Letter to the Editor: Red Light Cameras Causing Progress in New Jersey
David Kelly is the Executive Director of the National Coalition for Safer Roads and Former Acting Administrator for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
A recent report on red-light safety cameras from the New Jersey Department of Transportation has surfaced vocal camera program opponents who are not taking into consideration the bigger picture.
Important statistics — that any traffic safety expert would see as positive progress — aren’t getting the attention they deserve. The bottom line is citations are down, the often fatal right-angle “t-bone” crashes have decreased and these trends continue to rise at intersections where red-light safety cameras have been operational for two years.
Camera programs are implemented with the sole purpose of positively changing driver behavior to make intersections and roadways a safer place for residents to walk, cycle and drive. Adjustments to bad driving habits don’t happen overnight. These changes come as drivers adapt to the presence of safety cameras, as proven in successful programs across the country. This is also apparent in New Jersey when comparing intersections where cameras have been in operation for two years to those that have only had cameras for one year.
The number of citations issued to red-light safety camera violators decreased by 50 percent after the first year of operation, clearly proving that drivers are changing their behavior. At intersections where cameras have operated for two years, citations dropped by 85 percent when comparing month one to month twenty-four — a significant jump from year one.
Right-angle crashes went down by 15 percent at intersections with camera programs operational for one year and 86 percent at intersections with programs in place for two years. Lastly, total crashes are down 57 percent at intersections where cameras have been effectively changing driver behavior for two years.
The safety of New Jersey’s roadways is top priority for this pilot program. It is time people look to the experts to make informed decisions. New Jersey’s Department of Transportation has recommended that the successful pilot program stay in place as they continue to monitor the proven effectiveness of the cameras. Dangerous habits are hard to break, but these facts prove that safety cameras are helping New Jersey drivers learn to be more conscious while approaching an intersection and instilling the importance of always stopping on red.
-David Kelly, Executive Director of the National Coalition for Safer Roads