By AAA Mid-Atlantic, Inc.
AAA commends the New Jersey Department of Transportation action to suspend the red light camera program pending an investigation in 21 municipalities where those cameras may have been operating in violation of New Jersey state law.
According to NJDOT, state law requires duration of the amber light in a traffic signal that differs from the federal standard formula that NJDOT and New Jersey municipalities are required by law to use in operating traffic signals.
AAA is gravely concerned that red light cameras at intersections with overly short amber lights may have been in operation for three years, generating millions of dollars in revenue, without proper adherence to state law. Upon completion of the investigation, AAA calls for any municipality violating the law to fully refund any fines previously paid by motorists.
Although AAA believes that red light cameras can be beneficial in reducing crashes at intersections, this issue underscores our long-held position that such programs must be focused solely on safety and not on revenue.
In a recent survey of New Jersey motorists taken before the NJDOT action, the favorable rating of red light camera programs was the lowest it has been since the question was first asked in 2005. However, while support has steadily diminished, a majority of those surveyed, 61 percent, believed that the cameras can help ensure that New Jersey roads are safer. Meanwhile, 35 percent believe that the main purpose of the program is to generate revenue for municipalities rather than traffic safety.
The AAA Clubs of New Jersey – AAA North Jersey, AAA New Jersey Automobile Club, AAA Mid-Atlantic and AAA South Jersey – provide automotive, travel, insurance and financial services to more than 2 million members through 26 offices across the state.