Jersey’s red light camera pilot program was halted 12 months ago, but some fear the cameras could make a comeback in 2016.

Red Light Camera
(Dan Alexander, Townsquare Media NJ)

In the coming months the NJ Department of Transportation will complete a detailed analysis of red light camera intersection data, and then issue a report to the Legislature that might possibly include a recommendation to allow the cameras back in some municipalities.

Assemblyman Declan O'Scanlon (R-Red Bank) doesn’t believe that will happen, but he says “we can always count on some folks to be more concerned with revenue than justice and fairness to people.”

“Anybody with any integrity and any open mindedness who looks at the data objectively will have to conclude red light cameras are an awful, awful deal for New Jersey motorists,” he said.

O’Scanlon said the most recent data he’s reviewed shows there is absolutely no way to legitimately suggest that red light cameras provide any measure of safety.

“So right there that destroys the credibility of anybody trying to argue otherwise. We’ve seen data from around the world where these things have been tried, and over and over every single objective study has concluded there is no safety benefit to red light cameras,” O'Scanlon said.

He suggested the bottom line here is simple.

“We’re talking about hundreds of millions of dollars in fines and we’re not really improving safety one bit,” he said. “This is nothing but a money grab.”

O’Scanlon added this is not a Democrat or Republican issue.

“We have a bipartisan group of lawmakers opposed to red light cameras, the tide has really turned against automated enforcement,” he said. “Wherever it is tried it is shown that automated enforcement cannot survive without fining and ticketing reasonably behaving people just based on technical violations.”

He also said “a lot of people can’t afford to pay red light camera fines, it’s the difference between paying their rent and keeping their drivers licenses, which is an awful choice especially when 90 percent of them have done nothing to put anyone in harm’s way.”

Even if the DOT report recommends allowing red light cameras back in the Garden State, O’Scanlon doesn’t believe Gov. Chris Christie will allow such a thing to happen.

“He’ll see through it. He’s a smart enough guy to see through it and I think he’ll stand up for New Jersey motorists. I have real confidence that that’s the case,” he said. “But it is something we have to be vigilant on because there is so much money in this system it almost cannot help but be corrupting for a few people, and that is troubling. We’re going to have to continue to fight against it every step of the way, we have to stay on this, these companies are relentless.”

In 2008, red light cameras were allowed at 73 intersections in 25 different New Jersey towns as part of a pilot program to see if they helped to prevent accidents.

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