PJ BLOGGER

N.J. gives traffic camera program a test drive

In Uncategorized on September 8, 2008 at 11:00 am

Monday, September 08, 2008

BY SAMANTHA HENRY

Associated Press

A controversial pilot program that uses red light cameras to catch traffic violators is about to get under way in New Jersey.

Twenty-one municipalities from around the state have applied to the five-year program so far, but only 12 will be accepted for the first year, according to NJDOT spokesman Timothy Greeley. Towns will be notified if they are accepted into the program beginning this month.

Lawrence is one of the towns that have applied to join the pilot program, and officials there hope cameras can be installed at the intersection of Route 1 and Franklin Corner Road, which they consider one of the most dangerous crossroads in the township.

The devices take digital photographs of vehicles that run red lights or otherwise disregard traffic signals. A color copy of the photo, along with a ticket, is mailed to the vehicle’s registered owner.

Towns must first pass local ordinances approving the use of the cameras before applying to the state program. State officials review each application to see that it meets criteria, including whether other accident-reducing methods have been explored and whether a town has accurately timed street lights.

Municipalities selected for the program will be allowed to install traffic cameras at high-volume intersections.

The Route 1/Franklin Corner Road intersection in Lawrence sees more than 6,000 cars during evening rush hour. More than 5 percent of all traffic accidents in Lawrence occurred at that intersection last year according to police information. Most of the 88 accidents were rear-end crashes that Daniel Posluszny, chief of police, said were caused by driver inattention.

The New Jersey towns will join more than 300 U.S. communities in 25 states that use the cameras, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. They are used in major cities such as New York, Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington.

Opponents of the cameras criticize the practice as a clandestine surveillance method that infringes on civil liberties and denies drivers the right to contest a traffic ticket issued by an unseen accuser.

“Our point of view is that red light cameras are a scam, not just a money making venture,” said Steve Carrellas, coordinator of the New Jersey chapter of the National Motorists Association. “If there’s a real red light running problem at an intersection, putting a red light camera there doesn’t fix the underlying problems of an intersection.”

Supporters of the idea, such as Assemblyman John Wisniewski, D-Middlesex, who sponsored New Jersey’s legislation approved in January, says such initiatives cut down on speeding and dramatically reduce the number of accidents.

“It makes intersections safer, people safer and cuts down on injuries,” Wisniewski said. “I’ve heard all types of opposition to it, about ‘big brother’ getting involved, but there’s no difference if a police officer is preventing them for running a red light.”

Critics also say that red light camera programs can be abused by cash-strapped municipalities trying to generate revenues.

“These days, with towns hurting, they can claim it’s for safety but they certainly love the revenues,” Carrellas said. “If they claim safety, then use the money to fix the intersection, not to reap money from it.”

Wisniewski acknowledges the program is cost-effective way to help police departments augment their manpower, but dismisses critics who say it’s strictly a revenue generator.

“It’s not a line to money-grab,” Wisniewski said. “The way to enforce motor vehicle regulations is through fines. We have fines for reckless driving — not because we’re going to fine people and make money — but because it’s a deterrent.”

Motorists who fail to obey traffic signals in New Jersey get two points on their license and face fines ranging from $85 to $140. Those caught by a camera would get similar fines but no license points.

A survey earlier this year by the AAA Clubs of New Jersey found that about 3 of every 4 Garden State drivers supported the use of cameras to catch drivers who run red lights. AAA polled 1,000 drivers.

David Weinstein, a spokesman for AAA, said red light camera programs have had mixed success around the country.

“It’s something that needs to be talked about publicly, because red light cameras, there’s two sides of it,” Weinstein said. “The opportunity is there to increase safety at intersections, but the opportunity is also there to increase revenues without any safety side effects.”

The National Campaign to Stop Red Light Running, a group supported by the red light camera industry, says an analysis of 150 traffic studies shows by an 11-to-1 margin that cameras reduce fatalities, crashes and traffic violations.

The campaign’s executive director, Leslie Blakey, says the cameras are meant as a deterrent, not as punishment.

“Driving goes up in the U.S. about 40 percent every 10 years,” Blakey said. “Law enforcement personnel, the number of cops available to issue tickets has remained static, and in some cases has decreased, and in the same time frame we keep adding more responsibilities to law enforcement and do not give those departments anywhere near enough modern tools.”

Blakey said the cameras average about $50,000 to $75,000 each, and more complicated intersections can require up to $150,000 in equipment. She said it’s still a cost effective solution for many towns.

Critics and proponents alike say they’ll be watching New Jersey’s pilot program closely to see how effective it is.

“They’ve worked in some places, and in some places they’ve been abused,” Weinstein said. “So it remains to be seen how it’ll work out for New Jersey. Traffic safety should be the only goal, and if that’s the only goal, it should work out well.”

http://www.nj.com/news/times/regional/index.ssf?/base/news-14/122084671177330.xml&coll=5

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  1. Sounds good to me. SAFETY AND CRASHES DOWN.

    We need cameras in our town too.
    To catch J walkers that almost get run down by out of towners that don’t regard the fact that people have the right of way.

    How many times have you tried to cross the street by the Bank of America and IT’S GREEK TO ME, only to almost get hit by people turning off Walnut or speeding down from Broad Street?

    Cameras would sure help, if drivers knew that videos of the intersection were being taken.

  2. Yeah…
    Maybe we can implant GPS devices into the heads of all Ridgewood Residents and have the traffic lights automatically controlled by the movements of the residents.

    Excuse me while I run out and buy another wall sized telescreen.

  3. So who’s to Blame then..the J walkers or the out of towners?? Your first statement makes no sense.

  4. & the luddite fear of technology continues…

  5. its a cash cow for the state.

