TRENTON – Senator Nicholas P. Scutari (D-Union) said a report that the Department of Transportation has made it a goal to double the number of towns using red-light cameras is deeply concerning, adding that “it appears the state is using the pilot program as a means to raise revenue for towns and cities rather than to improve public safety as the Legislature intended.”
“I’ve long had concerns that cash-strapped municipalities would try to use the red-light camera program as a way to raise revenue from taxpayers, but I got some comfort in knowing the state would make an objective assessment as to whether an applicant met the qualifying criteria for the pilot program,” said Scutari. “However, to learn that the Christie Administration is making it a goal to ramp up participation in the program by actively seeking out municipalities to enroll is deeply concerning.”
The Star-Ledger reported Sunday the state DOT wants to double the number of towns with red-light cameras by January of 2013, when the pilot program ends. Cameras are currently operating in 12 towns or cities, according to the report, and three municipalities have altogether abandoned the red-light camera program.
Scutari said that while he has always opposed the use of red-light cameras, this latest push to recruit municipalities is troubling.
“While I have never supported government using these kinds of ‘Big Brother’ tactics to tap taxpayers’ wallets, I do believe lawmakers who created this pilot program did so with the best of intentions – to improve public safety,” added Scutari. “But, as far as I’m concerned, the administration’s active pursuit of additional municipalities to pilot the red-light cameras amounts to an outright abuse of the program. It’s clearly being used as a way to siphon money from New Jersey residents who are already overburdened with taxes and fees. This approach is predatory, and it’s fundamentally unfair.”
Scutari is the sponsor of legislation (S-197) that would repeal the five-year pilot program permitting the use of red-light cameras. The Senator has long believed the program is problematic, as it results in the issuance of tickets to vehicle registrants as opposed to drivers. He also has raised concerns that cameras could cause drivers to stop short at an intersection to avoid a ticket, resulting in a traffic accident.
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