Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon, a Republican who represents the state’s 13th Legislative District in Monmouth County, responded to today’s (Oct. 16) Lawrenceville Patch article about the statistical increase in accidents at the red light camera-controlled intersection of Route 1 (Brunswick Pike) and Bakers Basin Road/Franklin Corner Road by issuing a statement this afternoon saying that red light cameras are “not decreasing accidents as promised.”
“I am not going to be as disingenuous as the municipal officials and camera company spokespeople and manipulate or misrepresent what these statistics tell us," O'Scanlon said. "Those officials take every instance of a reduction in accidents and claim that the cameras work - no matter how statistically insignificant the data might be. If we were going to play their game our headline would scream ‘Red Light Cameras INCREASE Accidents by 100 percent!’
"I won't stoop to their level and make that claim,” he continued. “What we can say is that we are finding, and will continue to find, exactly what has been found in other states and jurisdictions that have experimented with these devices over the past several decades - basically that these cameras don't increase safety, and in many instances reduce it. What these cameras do is give these private companies and governments the ability to pull money out of our pockets in the name of safety."
Using data provided by the Lawrence Township police department, Lawrenceville Patch reported that a total of 25 accidents (involving five injuries but no deaths) happened at or within 200 feet of the intersection between Nov. 18, 2010, and June 29, 2011 – before the cameras were installed – compared to 49 accidents (nine injuries, no deaths) between Nov. 18, 2011, and June 29 of this year after the cameras were in place.
Eighteen of the 25 collisions that happened during the pre-camera sample period involved rear-end impacts, while rear-end impacts factored into 35 of the 49 crashes during the sample period with the cameras.
Between Nov. 18, 2011, and Oct. 10 of this year – the most recent date for which statistics were available – tickets were issued for a total of 9,342 violations, according to the police statistics.
"This Lawrenceville data is clear evidence that these cameras are not having the desired effect,” O’Scanlon said. “They’ve written over $1,000,000 worth of citations while accidents increased substantially. What camera proponents like to point out as evidence that they are changing behavior is that the number of tickets being issued at camera intersections goes down over time – to them indicating that we are changing behavior. But the behavior that changes isn't the behavior that causes accidents, as can be seen by the Lawrenceville statistics. We are simply making drivers paranoid and overly cautious – sometimes to the detriment of safety.
“We are not saying definitively that the cameras are causing these accidents,” O’Scanlon added. “We can confidently say that the cameras net affect at this particular intersection has been either neutral or substantially negative. Is more than a million dollars per year – from this one intersection - being siphoned out of the wallets of taxpayers worth it? The answer is unquestionably no.”
He concluded by saying, “Accident rates at any intersection fluctuate year to year. I think we are going to learn that while some intersections have seen a decrease in accidents, others will see an increase. But most of these fluctuations have nothing to do with the cameras; it is all a matter of standard deviation. The question we are left with is, are these cameras necessary or even marginally beneficial from a safety standpoint? The answer is, no.”
A PDF copy of O’Scanlon's statement can be found in the media box above.