In a scathing indictment of Red Light Camera (RLC) operators and the New Jersey municipalities that deploy the devices, Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon today revealed what he described as “irrefutable evidence” that yellow light times at many New Jersey intersections do not meet the standards required by law, causing thousands of motorist to be hit with millions of dollars in unlawful fines.
Backed up by Barnet Fagel, a traffic expert with the National Motorists Association and Attorney Joseph Santoli who discovered in a New York case that RLC companies were shaving yellow light times in order to entrap drivers into being caught on camera running a red, O’Scanlon said that shortened yellow lights cause more accidents and that “safety is being sacrificed” for municipal and RCL company’s revenue.
Yellow lights are required to have either 3 or 4 second intervals, depending on the level of traffic and speed at the intersections. Fagel conducted a study this weekend of 12 of the approximately 80 New Jersey RLC intersections. All but “one or two” were found to have yellow lights that were between 1/10 and almost 3/10 of a second too short. Fagel presented the video evidence of his finding.
The most egregious of Fagel’s findings was in Jersey City at the intersection of Rt.1-9 and Sip Ave, a 4 second yellow light location. Fagel’s video showed that the yellow light lasted only 3.753 seconds.
O’Scanlon said that 80% of all RLC infractions occur during the first second of the red light. By shaving 1/10-3/10 of a second off the yellow lights, roughly 30% of the RLC generated tickets are unlawful.
O’Scanlon places the lion’s share of the blame for these rip-offs on the RLC operators. “These companies don’t give a damn about safety,” he said, “the industry is built on a fraudulent foundation and is rotten to the core.”
The municipal elected officials who authorized RLC in their communities, and the traffic engineers they employ, did not escape O’Scanlon’s wrath. “They are either incompetent or they are intentionally ripping off the public. Either was it’s egregious.”
O’Scanlon produced a June 2012 statement for the New Jersey Department of Transportation (DOT) wherein the department found that only 22 of New Jersey’s 85 RLC intersections were in compliance with the nationally accepted standards which DOT requires. The statement said that intersections with lights that do not meet the yellow standard will be removed from the New Jersey RCL pilot program.
New Jersey’s RLC five year pilot program expires in December of 2014. O’Scanlon said he is forwarding his finding to DOT and expects that those intersections not in compliance will be removed.
Additionally, O’Scanlon is proposing “One Second for Safety” legislation which would require an additional second be added to all yellow lights in New Jersey. He said that Virginia adding 1/2 second to their yellow lights resulted in a 60% reduction in red light infractions.