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South Plainfield, N.J. Mayor: Red Light Cameras Have Increased Accidents

Mayor Matthew Anesh Wants Stelton Road Cameras Taken Down
Red-light cameras (credit: CBS 2)

Red-light cameras (credit: CBS 2)

SOUTH PLAINFIELD, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — In the wake of a report indicating that accidents had actually increased at two New Jersey intersections with red light cameras, the mayor of South Plainfield has said it is time for the cameras to go.

As 1010 WINS’ Steve Sandberg reported, Mayor Matthew Anesh is tired of seeing people being rear-ended.

“These are people that are stopping, probably, in fear of getting a ticket,” he said.

Drivers have been slammed from behind multiple times at two intersections on Stelton Road – at Hadley Road and at New Brunswick Avenue — where red light cameras have been installed.

“Their intent is not to keep accidents at the same rate as they were prior to being implemented. This is making intersections safer, so by safer, you would expect to see the decrease,” Anesh said.

But he said crashes at the two intersections are up 50 percent, and he wants the cameras removed. And they are not even in South Plainfield, but in neighboring Piscataway.

In 2008, the Legislature authorized the five-year pilot program to determine whether the cameras reduced the frequency and severity of crashes at intersections with a history of motorists running red lights. Motorists have paid millions of dollars in fines because of the cameras; one small town in Gloucester County produced more than $1 million in paid violations from May 2011 through May 2012 from one intersection.

In June 2012, state officials suspended the program for a month after determining that 63 of the 85 cameras were not tested to ensure the yellow lights were timed properly and required towns to re-certify the cameras to specifications outlined in the legislation.

In March, a preliminary settlement was announced in which Arizona-based American Traffic Solutions would set up a $4.2 million fund to pay plaintiffs. The company did not admit any wrongdoing or liability.

The following month, the state said it had suspended plans to add more cameras before next December.

Just last month, New Jersey State Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon (R-Red Bank) presented online videos at several intersections in northern New Jersey where yellow lights were supposed to be either three or four seconds long, based on the average traffic speed of the intersecting roads. He said the short yellow lights led to the cameras snapping and sending tickets to people who did not break the law.

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