated enforcement violations.
According to the assemblyman, the enforcement cameras penalize the owner of the vehicle, who is not always the driver. He said that makes it harder for the accused to defend themselves in court.
“If these things are a scam and they are, we know that, then New Jersey shouldn’t be complicit in that scam by providing the data that these companies use to steal money from our motorists when they’re outside of our state,” O’Scanlon said.
Recent media reports indicate that the red light and speed camera programs in some states have an error rate as high as 60 percent. In June, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to ban federal funding for automated enforcement cameras.
According to statistics on American Traffic Solutions' website, the company that runs New Jersey's red light cameras, the running of red lights has declined 55 percent nationwide since the program’s inception and the unlawful practice has dropped by 95 percent in Gloucester County, New Jersey.
“Red light safety cameras in New Jersey and throughout the country have proven to be effective at changing driver behavior and reducing the number of collisions, injuries and fatalities that occur as a result of red light running,” said Charles Territo, senior vice president of communications, marketing and public affairs of ATS, in an emailed statement Tuesday. "Notwithstanding the fact that the assemblyman’s proposition is terrible public policy, suggesting that New Jersey drivers aren’t required to stop on red or obey the traffic laws of other states is both reckless and irresponsible.”
Territo said in 2013, nearly 700 people were killed and more than 100,000 people were injured in red light running related collisions.
In response to Territo, O’Scanlon said the contention that he in any way suggested that people should be allowed to run red lights is patently ridiculous. He explained that if sound engineering was used to set up traffic lights properly the running of red lights would be dramatically and accurately reduced.
“Regardless of the rantings of a paid, biased, camera company hack every single objective study done by competent people throughout the past 20 years of this equipment has concluded there is no safety benefit,” O’Scanlon said.
In a March 28 report, the New Jersey Department of Transportation recommended that the state’s red light camera pilot program should continue to the formal end date of December 16. The report concluded that total crashes at the 22 intersections with red light safety cameras in place for two years decreased 27 percent. New Jersey currently has 76 red light cameras.