Red Light Cams' Future in Flux

Brick safe from 2014 deadline, however

The past several weeks have been dotted with spurts of attention dedicated to the future of red light violation cameras in New Jersey, with lawmakers including Gov. Chris Christie opining on the devices.

The debate over the usefulness of the cameras was whisked into the spotlight by Assemblyman Declan O'Scanlon (R-Monmouth) who proposed a bill late last month that would lengthen the amber – or yellow – light by a half-second at intersections outfitted with the cameras, and prohibit a ticket from being issued at all if the violation occurred within a half-second after the traffic light turned red.

Last week, the conversation was reignited after O'Scanlon, in an interview with the Newark Star-Ledger, said a study by his office found nearly half of the towns statewide using the cameras have contracts with camera vendors that extend past Dec. 16, 2014 – the date a pilot program allowing red light cameras to operate in New Jersey ends.

Brick Township was one of the first municipalities in the state to use the red light cameras under the pilot program. According to Business Administrator Scott Pezarras, the contracts for the first two intersections outfitted with the cameras – Route 70 and Chambers Bridge Road, and Brick Boulevard and Hooper Avenue – have contracts that expire in 2014. The contract expiration date of the third intersection to get the cameras – Route 70 and Brick Boulevard – was not available.

But regardless, said Pezarras, Brick's contract with American Traffic Solutions states the vendor cannot be paid if no tickets are generated, thus protecting the town from losing money.

"If you can't give out tickets, they can't make out any money at all," he said. "Other towns have negotiated different types of terms."

American Traffic Solutions has also publicly stated municipalities would not owe any money – regardless of their contract type – if the entire program is suspended in New Jersey.

Pezarras said Brick's method of issuing tickets to "rolling" stops before otherwise-legal right turns on red does not require motorists to stop for a minimum amount of time. Police officials have told Patch in the past that simply "inching out" to check for oncoming traffic will not activate the camera sensors.

The Dec. 16, 2014 end of the pilot program is shaping up to produce a major policy debate on the part of legislators who will be tasked with weighing the issues of traffic safety and revenue generation for cash-strapped local governments with a public that could be hesitant to support the devices.

“Believe me, this wasn't my idea, so I've got no stake in this thing," Gov. Chris Christie was reported to have said on his "Ask the Governor" show on NJ 101.5 radio.

Christie said the decision to make the program permanent or end it in New Jersey was the responsibility of the legislature, according to a show transcript posted on theNewspaper.com.

If the program does become a permanent fixture in the state, there will be discussions on how Brick's participation will evolve.

"If they do adopt it as law, I assume we're going to have further discussions with the police chief and administration to see if we're going to keep them in place," said Pezarras.

