N.J. report: Red-light cameras limit number of crashes

Red-light cameras (right) are mounted on eastbound Route 70, at Springdale Road in Cherry Hill. (Tom Gralish/File photo)
Red-light cameras (right) are mounted on eastbound Route 70, at Springdale Road in Cherry Hill. (Tom Gralish/File photo)
Posted: April 02, 2014

A transportation report issued Monday about the use of red-light cameras throughout New Jersey shows a decrease in crashes at intersections where the devices are used.

Two locations where a three-year analysis was available shows that right-angle crashes are down 86 percent, rear-end crashes are down 58 percent, and total crashes are down 72 percent, according to the New Jersey Department of Transportation. Estimated crash-severity costs have been reduced $246,200.

Initially, rear-end crashes at some intersections increased, according to a report issued a year ago. The reports are part of a five-year red-light pilot program that was launched in 2009 and ends in December.

The use of the cameras has come under attack in New Jersey and in Philadelphia, where motorists successfully sued, alleging cameras at some intersections were not properly operated.

Monday's report does not address camera operation, only crash and citation statistics.

"It is important to remember that safety trends are never established over a single year," according to the report. It showed decreases in all categories, including citations issued.

"There's no question that driver behavior in the state of New Jersey is changing," said Charles Territo of American Traffic Solutions Inc., the company that installs red-light cameras.

"The results in this report shows that New Jersey intersections with red-light cameras are becoming safer and safer each year," Territo said.

The report includes data from red-light cameras installed in three Camden County municipalities - Cherry Hill, Gloucester Township, and Stratford - and in Glassboro and Deptford in Gloucester County.

When the pilot program ends, local authorities in more than 80 municipalities do not have the legislative authority to extend the use of cameras.

The transportation study makes no use recommendation, but does suggest that a more thorough analysis with 2013 and 2014 data would be beneficial.

"All we're saying is, we should continue to compile the data," said Steve Schapiro, a spokesman for the New Jersey Department of Transportation. "We can't speculate what the data will show."

Last year, the Christie administration said no new cameras would be added. Officials declined to comment on the latest study, referring questions to the Transportation Department.

Only two of the intersections had data available for three years. The rest included one- or two-year comparisons.

The municipalities with the three-year analysis showed that citations were down 83 percent, which Territo said was another indication that driver habits had changed.

"While there is no expectation that either crashes or citations will drop to zero," Monday's report said, "there is an expectation that driver behavior will change with the presence of [red-light cameras], and these locations appear to be fulfilling these expectations."

The report said two-year comparisons showed right-angle crashes were down 60 percent, rear-end crashes were down 7 percent, and total crashes down 27 percent. Estimated crash-severity costs have been reduced $787,200, and citations are down 61 percent.

The report addressed the differences between findings in last year's report and Monday's findings. There is a need to compile a "sufficient amount of data before drawing conclusions for programs such as this."


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