O’SCANLON SEES RED OVER RED-LIGHT CAMS

A video posted on YouTube last month by a red-light-camera vendor has drawn fire from a local legislator.

By JOHN T. WARD

Does the above video support the need for red-light cameras?

Posted by camera systems vendor American Traffic Solutions on YouTube in late December, the video is apparently meant to suggest the need for traffic-signal cameras to prevent accidents, though it makes no mention of such systems.

But state 12th-district Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon of Little Silver says the only thing the video compilation proves is that video-monitoring systems at traffic signals are “about the money, not safety.”

O’Scanlon calls the revenue from such systems “ill-gotten gains.”

Both Fair Haven and Middletown have mulled whether to install red-light cameras to catch motorists who run red lights. ATS has an array of the videos showing similar accidents and near-misses from locales around the United States.

Here’s the text of a press release issued by O’Scanlon’s office Tuesday afternoon:

O’Scanlon: Red Light Camera Industry’s Own Video Challenges Assertions – It’s About the Money, Not Safety

 A video disseminated by American Traffic Solutions (“ATS”) depicts a series of crashes and near misses at intersections chosen to participate in New Jerseys five-year red-light camera pilot program. The mission of the five-year pilot program is to determine the effectiveness of the installation and utilization of traffic control signal monitoring systems. Under the program, a traffic control signal monitoring system utilizes cameras and vehicle sensors, which work in conjunction with a traffic control signal to produce images of vehicles disregarding a red signal and running a red light”. Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon thinks the ATS video is proof positive of the resounding failure of the program.

 “Red-light cameras are intended to deter drivers from running red lights, or so goes the argument from supporters of the cameras,” explained O’Scanlon (R Monmouth/Mercer). This video showed what I have always believed, red-light cameras do not stop people from running red lights because most drivers do not make a conscience decision to run a red light.

 “Drivers who run red lights are distracted by a bad day at work, a sick child, or a bad nights sleep,” O’Scanlon continued. “No camera or fine, regardless of the amount, is going to change this. What really stops people from running red lights is the same thing that has stopped them for as long as cars have been on the road -the fear of serious injury or death!

“If one looks at the video objectively it is easy to see that virtually all of the incidents depict the situation I outline above. These people are not likely reckless scofflaws playing Russian roulette with their lives and those of others. These people simply weren’t aware they were going through a red light. Laws and fines won’t stop these momentary lapses in peoples’ awareness if fear of death hasn’t done so already” said O’Scanlon. “We need to increase safety as much as possible through sound engineering of intersections and proper light timing. This will give us a demonstrable increase in safety. Of course it will mean a lot less revenue for the towns currently participating in the demonstration project, but these are ill-gotten gains to begin with.”

New Jersey’s red-light camera pilot program began in 2008, since then 25 municipalities have signed on to the program.

O’Scanlon’s 12th district includes Red Bank, Fair Haven, Little Silver, Shrewsbury and Tinton Falls, among others.