clamdigger October 11, 2012 at 09:59 AM
@FJLa for Congress; "...when you're trapped in an intersection...then sits through until the light turns red, leaving you IN the intersection" IIRC, this was taught in drivers ed, you don't block an intersection...even though we are probably all guilty of it. Once a driver gets to that white line painted on the road at a traffic signal, they have to decide is it worth the risk of getting stuck in the middle of the intersection. Do't forget,if you are paying attention while driving, you should be a little extra careful around the traffic signals that have the cameras. But again, all video are suppose to be reviewed at the local police dept before any tickets are to be issued.
John Zingis October 11, 2012 at 12:57 PM
Couple of items. First, I would like to see the statistics on these intersections to see if the cameras caused a drop in accidents. Running read lights kill people. Secondly, I've been taught in defensive driving classes that if you enter the intersection (under a yellow light) you must clear the intersection. I would suggest that if a car in front of yu stops, the light turns red, then you have a really good arguement to fight the red light ticket. I could only hope that the municipal prosecutor will review this information and render the correct decission to drop the ticket. Otherwise, I like the cameras. I makes people think twice about running a light.
Brett Middaugh October 11, 2012 at 01:51 PM
As I continue to say, there is a better technology to deal with the dilemma zone issue, (when to stop for the yellow or risk making it through) The cameras are a outdated form of technology, there is a way to dynamically update the yellow clearance time if a car approaching the intersection is moving at a speed that makes it seem as though it will pass during the red light movement. This is called dilemma zone detection. Most red light running is done accidently and can not be avoided and still causes bad accidents. By being able to dynamically increase the yellow timing you solve the problem of running the light and possibly having a serious sideways collision. Statistically, right on red collisions are incredibly rare and not helped at all by this technology.
Brett Middaugh October 11, 2012 at 01:52 PM
Sal Petoia October 11, 2012 at 02:11 PM
I believe most people do not deliberately go through a red light as many infer, but are the victims of circumstance… to go or not to go. Years back, long before cameras, I approached an intersection in Toms River, and as I got close, the light went to amber. I went through, and shortly after I got pulled over. I got off with a verbal warning by the officer. That made me skittish about amber lights ever after. One rainy night, years later, coming down Brick Blvd the same thing happened. This time I hit the brake and stopped just past the crossing line, only to be rear ended a millisecond later. So you're damned if you do and damned if you don't. Cameras may be making money for the town, but they are introducing another level of anxiety when approaching camera monitored intersections. If they are showing a significant reduction in accidents, then keep them, but if not , dump them. We have enough government in our faces as it is! Like Grumpy, I try to avoid those locations.
Not So Dumb October 11, 2012 at 02:51 PM
I think Brick should install cameras on a mobile trailer and place them at STOP Sign locations. We'd make a fortune and bring down our property taxes. When was the sast time any one ever came to acomplete stop at at stop sign. More money means less taxes. They may also want to put a radar gun and issue tickets for anyone going over 25mph on MY STREET
Frederick John LaVergne for Congress October 11, 2012 at 03:10 PM
I am referring to being blocked by those who enter on a red left arrow - then you enter the intersection to make your left turn, and cannot complete it - or, worse, you enter behind the car in front of you, and HE's blocked by someone else's discourtesy. If we all follow the rules of the road, (to which, as noted above, you are correct), this should never come up - but have you NEVER been trapped by someone else's idiocy? Truly, never?
Frederick John LaVergne for Congress October 11, 2012 at 03:11 PM
Thank you, John...that was my point...Hey, never heard from you...you don't remember me? Wanted your input on bay restoration.
A Resident October 11, 2012 at 05:14 PM
So far, the comments in this thread pretty much blame cameras for... rolling through a red light to make a right turn. getting rear ended for stopping at a light. and getting stuck in an intersection due to previous traffic. Sounds like a lot of people need to go back to driver's ed and learn the rules of the road...
Brett Middaugh October 11, 2012 at 05:21 PM
Brett Middaugh October 11, 2012 at 05:21 PM
Brett Middaugh October 11, 2012 at 05:21 PM
Brett Middaugh October 11, 2012 at 05:25 PM
The purpose of any piece of accident avoidance system is to prevent accidents. Hence the word accident. Anyone purposefully running a red light will do so no matter what. What is needed is to prevent the accidental running of lights so as to prevent accidents. There are solutions for this that do not require cameras. Camera = reactive solution. After the problem occurs. Radar dilemma zone detection = proactive solution. Before the problem occurs. But hey in this day and age who doesn't like a little more government surveillance right? LOL
