There won't be any additional red light cameras in Lawrenceville or anywhere else in the Garden State in the near future, at least until a state pilot program comes to an end.
The New Jersey Department of Transportation announced last week that no new locations would be added to the list of authorized red light camera intersections because there would not be sufficient time to gather useful data under the pilot program, which is scheduled to end in December 2014.
Since its inception in 2009, red light cameras have grown to include 76 intersections across the state, with Lawrence Township joining the program in late 2011.
However, there is a growing debate about whether the cameras lead to an increased number of motor vehicle accidents.
Lawrence Police Chief Daniel Posluszny said earlier this year that accidents increased at the intersection of Route 1 and Franklin Corner Road/Bakers Basin Road after a red light camera was installed.
A total of 50 crashes took place at the intersection from December 2011 through November 2012, the first year the camera system was operational. Of those 50, 39 were rear-end collisions.
Between November 2010 and October 2011 before the camera system was installed, there were only 38 accidents at the intersection, with 30 rear-end collisions, according to the township police department.
“The numbers have gone up on accidents, and it’s concerning,” Posluszny said Feb. 19. “We’re still trying to look at it and come up with some thought process as to why and some options with it. It [the red light camera system] is there to improve safety, and in the first year accidents have increased. There’s no way around that.”
With Route 1 and Bakers Basin Road/Franklin Corner Road located in a state-designed “safe corridor” area, fines for red light violations are doubled to $140.
A total of 8,848 tickets were issued to motorists in 2012 for red light violations captured by the camera system at Route 1 and Franklin Corner Road/Bakers Basin Road, according to police. The majority of the violations were issued for improper turns onto Route 1 from the right-hand lane of Franklin Corner Road (4,673) and the right-hand lane of Bakers Basin Road (1,938).
Legislators throughout the state who have stated that money – not safety – is the primary motivator behind the cameras, applauded the decision by the DOT.
Assemblyman Declan O'Scanlon (R-Monmouth), a vocal critic of the cameras, said halting their expansion would eventaully lead to the program being eliminated outright.
"If they were to continue to turn on new cameras it would be a clear indication that the only goal of this program is money because, as the DOT explained in its release, there just wouldn’t be time to compile any usable data before the pilot program expires," O'Scanlon said. "Before you can put a bus in reverse you have to stop it, and stopping the proliferation of these insidious RLCs is a step towards their eventual elimination."