  6. 1:22
    Both you silly, the J-walkers can wave at the cameras and the out of towners get a photo of their plate numbers.

    Looks like 8:15 forgot a comma after safety. You think?

    I forgive him because this is not a term paper, AND I could figure what he ment, or is it meant.

  7. I am far from a liberal, however, a fully aggree with the statement:
    “Opponents of the cameras criticize the practice as a clandestine surveillance method that infringes on civil liberties and denies drivers the right to contest a traffic ticket issued by an unseen accuser.”

  8. & the desire to give up all rights to privacy and personal freedom and to live in a fascist state continues…

  9. The only people who would oppose cameras are people who are breaking the law. They will alway hide behind civil liberties crap but the reality is safety of the greater good is the most important.

  10. The state should start taking away more drivers license’s – maybe a three strikes your out type of thing -there are a lot of people on the road who should not be driving , they have a total disregard for other peoples safety and cannot seem to obey the laws. Our population is aging and the safety issues will only get worse. It would sure help with traffic congestion problems.

  11. Liberalism always leads to fascism ie…the national socialist party or the Bolsheviks

  12. & the desire to give up all rights to privacy and personal freedom and to live in a fascist state continues

    You’re opposed to the Patriot Act — Yes or No

  13. 942 i’ll tell you what Bud ,the first time the cameras catch illegals jumping into the back of a landscaping truck or a terroist ,I buy your lib facist BS ,but I dont think you pussy’s have the balls to clamp down on the real threats …

  14. yes i agree with 625 these (NJ LIB COWARDS)cowards are not interested in national security ,just harasing citizens for ticket money

  15. & the Rush-Hannity-Levin sound-byte-athon continues…

  16. Liberalism always leads to fascism

    Really?

    Madison, Jay & Hamilton represent the pinnacle of liberal thinking.

    They were fascists too?

  17. sorry 942 modern liberals get there roots from communism not classical liberals good try ,the founding fathers would declare war on Trenton for its despotic ways

  18. i agree with 951 today Karl Marx is the pinnacle of liberal thinking.

  19. Madison, Jay & Hamilton would never tolerate spy cameras so whats your point?

  20. Way to go Jersey. Right down the tubes.

  21. & the hatred of American liberal democracy ("liberalism always leads to fascism") continues…

  22. American (Socialist) Liberalism today has as much in common with Classical Liberalism as Professional Wrestling has to Greco/Roman Wrestling.

    Why don’t liberals just go by their true name – “Socialists” and let the real liberals take their good name back?

    Those in power of the Liberal Party (now the Democratic Party after the hositle takeover) know that they are Socialists (or worse) at their core – this is undisputable. I do wonder however, if the rank and file Democrat consciously knows that they are voting to implement policies that will transform America into a Socialist country.

  23. 10:53

    & your hatred of Freedom in America continues

  24. 9:42 PM

    Re:
    & the desire to give up all rights to privacy and personal freedom and to live in a fascist state continues

    You’re opposed to the Patriot Act — Yes or No”

    I am wholeheartedly FOR the Patriot Act and more. There is a difference between monitoring potential terrorists and monitoring potential jaywalkers.

    There is a real need for the Patriot Act as part of the effective protection and safety of all Americans. It is a limited and focused intrusion and potential reduction of individual rights, but it is a necessary one. The danger is great. The potential loss of life is great. It is a good and rational solution for a free society to implement. It is a good balance between the desires of an individual to have absolute individual freedom with no restrictions or intrusions and the responsibilities of a government to effectively protect its citizens. This is a good compromise with minimal intrusion yielding maximum protection.

    The same cannot be said of the RW Business District cameras. The trade-off is not the same. The risks are not high enough to warrant the intrusion and reduction of personal rights.

    Note: I am not against CCTV being used in public areas. In other cities with higher crime rates or more violent crimes or other circumstances, I would be for it.

    In fact I would support the use of CCTV in the schools (even in Ridgewood). See the difference here is – same town, same people, but the trade-off is different. CHILDREN are much more valuable than any physical property. Also children have no choice but to attend the school (residents can choose to shop elsewhere if they do not feel safe in a business district without CCTV). Also we are charged with protecting our children and they have less ability and options to defend themselves. So in this case a CCTV proposal might make sense. (Note: I am not calling for CCTV use in the schools, but if it was proposed or was already in use, I would not oppose it.)

    So that is why I am opposed to cameras being used in the RWBD. It is an unnecessary surrender of personal rights to the government with little to no real value returned and the risk of detrimental effects via misuse/abuse of the system. Too easy to slip-slide into unnecessarily surrendering more and more rights to a more and more controlling government (i.e. move towards fascism)

  25. "Madison, Jay & Hamilton represent the pinnacle of liberal thinking.

    They were fascists too?"

    Like the word gay, liberal has been hi-jacked by the left for political purposes.

    Nice try 9:42am but your sophistry is part and parcel of the Orwellian double speak employed by the modern Democrat Party.

    Face facts, modern Democrats are Socialists at best, Communists in their most extreme and Fascists at the worst.

  26. 1:33 PM –

    Re: “Face facts, modern Democrats are Socialists at best, Communists in their most extreme and Fascists at the worst.”

    You are spot on.

    Now can you just tell me why they won’t change the party name to reflect their ideology?

    After 30 years of progressively more aggressive school indoctrination, they have a near majority of Americans believing that socialism is the American way. So I say – go for it. It is time for the Democratic Party to officially change its name to the Socialist Party.

  27. hahaha…mention the Patriot Act, then sit back and listen to the wailing & gnashing of teeth…works every time!

  28. These are like the drones that the Army uses in battle. There, they’re useful. Here, they’re a policeman’s dream-no dirty hands and a body shop’s delight-rear enders.

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