Are Red Light Cameras Improving Safety? [AUDIO]
In its new report on the effect of red light cameras in New Jersey, the state Department of Transportation concluded it is too early to tell if the program is increasing safety on the roads. A strong opponent of the cameras had a different reaction to the report.
The Report on Red-Light Traffic Control Signal Monitoring Systems used data from 24 locations statewide with red light systems in place for at least one full year. Two of those intersections, both in Newark, have been operational for two full years.
At Broad and Market in Newark, according to the report, crashes decreased by 46% in 2011 when compared to the 12 months before a camera was installed in 2009. At Broad and Raymond, total crashes were reduced by 74%. Crash costs (including, but not limited to, vehicle damage and repair, emergency response, medical care) decreased by $97,200 and $171,700 respectively.
"Problem is, data from two intersections is statistically insignificant," said Assemblyman Declan O'Scanlon, who has been attempting to shut down or drastically change the pilot program. He has referred to red light cameras as "automatic taxing machines."
"The larger pool of data for 24 locations statewide shows an increase in crashes - 582, up from 577, to be specific," added O'Scanlon. "Even worse, the severity and costs of those accidents has increased."
Combining data from the 24 locations with one full year of operation, the report calculated a public cost of $1,172,800.
"That number doesn't include the tens of millions of dollars in bogus fines being doled out," O'Scanlon noted. "Safety has decreased, and the cost to the public has increased. Who are these cameras benefiting?"
The state report showed a significant drop in monthly citations, comparing the first and twelfth months with a red light camera in place.
O'Scanlon rejected the idea that a reduction in the number of tickets is an indicator of improved safety.
He added, "Since we see increases in accidents at these intersections at the same time we see decreases in tickets issued, it is painfully obvious that any behavior we might be changing isn't that which was leading to accidents prior to this equipment being installed."
Instead, O'Scanlon said the cameras are making drivers paranoid, forcing them to slam on their brakes or fail to make a right turn on red, in fear of getting a citation in the mail.
"We need to pull the plug on this program right now," O'Scanlon said.
Meeting failure with his effort in the past, the Republican Assemblyman introduced his own measure that would increase the length of a yellow light.