TRENTON — A Republican state senator who has been a consistent opponent of New Jersey’s red light camera pilot program is proposing new legislation that would redirect the proceeds from traffic tickets issued as a result of the cameras to the state’s Highway Safety Fund.
State Sen. Michael Doherty says the bill would directly challenge the claims of mayors and local officials who say they support red light camera systems for their supposed safety benefits rather than the hundreds of thousands of dollars of ticket revenue that can flow into municipal budgets from each monitored intersection.
“This legislation allows towns to keep the cameras that local officials say make their intersections safer, but not the ticket revenues their cameras generate,” said Doherty. “Every mayor and local official who is on record saying cameras are about safety, not money, should support this bill. If they don’t, it will prove their previous support of cameras under the guise of safety was fraudulent. Reporters who previously interviewed local officials who made such claims should go back and ask those same officials if they support this bill.”
The Highway Safety Fund, where red light camera ticket revenues would be directed under the proposed legislation, is used exclusively for highway safety projects and programs, including education, enforcement, capital improvements and such other related measures and undertakings as the Department of Transportation and the Division of State Police may deem appropriate to foster highway safety.
Doherty said that if increasing safety is truly the goal, it makes sense for red light cameras ticket revenues to be deposited in a fund dedicated to improving highway safety.
“Under current law, most red light camera ticket revenues go to supporting bloated municipal budgets, which is unproductive,” said Doherty. “Since increasing safety is supposedly the goal of red light cameras, we should put ticket revenues to productive use in the Highway Safety Fund which is dedicated to making New Jersey’s roads safer.”
Doherty concluded by questioning whether local officials will still want their “safety” cameras if they no longer get a cut of ticket revenues.
“How many towns and local officials will continue to demand the opportunity to install red light cameras or fight to keep the cameras they already have if their share of ticket revenues is cut off?” asked Doherty. “My guess is very few. That will prove that the real purpose of red light cameras is to use citizens as a cash cow to fund big government.”
Doherty maintains an online petition, signed more than 6,000 times, to ban red light cameras in New Jersey at http://senatenj.com/cameras.