Poll: Should Right Turns on Red be Prohibited at Intersections Equipped With Red Light Cameras?
State Sen. Shirley Turner has introduced legislation that would make it illegal for drivers to make right turns on red signals at intersections controlled by red light traffic enforcement camera systems like one intersection on Route 1 in Lawrence.
State Sen. Shirley Turner (D-Lawrence Township) last week introduced legislation that would make it illegal for drivers to make right turns during red lights at intersection where there is located red light traffic enforcement camera systems, such as the intersection of Route 1 (Brunswick Pike) and Bakers Basin Road/Franklin Corner Road in Lawrence Township.
Bill S2230 – a copy of which can be found in PDF format in the Patch media box to the right – “prohibits right turns on a red signal at intersections with traffic control signal monitoring systems (‘red light cameras’) and requires a sign to be posted near the traffic light indicating that such turns are prohibited,” according to a summary included within the legislation.
“The bill further provides that additional signage is required at intersections in safe corridors with red light cameras notifying drivers that the fine for a violation of the traffic light is double the amount otherwise specified by current law.”
The bill has been referred to the state Senate’s Transportation Committee for review.
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Right turns on red are currently legal at many of these intersections, including the one in Lawrence Township, but a driver is required both to come to a complete stop before making the turn and to also make that stop at or within a car length of the “stop line” painted on the roadway.
Failure to come to a complete stop or making the required stop too far beyond the marked “stop line” will result in the driver receiving a ticket for a red light violation. Fine amounts are doubled in many cases, including the one in Lawrence, because the intersection being controlled by the red light camera system is located within a state-designed “safe corridor” area.
”So many of my constituents have been outraged. They believe it is so unfair. They don’t know they have broken the law until they get a ticket in the mail,” Turner, who represents the state’s 15th Legislative District, told The Lawrence Ledger.
Complaints about the red light camera system in Lawrence prompted township officials in December 2011 – just two months after the cameras went “live” at Route 1 and Bakers Basin Road/Franklin Corner Road – to issue a “fact sheet” explaining why some motorists were being cited for making right turns on red and why each violation, at that time, resulted in fines totaling $140.
That fact sheet read:
The Township of Lawrence and County of Mercer have mutually entered into a contract with American Traffic Solutions (ATS) to provide photo enforcement service at the intersection of Brunswick Pike (Route One) and Franklin Corner Road / Bakers Basin Road. It is important to note that this service is paid on a flat monthly rental rate. The vendor is not paid on a per ticket basis. Also, the Town is protected in that if revenue received from the program does not match the rental fee, then the town is not responsible for the difference. This means that there is no financial risk to the taxpayers.
As previously stated, Mercer County has opted into the project as is their right according to law. The county receives half of the fine portion and is responsible to pay half of the monthly rental fee for the camera system.
The Amber light phase time of the intersection is not set by the vendor or the Township of Lawrence. Brunswick Pike (Route One) is a state highway and therefore, the signal times are set by the New Jersey Department of Transportation. The Amber light phase time has not changed due to the installation of this system.
The Township of Lawrence has given ATS specific guidance to determine if a red light violation should in fact be forwarded to the police department for the issuance of a summons. Contained within these guidelines is the fact that an offending vehicle must fail to stop at the intersection. If a vehicle completely stops at the intersection, then there is no summons issued, even if the stop is completed past the designated stop line.
Motorists must take note that the failure to stop at or near the stop line of the intersection will result in the issuance of the summons. It is also important to note that New Jersey Law requires vehicles to stop at the stop line prior to making a right turn on red. Lawrence Township guidelines require vehicles to stop in the area of the stop line within one car length for a violation to be issued. For example, if a vehicle stops three feet past the stop line but does come to a complete stop, no summons will be issued.
“Caravanning” is not allowed under New Jersey law. Therefore, if a motorist is stopped in a line of traffic and intends on making a right turn on red, the vehicle must stop within a car length of the stop line prior to or after the stop line in order to avoid being issued a summons. If a vehicle is at least one or more than one car length prior to the stop line and fails to stop from any point further on during a right on red turn, the vehicle will be subject to a summons.
Right turns on red are allowed at this intersection on the Franklin Corner Road and Bakers Basin Road sides, but a vehicle can only make a right turn on red if the vehicle completely stops at the intersection. “Rolling stops” are not considered complete stops and will result in the issuance of a summons.
It is important to note that this intersection does allow for pedestrian crossing. There are clearly marked crosswalks painted on the roadway that are located after the designated stop lines. Pedestrians routinely cross this intersection at all hours of the day. This is an important reason why vehicles making a right turn on red must stop within a cars length of the stop line.
The ATS camera system contains a digital camera and an additional video recorder. For every violation, the system takes two still digital photos. The first photo is at the stop line and the second photo is of the vehicle proceeding through the intersection. For each violation, a video clip of the violation is included with the violation package.
Motorists should note that since the digital camera has a sensor in the roadway near the stop line, there are numerous times that the camera flash will activate to take a photo. However, if the vehicle that activated the camera and flash does stop and does not go through the intersection in violation of the law, there is no summons issued. This is the reason why motorists often observe “flashes” when there is no vehicle running a red light.
After ATS reviews the incident and compares it to the guidelines for the Lawrence Township Photo Enforcement Program, they only forward potential violations packages on to the police department that violate the guidelines. A sworn police officer reviews each violation package to determine if in fact there is a violation of New Jersey Law. If a vehicle is found to be in violation, then the officer issues the summons electronically and the summons is mailed out to the offender. It is important to note that the summons is issued by a Lawrence Township Police Officer, not the vendor.
According to New Jersey law, a summons issued by a police officer under this program is issued as a violation of N.J.S. 39:4-81(c). The penalty imposed for this violation is a fine only. There are no points accessed regarding this violation.
It is also important to note that this entire intersection is designated by New Jersey Law as being part of the safe corridor law. Therefore, by state law, the fines are doubled for any moving violations at this location, including a red light running violation. Motorists who are issued a summons for this violation and who are found guilty, will be assessed an amount of $ 140.00. The amount of the summons is broken down as follows:
- Lawrence Township $55 (double $27.50 due to stretch of road being a NJ Safe Corridor)
- Mercer County $55 (double $27.50 due to stretch of road being a NJ Safe Corridor)
Costs - Municipality $18.50
Mandatory Funds (ATS, ATSM, EMTFF) - $5.50
- Special State Assessments:
- Body Armor Replacement Fund $1.00
- NJ Spinal Cord Research Fund $1.00
- NJ DNA Lab Fee $2.00
- Autism Medical Research and Treatment Fund $1.00
- NJ Brain Injury Fund $1.00
The total is $140.