On New Jersey 101.5, Gov. Chris Christie announced that all of New Jersey’s red-light cameras have been certified.
The go-ahead to fire up those red light cameras once again means that towns will likely resume ticketing red-light violations recorded by the devices which are found throughout the state. Managing Editor Mike Schneider caught up with Cathleen Lewis, Director of Public Affairs and Government Relations for AAA New Jersey to find out happens now with the controversial program.
The re-certification process was sparked by public complaints and court action alleging that the cameras were being used for profit and that some communities had shortened the duration of yellow lights to try and catch some motorists unaware. Lewis says she and AAA were heartened to see the state make the effort to undergo a re-certification process to ensure that cameras were being used properly.
“We’re encouraged by that and we’re going to continue to make sure that all of these cameras are used for safety purposes and not to line pockets of government.”
Lewis hopes the state continues to review the red-light program periodically as it is required to do under the law.
“The law when it was passed required that certification every six months, so we hope that’s what’s going to occur.”
According to Lewis, when the red-light program was being created, AAA jumped on board only as a last resort.
“AAA continued to advocate that this be done only after every other possible safety measure was exhausted to make these intersections safe and that’s what we’re going to use as the best practice when we talk to towns about when they should put in a red-light camera.”
There were 21 towns under review during the re-certification process. The state’s red light cameras are currently in a five-year pilot program. Lewis says that the state Department of Transportation has no plans to approve any more cameras until the pilot period is over. Even as early as next year, Lewis says there will be enough to glean from the program how New Jersey and other states have used and administered the system. Lewis adds that AAA won’t be relying on just the data generated from the program.
“It should be noted that AAA does a survey every other year and we ask motorists about these red light cameras and a majority of motorists continue to believe that they’re a good idea for traffic safety reasons. We continue to see a little bit more skepticism about the money piece but people do still think that in certain areas, it’s an important safety measure.”
Lewis says AAA has already detected a noticeable decrease in the number of certain accidents where red-light cameras are instilled.
“There’s been a decrease in a lot of the t-boning accidents which are those really horrible accidents where the cars run into each other coming [from] two different directions. So some of those dangerous accidents have decreased but we’re still seeing more accidents, perhaps rear-end collisions. So we’re going to have to take a look at all of that data before we decide if this really has improved traffic safety overall and whether or not towns have been really stringent in making sure that they’ve picked intersections, that this is really the only way to curb that traffic safety problem.”