Despite support from the public and Democratic legislators, the use of red-light safety cameras, also known as Red Light Running systems, could be in jeopardy. The Department of Transportation’s annual report on New Jersey’s pilot program showed rear-end crashes were up 20 percent in the second year of the program, as compared to the first year. It also cited an increase in severity cost of about $1.1 million and a total increase in crashes of 0.1 percent. Right angle crashes did decrease by 15 percent.
The report also pointed out that at the two locations with a full two years of data (both in Newark), total crashes were down 57 percent and severity costs were reduced by $267,000. However, there are 83 intersections in 25 municipalities participating in the program and the vast majority of them have been in operation only one full year.
Last summer, following a public poll that put support for the RLR systems at 77 percent, Democratic Chairman and Assembly Transportation Chairman John Wisniewski (D-Middlesex) called for expanding the pilot beyond its previous 17 municipalities.
With the recent statistics, State Sen. Mike Doherty (R-Somerset) has called for the immediate removal of the systems. He said the experience of other states show that the systems do not make dangerous intersections safer for drivers, although they are “great at generating revenue for the government.” He has set up an online petition for their removal.
The pilot program is expected to run for five years. The state DOT’s report was the second annual study of the program.