PRESS RELEASE: Traffic Safety Coalition Releases New Video On Dangerous Red Light Running In New Jersey

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media Contact: Nick Juliano
(312) 768-4798
Nick@trafficsafetycoalition.com

TRAFFIC SAFETY COALITION RELEASES NEW VIDEO ON DANGEROUS RED LIGHT RUNNING IN NEW JERSEY
Video highlights drastic red light running increases in Newark since end of photo enforcement program

CHICAGO – [DATE] – Red light running is on the rise at previously photo enforced intersections, including a 116 percent increase in Newark just three months since New Jersey cities were forced to end their traffic safety camera programs. Now the Traffic Safety Coalition has released a new video highlighting what happens when drivers fail to stop on red.

The video features statements from Newark Mayor Ras Baraka, Union Township Committeeman Clifton People, Jr., Springfield Police Chief John Cooke and New Jersey State League of Municipalities Executive Director Bill Dressel from a December 4, 2014 news conference when mayors, state legislators, law enforcement and traffic safety advocates came together to call for the continuation of New Jersey’s traffic safety camera program and warn of the dangers of the program turning off.  Intense video from red light running crashes and near misses is layered with data points on the impact ending New Jersey’s red light camera program has had in Newark.

“If the cameras go dead, that’ll be a travesty through our communities,” says Union Township Committeeman Clifton People, Jr. in the video. “It’ll be a travesty to all those who we are served to protect.”

The end of photo enforcement programs have already proven to be a travesty for Newark residents, who have seen a dramatic increase in red light running since their traffic safety camera program ended. According to data provided by the City of Newark Department of Engineering’s Division of Traffic and Signals, for example, there have been 56,443 more red light running violations in Newark from mid-December 2014 to March 17, 2015 compared to the same dates a year ago.  Specifically:

Time cameras have been off Comparison Dates Violations % increase

in violations

One month 12/18/14 – 1/16/15 31,494 +56%
12/17/13 – 1/16/14 20,162
Two months 1/17/14 – 2/15/15 39,638 +98%
1/17/13 – 2/15/14 20,007
Three months 2/16/15 – 3/17/15 47,445 +116%
2/16/14 – 3/17/14 21,965

 

“The data speaks for itself,” says Springfield Chief of Police John Cook in the video. “As far as eliminating the program, which certainly goes against what law enforcement advises, the statement that it would have no impact on dangerous driving is completely untrue.”

New Jersey’s red light camera program ended on December 16, 2014 when the state legislature failed to reauthorize the five-year New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT)-administered pilot program. The City of Newark has continued to collect data – without issuing citations – at intersections formerly equipped with active traffic safety cameras to measure the impact the program’s end is having on road safety and driving habits.

“It changes driver behavior, and that is what is important here,” New Jersey State League of Municipalities Executive Director Bill Dressel says in the video. “Put all the other nonsense aside that you hear. Take a look at the facts.”

When active, traffic safety cameras drastically reduced red light running and the resulting crashes at intersections where they were in use. According to the NJDOT’s Third Annual Report on the state’s camera program, released in March 2014, cameras reduced dangerous right-angle crashes by as much as 86 percent at intersections where they had been operating for three years. Rear-end crashes also dropped by 58 percent at those intersections and total crashes reduced by 72 percent. Citations also went down by 83 percent.

“Any life saved in the city of Newark is important to me,” says Newark Mayor Ras Baraka in the video. “So anybody that is saved because of the red light cameras existence means that the program is successful in my eyes.”

###

About the Traffic Safety Coalition:
The Traffic Safety Coalition (TSC) conducts ongoing advocacy and education efforts with traffic safety experts, law enforcement, public officials, victims’ advocates, health care professionals and concerned citizens committed to making our roads and intersections safer for drivers, passengers, and pedestrians. TSC partners share a commitment to traffic safety. We work with our partners throughout the country to teach drivers the importance of safe and responsible driving. By stopping on red, obeying the speed limit, buckling up, and obeying the rules of the road, we are working together to create a safer environment for everyone on the road.

The Traffic Safety Coalition is a past winner of the Peter K. O’Rourke Special Achievement Award from the Governors Highway Safety Association for outstanding achievements in highway safety.

No TSC partner organization or individual is compensated for their involvement. The TSC is funded by the traffic safety camera industry and its supporters and is managed by Resolute Consulting, a Chicago-based public affairs firm. Read more here.

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PRESS RELEASE: Red Light Running Up 116% In Newark In Three Months After Red Light Cameras Go Dark

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media Contact: Nick Juliano
(312) 768-4798
Nick@trafficsafetycoalition.com

RED LIGHT RUNNING UP 116% IN NEWARK IN THREE MONTHS AFTER RED LIGHT CAMERAS GO DARK
New data provided by the Newark Department of Engineering shows the longer cameras are off, the more dangerous Newark roads become

Newark, New Jersey – March 31, 2015 – Red light running is up an astonishing 116 percent just three months after Newark’s traffic safety camera program ended. According to data provided by the City of Newark Department of Engineering Division of Traffic and Signals, 47,445 violations were detected from February 16, 2015 to March 17, 2015 compared to just 21,965 violations during the same time period last year – an increase of 25,000 violations during a one month time period.

“The drastic 116% increase in red light running should be a clear warning to New Jersey families everywhere about what happens when cameras are turned off,” said Sue Oberhauser, national co-chair of the Traffic Safety Coalition, whose daughter, Sarah was killed by a red light runner in 2002. “Red light cameras work. They successfully reduce crashes, red light running violations, and save lives.”

