NJ Suspends Red-Light Camera Program in 21 Towns

The state Department of Transportation said 63 of the 85 cameras around the state have not been adequately tested with their paired signal lights

By Samantha Henry
|  Wednesday, Jun 20, 2012  |  Updated 6:25 AM EDT
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New Jersey suspended a red-light camera program Tuesday in all but four of the 25 municipalities in the pilot program, saying the traffic signals are not timed according to program standards. 

The state Department of Transportation said 63 of the 85 cameras around the state have not been adequately tested with their paired signal lights.

Tickets won't be issued at the 63 locations until the department determines compliance with state standards.

But DOT Spokesman Joe Dee said drivers should understand that the cameras "will keep rolling" while the reviews are being completed and, if it's found those cameras are in compliance with state standards, tickets will be sent out for violations committed during that time.

If it's found that any cameras were not in compliance with state standards, Dee said, officials will then decide whether to reimburse or offer other consideration to people who received and paid tickets that were issued because of the cameras.

Meanwhile, 21 municipalities where the program was suspended will have to specifically re-certify the timing of the yellow lights by August 1.

The five-year pilot program was authorized by the Legislature in 2008, as a way to determine whether use of the cameras reduce the frequency and severity of crashes at intersections with a history of motorists running red lights. Motorists have paid millions of dollars in fines because of the cameras.

Officials found that the formula used to calculate the duration of yellow lights under legislation governing the pilot program differs from the national formula that New Jersey's DOT uses when installing traffic lights. The formula is designed to ensure that drivers have enough time to respond to a red light and prevent a collision.

Every traffic signal at each of the 85 intersections in the pilot program conforms to the nationally accepted standard used by NJDOT. But only 22 traffic signals of the 85 were certified in accordance with the formula specified in the legislation.

The Star-Ledger of Newark first reported the program's suspension.

Studies have shown that the cameras decrease collisions at intersections, though a 2005 study by the Federal Highway Safety Administration found that rear-end crashes increased 8 percent, likely due to people slamming on the brakes approaching intersections. 

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