Red Light Camera Reform Bill Introduced
Local legislator Declan O'Scanlon, R-13, introduced a bipartisan bill to reform red light cameras.
With Red Light Cameras throughout the state having been turned back on following a recent suspension, and with other towns, like Shrewsbury, considering setting up cameras of their own at busy intersections, a bipartisan bill has been introduced in the state assembly to alleviate some of the criticisms associated with the controversial program.
Local legislator Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon, R-13, a noted opponent of the Red Light Camera program, is a lead sponsor of the reform bill, which was introduced Wednesday. According to a release, the proposed legislation increases yellow light timing at intersections with cameras by a full second. It also would reduce the fine of right turns on red from $85 to $20 and finally would mandate a half-second grace period once the light turns red to allow cars to move through the intersection.
The changes are necessary, O’Scanlon argues, because of existing flaws in a program he believes doesn’t increase safety anyway, but is instead used only as a way for towns to generate revenue. In June, Gov. Chris Christie ordered a majority of the state’s Red Light Cameras suspended after concerns were raised over inaccurate timing. Though the cameras were eventually turned back on, O’Scanlon claims an engineer he hired personally to assess yellow light timing following the restart still found flaws in the system.
“If these cameras are going to be used by our towns they must operate in accordance with the intent of the law and the programming parameters must be clearly laid out in that law,” O’Scanlon said in a statement. “This new legislation solves all of the flaws of the current pilot program, eliminates confusion and ensures our constituents are being treated fairly. I would be perfectly happy to end this failed program immediately, failing that, we must enact this legislation.”
The bill already has bipartisan support from legislators in Monmouth, Bergen, Hunterdon and Somerset Counties.
Though the Red Light Camera program has been beset with complaints and criticisms, towns like Shrewsbury have attempted to get into the program. In Shrewsbury’s case, the case for cameras comes down to having heavily trafficked intersections and a limited police force.
Shrewsbury, a town with just over 3,000 people, sees an estimated 50,000 people drive through it on most days, according to officials. The proposed cameras would be located at two intersections: Route 35 and Sycamore Avenue and Route 35 and Shrewsbury Avenue.
Councilman Tom Menapace said the borough only has between two and three officers on patrol at a time and is unable to spend significant time stationed at the two intersections. The camera quest has yet to make it out of a preliminary stage, however, as Shrewsbury continues to investigate the program. With pressure to end the program coming from officials throughout the state, Shrewsbury’s efforts to get cameras of its own may never come to fruition.