Though Brick Township’s pilot program of featuring red light cameras at three roadway intersections was among 21 such , a forthcoming traffic engineering study will determine if the program gets the red light for good.
Brick officials are confident, however, that the township's three red light cameras will meet the state's requirements.
Capt. John Rein of the Brick Township Police Department said that a recent in-house study of all town intersections, which is conducted every six months, showed that the township was complying with state guidelines, including on the red light camera intersections.
“We have always been in compliance — the suspension is due to the timing and language of the amber light requirements. The NJDOT and the Governor’s Office just want to make sure that everyone is following the same guidelines,” said Rein.
Rein said that he anticipated that once the state received the necessary certifications, the red light camera program would be permitted to continue in Brick Township.
“The purpose of the cameras is to change the behavior of drivers, and have them heed the time provided by the amber warning light to stop at the intersection or slow down,” Rein explained.
Yellow signal speeds
Brick currently has three intersections where red light cameras are present: Brick Boulevard and Hooper Avenue; Route 70 and Chambers Bridge Road; and Route 70 and Brick Boulevard. The Route 70-Brick Boulevard camera just began issuing tickets to motorists on June 6.
The NJDOT made the decision to suspend the program due to videotaped evidence and because the legislation providing for the red light cameras requires a formula used to calculate the length of the yellow light at these intersections — a different one than that already is used on many state roadways.
As it stands, two of the intersections in Brick Township which are equipped with red light cameras are on state roadways.
State officials have said previously that most yellow lights follow the prescribed engineering and safety standards in the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices, which require a minimum duration of the yellow light to equal one-tenth of the posted speed limit on the approaching road.
For example, where the approaching road has a posted speed of 40 miles per hour, the traffic signal must display yellow for a minimum of four seconds. The NJDOT rounds up to the nearest whole second in this formula, so in instances where the approaching speed limit is 45 miles per hour, the signal displays a yellow light for five seconds.
However, the legislation providing for the red light cameras also requires an analysis of vehicle speeds, as they approach the intersection where a red light camera installation is proposed. The formula requires a yellow signal of at least three seconds, if at least 85 percent of the approaching traffic travels at speeds of 25 mph
For each increase of 5 miles per hour in vehicle speed above 30 mph, the minimum duration of the yellow light must be increased by 0.5 seconds, according to the legislation.
Officials previously commented that this requirement is in place to make sure that the traffic signal is properly timed to allow drivers to avoid a violation and fine by entering an intersection when the light is red.
Under state guidelines, Brick and the other 20 municipalities whose programs were suspended must conduct traffic engineering studies on their red light camera intersections to this effect, and submit the necessary certifications to the NJDOT by Aug. 1.
If studies show that the yellow light at the intersection is meeting the legislation’s guidelines, then the municipality will continue to be authorized to issue violations and fines to motorists. If those studies reveal the length of the yellow light is not up to the standards set in the legislation’s formula, that intersection will be removed from the red light camera pilot program.
$570K in violations
Mayor Stephen Acropolis said specifically that the timing of the yellow light at the Route 70 and Brick Boulevard intersection would be the subject of the aforementioned traffic engineering study.
“The study will be conducted by Frank Miskovich, from our engineering firm, Birdsall Services Group,” said Acropolis. “Anytime you can review a pilot program, it’s a good thing.”
Acropolis said Brick Township has received roughly $570,000 since the installation of the red light cameras (minus fees paid to the state and camera vendor, Arizona-based American Traffic Solutions), and explained some of the result data garnered by the presence of the red light cameras.
“Accidents at these intersections are down 50 percent, 95 percent of the people who have been issued a red light violation have not received another one, and 70 percent of the people who have been issued violations are not from Brick Township,” said the mayor.
Acropolis said the presence of the cameras is meant to positively affect motorist behavior and to ensure that people are not being injured or killed in crashes at the intersections where cameras are installed.
Capt. Rein said that the cameras being in place have led to a drop in the number of right-angle crashes, and the serious injuries associated with them, in addition to a reduction in the amount of violations from the first year of the program to the second.
Communications officials from the NJDOT did not return several calls for comment.