TRENTON — Republican state Sen. Michael Doherty has introduced legislation that would direct towns to deposit all fines collected from violations recorded by red light cameras into the state’s Highway Safety Fund, eliminating the municipal share of red light camera ticket revenues.
He said the legislation will test the claims of local officials who say their only interest is the supposed safety benefits that cameras provide, not the hundreds of thousands of dollars in ticket revenues that can be produced by each camera.
“Despite growing proof that red light cameras have failed at their primary goal of improving driver safety, local officials continue to defend the cameras,” said Doherty. “It’s clear that many mayors and council members would rather have red light cameras ticket revenues for their budgets than safer roads for our families.”
The Highway Safety Fund 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 noted that a growing body of evidence suggests that red light cameras cause more accidents and injuries at the intersections they are supposed to make safer.
“We have data from NJDOT and other agencies around the country showing that more crashes occur at intersections after cameras are installed,” said Doherty. “It’s increasingly clear that mayors who continue to cry, ‘safety, safety, safety’ to defend their cameras are really thinking, ‘money, money, money.”
A report issued in November of 2012 by the New Jersey Department of Transportation, completed as an annual requirement of the state’s five-year red light camera pilot program, contains data showing that the total number of accidents, the total number of accidents resulting in injuries, and the total cost of accidents all increased at intersections after red light cameras were installed.
“This legislation puts to test the claims of mayors who say they only want red light cameras for their supposed safety benefits,” said Doherty. “I’m willing to bet that no local official will continue to fight for the right to install or keep red light cameras once the flow of money into town coffers disappears.”
Doherty maintains an online petition to ban red light cameras in New Jersey at http://senatenj.com/cameras. To date, the petition has been signed more than 6,500 times.