As many drivers know, New Jersey’s red light traffic camera program proved to be a controversial topic of conversation. Some people felt that the cameras saved lives by reducing the number of car accidents. Others believed the cameras amounted to too much of a governmental intrusion into people’s private lives, almost like Big Brother watching over you. Still others shared the view that the cameras did not enhance safety but instead made intersections more dangerous. Well, as we sometimes say, “the jury is still out” on whether or not the cameras were effective at making the intersections safer. A 2013 study by the state Department of Transportation (DOT) found that while the number of right-angle crashes (commonly known as “broadside” or “T-bone” collisions) went down at some intersections, rear-end crashes increased. The report concluded that “it appears reasonable to concluded that RLR is a viable safety tool” at certain locations but that it was too early to draw conclusions on the program as a whole without more data.
There are 76 camera-equipped intersections in 25 New Jersey towns, including in the South Jersey communities of Cherry Hill, Gloucester Township, Stratford, Glassboro, Deptford, and Monroe Township. The cameras were installed in various municipalities across the state under the Red Light Running (RLR) Automated Enforcement Program, beginning with Newark in 2009. Although one study showed a reduced number of crashes at intersections where the cameras had been in place at least two weeks, the traffic-camera program itself faced technical problems and lawsuits from the outset. The DOT temporarily suspended dozens of cameras in 2012 over concerns that yellow light were not timed so that drivers had sufficient time to brake safely. Since that time, a federal lawsuit settlement awarded partial refunds to nearly 500,000 violators, and this year a computer glitch voided more than 10,000 violations.
The five-year program ended on December 16th, meaning that 73 intersections in 24 towns have now become camera-free. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, of the 540 cities and towns across the US that were using red light cameras in 2012, more than 40 had dropped them as of this past November. This does not mean the cameras are necessarily gone for good. The cameras are still recording violations so the state can collect data. No tickets will be issued, but the cameras will remain in place. The DOT is expected to issue a recommendation in 2015 about bringing back the cameras.
What are your thoughts on red light traffic cameras? Do you feel they made the roadways safer or more dangerous? Have you or someone you know been injured in a car accident at an intersection because the other driver was not paying attention or was driving too fast for the traffic conditions? If so, call me right away. We can discuss your situation and determine what your options are. At Stark & Stark we represent people every day who have been hurt in car accidents caused by someone else’s negligence. We only represent plaintiffs in personal injury cases, so we know what it takes to make sure your rights are protected.