Sal Petoia October 11, 2012 at 05:58 PM
Resident: Are you telling us that going back to driver's ed will allow us to predict the exact second that a light will change to yellow and then red? And that will reduce rear end collisions? Get real! Read the articles posted by Bret Middaugh which give actual data. There is a period during which a driver has only moments to decide to proceed or stop that no amount of additional driver training will account for. It is only natural that some people panic as they get close to an intersection and the light changes, so they slam on the brakes. That increases the risk of a rear end collision. Of course, if people didn't tailgate, that problem would be minimized. Until I see some realistic data, I am hard pressed to be convinced that the cameras make an intersection safer. So until then, I am forced to conclude it's all about the money.
Hollowman October 11, 2012 at 07:17 PM
And that makes it ok to do?
Hollowman October 11, 2012 at 07:19 PM
I highly doubt you were hit from behind because of the camera. More than likely you were hit from behind because the person behind you was driving like an a$$ hat. I was hit from behind once at a light that had no camera, who's to blame there?
Hollowman October 11, 2012 at 07:27 PM
I read that list, and honestly a good majority of those are bogus claims. Slows down emergency personnel response time? I think speed monitoring GPS would have the same effect, which is already in all cars. Double Jeopardy? If you speed through one stretch of highway and are pulled over by a police officer and are ticketed, then speed away down the road 15 minutes later being stopped and ticketed again for speeding thats not double jeopardy thats you continuing to drive like an idiot... (double jeopardy would be, lets say you run the red light camera which issues you a summons, AND a police officer issues you a summons for the exact same infraction.. THAT you can not do) And no motor vehicle infractions in NJ have ever been considered a CRIME (with the exception of DUI.. in NJ it is a quasi-criminal offense).... I can go on but you get the drift.
Hollowman October 11, 2012 at 07:31 PM
I dont really think making longer yellows will change much, However the time both lights are red (after one light turn reds and before next direction turns green) could be increased. This would decrease the likely hood of someone who DID run the red light would still be in the intersection when cars begin to enter it.
Hollowman October 11, 2012 at 07:32 PM
Also, if you are already in the intersection when the light turns red, you will not be issued a ticket. Clamdigger is right
Hollowman October 11, 2012 at 07:34 PM
Again, you will not be issued a summons for running the red light if you are already in the intersection when it begins to cycle.
Hollowman October 11, 2012 at 07:37 PM
Sal, all of these types of accidents occur regularly at intersections regardless of the camera's. Being rear ended because you stopped is the fault of the other driver. Even if you are driving down the road and SLAM on your brakes because of a child entering the roadway or an animal, if someone rear ends you it is THEIR fault. You are taught to leave enough room to stop safely (a car length every 10mph) That number isnt just arbitrary it takes into account average car weight plus reaction time to stop. It has nothing to do with the cameras and everything to do with the speed and driving behaviors of people on the road.
Brett Middaugh October 11, 2012 at 07:43 PM
Just for everyone's clarification, I do work in the traffic control industry and am very familiar with traffic signal phase timing, detection, dilemma zone detection, etc. The cameras are designed to be money generators, not prevent accidents, because of course, they can only show what happens after someone runs a light. The purpose of traffic control is to ensure motorist safety. Which the cameras do not help ensure. I have given you facts and statistics, if you like cameras and surveillance, well that's up to you.I hope your children enjoy the state you give them.
Hollowman October 11, 2012 at 08:17 PM
Brett, I believe the concept of the camera's preventing accidents is based upon the idea of presence as a deterrence, which is an arguable fact. They do generate money that much is obvious but I don't think you can simply say definitively that the camera's in no way at all reduce aggressive driving behavior. Like you stated before some people are just going to speed/run lights no matter what and getting a ticket sometimes is not a deterrence at all but I believe for a lot of people it is. NHTSA is researching the Intersection Crash Avoidance-Violation warning system or ICAV which gives in vehicle cues to drivers warning them of potential on coming violations. Its promising. For anyone interested in a study of red light violations performed by NHTSA (a non-biased agency as opposed to a study done by someone strongly against the cameras) here is a link http://www.nhtsa.gov/DOT/NHTSA/NRD/Multimedia/PDFs/Crash%20Avoidance/2006/810580.pdf
