New Jersey Suspends Use of Traffic-Light Cameras in 21 Towns

The New Jersey Transportation Department, saying dozens of red-light cameras may not be properly calibrated, ordered 21 of the 25 towns that installed them to stop issuing tickets based on their findings.

The suspension affects 63 of the 85 intersections where cameras were installed to snap photos of drivers running stop lights, the department said in a statement.

New Jersey began a pilot program in 2008 allowing towns to place the cameras at problem intersections as a deterrent. The cameras snap a photo of drivers who go through the intersection after a yellow light has changed to red, and the driver is mailed a summons.

In its statement, the Transportation Department said the duration of yellow lights at only 22 of the intersections were long enough to meet the minimum timing set forth in the original legislation. As part of the order, the timing of each light will be scrutinized and those that don’t stay yellow long enough will be removed from the program.

Joe Dee, a spokesman for Transportation Commissioner James Simpson, said the cameras will still be taking pictures during the review. If problems are found, some outstanding violations may be vacated, he said.

“Those cameras will still be operating,” he said today in a telephone interview. “If our study shows the yellow lights were long enough, then those violations will still go out. This isn’t an indictment of the whole program. We’re taking this one step at a time.”

Newark to Monroe

The suspension affects all cameras installed in Newark, Linden, Wayne, Palisades Park, Union Township, Springfield, Roselle Park, Rahway, Englewood Cliffs, Pohatcong, Piscataway, Edison, East Windsor, Lawrence, Cherry Hill, Stratford, Monroe, Brick and Glassboro. It also affects one camera each in Jersey City and Woodbridge.

Twelve cameras in Jersey City and three in Woodbridge will continue issuing tickets, along with those in Deptford, East Brunswick, Gloucester and New Brunswick.

A permanent ban on all red-light cameras is needed, said Senator Michael Doherty, a Republican from Warren County who sponsors legislation that would prohibit the use of such equipment in New Jersey. Red-light cameras are an invasion of privacy and don’t result in less accidents, he has said.

“If safety is truly the goal, there are simple steps that towns could take to fix dangerous intersections, such as increasing the length of yellow lights,” Doherty said in a statement today. “The fact that simple fixes continue to be ignored while ticket revenues continue to flow into town coffers makes you wonder if safety is really the goal.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Terrence Dopp in Trenton at tdopp@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Stephen Merelman at smerelman@bloomberg.net

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