Sal Petoia October 11, 2012 at 08:44 PM
Hollowman: I agree with you that the car following must keep a distance sufficient to stop if the preceding car has to make a panic stop. But tailgating seems to be a way of life everywhere. The point I was trying to make is there is a zone in which a "go, no go" decision has to be made. It's like playing musical chairs and waiting for the music to stop. If I had gone through the changing light, I probably wouldn’t have gotten a ticket (no camera, nor police), nor would I have been hit and suffered the damage to my car. But by trying to comply with the law, the accident occurred. As I recall, you're in law enforcement. Why isn't there a greater emphasis on going after the tailgating drivers. I know it's more time consuming for law enforcement people to do, but aren't most accidents rear enders?
clamdigger October 11, 2012 at 09:47 PM
last week (wed or thurs) about 5pm i was heading to pkwy N. while i was on Van Zile i had a little red car in front of me the whole way. the little red car was erratic w/ it's speed, first it was at the speed limit (35) then 10 below then 10 above. when we get to the traffic signal at Burnt Tavern the car skids to a stop for the red signal then on the green light putt putt putts along until the traffic signal at Burnt Tavern and Lanes Mill rd where the light turns Red. I'm in the right lane headed toward the pkwy,the litle red car is next to me in the left. the far traffic signal at the pkwy entrance turns green and the little red car floors it,tires are spinning (from light rain) and the driver just blows through the still red traffic signal we are stopped at,cars are still going through the intersection traveling on Lanes Mill and this car just zooms through like something you'd see in a movie. I was amazed the litle red car didn't get creamed from either direction. part of me was hoping there was going to be an accident just so i could tell the responding officers how this all happened. it was probably close to 10 seconds before my light turned green from the time the car ran the red. these are the kind of people that are out there driving...clueless.
Hollowman October 12, 2012 at 03:18 AM
it isnt anymore time consuming than writing any other ticket and it is in fact, as you stated, so common it would be very easy to write all day. Personally, and I only speak for myself but I'm sure my feelings are shared by others in law enforcement, the problem is this: Tailgating is a 5 point ticket. Thats HUGE. RECKLESS is only a 4 point ticket, Passing a school bus is the only other 5 pointer I can think of off the top of my head. Passing a school bus is nearly 99.9% always intentional, where as, IMHO tailgating can simply be negligent (not paying attention). I personally dont like writing someone a 5 point ticket unless they TRULY deserve it. Tailgating as they weave thru traffic, race other cars, speed, etc etc. Someone who tailgates through an intersection in order to make the light... while perhaps careless driving... I dont think warrants a 5 point tailgating ticket. Again thats just my opinion and I am allowed a certain level of discretion here. What people need to realize, and I dont think they do, is that yes most accidents are rear end "fender benders." On the standard accident report, NJ-TR1, there are boxes that ask for each driver's actions prior to the collision. If you were following to close, that box will be checked, usually with driver inattention or one other infraction. This being checked will almost certainly place you at fault with your insurance REGARDLESS if a ticket was issued. The fact of the matter is, most people just dont care.
Frederick John LaVergne for Congress October 12, 2012 at 03:43 AM
"The cameras are designed to be money generators, not prevent accidents, because of course, they can only show what happens after someone runs a light. The purpose of traffic control is to ensure motorist safety. Which the cameras do not help ensure." Best response....well done.
John Q October 12, 2012 at 05:36 AM
The company that installs and maintains these cameras (American Traffic Solutions) actually has a dummy organization called the National Coalition for Safer Roads in an attempt to insult your intelligence. Here's the link for the dopes that believe this all about safety for the public. http://thenewspaper.com/news/35/3585.asp Don,t worry, it is only a one page article unlike the 72 page adobe file Hollowman linked.
Tom Cular October 12, 2012 at 09:46 AM
John, thanks for the link. It certainly sheds some light on the issue and tends to show that it's about the money, not safety.
Debra December 24, 2012 at 06:21 AM
My son hesitated because he heard a siren,[in front of Ocean First Bank. ] There was a school bus along side him on the left. And an ambulance on the left of the bus. So as the light was changing,that slight pause to give right of way to a possible emergency vehicle,my son was already in the intersection,and he received a ticket. The yellow needs more time and a timer should be installed!!! These cameras only add confusion ,and stress,to our already over stressed lives..


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