The 116 percent increase in red light running violations follows a dangerous trend over the last three months: the longer cameras are off, the more reckless drivers become.  When comparing violation totals from one year to the next, the results are shocking:

Time cameras have been off Comparison Dates Violations % increase in violations
One month 12/18/14 – 1/16/15 31,494 +56%
12/17/13 – 1/16/14 20,162
Two months 1/17/14 – 2/15/15 39,638 +98%
1/17/13 – 2/15/14 20,007
Three months 2/16/15 – 3/17/15 47,445 +116%
2/16/14 – 3/17/14 21,965

 

In just three months, drivers in Newark have returned to their old ways and reversed five years of improvements in road safety from the city’s red light camera program. According to the Newark’s mandatory five-year report filed with the New Jersey Department of Transportation earlier this year, intersections with cameras saw dramatic decreases in red light running and crashes and the longer cameras were in place, the greater the safety benefit.  At intersections where cameras were in place all five years of the pilot program, there was an:

  • 83% decrease in total crashes
  • 83% decrease in rear-end crashes
  • 100% decrease in right-angle or “t-bone” crashes, the most dangerous type of collision

Newark’s red light cameras were turned off on December 16, 2014 when the state legislature failed to reauthorize the five-year New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT)-administered camera pilot program. The City of Newark has continued to collect data – without issuing citations – at intersections formerly equipped with active traffic safety cameras to measure the impact the program’s end is having on road safety and driving habits.

Legislation (A3964/S2643) has been introduced by Assembly members L. Grace Spencer (D-29), Ralph Caputo (D-28), and Eliana Pintor Marin (D-29) and Senators Ronald Rice (D-28) and M. Teresa Ruiz (D-29), respectively, to permanently establish New Jersey’s traffic safety camera program. The bill would also allow all municipalities to participate in the red light camera program and require that one half of all red light camera ticket revenue be used to improve highway traffic safety.

The Traffic Safety Coalition and its partners urge lawmakers to pass A3964/S2643 and keep New Jersey roadways safe and hold red light runners accountable.

###

About the Traffic Safety Coalition:

The Traffic Safety Coalition is funded by the traffic safety camera industry and its supporters to assist ongoing advocacy and education efforts of traffic safety experts, law enforcement, public officials, victims’ advocates, health care professionals and concerned citizens committed to making our roads and intersections safer for drivers, passengers, and pedestrians. TSC partners share a commitment to traffic safety. No TSC partner organization or individual is compensated for their involvement. The Traffic Safety Coalition is managed by Resolute Consulting, a Chicago-based public affairs firm.

The Traffic Safety Coalition received the 2011 Peter K. O’Rourke Special Achievement Award from the Governors Highway Safety Association for outstanding achievements in highway safety. Read more here.

We work with our partners throughout the country to teach drivers the importance of safe and responsible driving.  By buckling up, slowing down and obeying the rules of the road, we are working together to create a safer environment for everyone on the road.

 

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Editorial: Keep the traffic cameras

Statehouse politicians shouldn’t substitute their judgement for that of law-enforcement professionals
By Blade Editorial Board
March 29, 2015 • The Blade 

Statehouse politicians are all for home rule and local control — except when they aren’t. A bad new state law imposes unreasonable restrictions on Ohio communities, including Toledo, that operate traffic cameras to identify and cite speeders and red-light runners. It deserves to be struck down.

This month, Lucas County Common Pleas Court Judge Dean Mandros effectively suspended enforcement of the new law in Toledo while he reviews arguments by city officials that the law violates home-rule provisions of the state Constitution. The cities of Columbus, Dayton, Akron, Springfield, and East Cleveland also are challenging the law, which the General Assembly passed and Gov. John Kasich signed last year.

There have been isolated reports of a few Ohio communities using traffic cameras primarily as revenue-raising devices in speed traps. If Toledo is engaging in the cash grab its critics contend, it isn’t working very well: The city has failed to collect more than $14 million in camera-related fines dating back five years.

Most communities that use cameras, including Toledo, do so for valid law-enforcement purposes. The Toledo Police Department has 48 cameras at 28 sites across the city, as well as a mobile unit to detect speeding in school zones.

Lucas County Common Pleas Judge Dean Mandros

Lucas County Common Pleas Judge Dean Mandros (THE BLADE)

Department officials offer statistical evidence that the cameras have significantly reduced traffic collisions and violations, as well as speeding on such notoriously high-velocity thoroughfares as the Anthony Wayne Trail. They add that the cameras supplement the work of uniformed officers who can’t be at every busy intersection all the time.

The new law negates this advantage by requiring a police officer to observe a violation personally, even if it is caught on camera, before a civil citation can be issued. That forced duplication of effort renders the cameras excessively costly and essentially useless — just as the law’s supporters intend.

At the same time, Toledo officials say, the law does not indicate what should replace the camera program to enforce traffic law. Is state government prepared to restore the aid to local communities that it’s slashed in recent years, so that they can hire more police officers?

The law’s backers now threaten to reduce state aid to Toledo and other communities further to compensate for their collection of fines from the traffic cameras. That warning suggests petty vindictiveness rather than high principle.

Although he has yet to rule on the new law’s constitutionality, Judge Mandros said Toledo has “a high likelihood of success” in its legal challenge. He added that he expects the case to reach the Ohio Supreme Court, which previously has upheld local communities’ authority to operate traffic cameras — provided that fair procedures are in place for motorists to appeal citations.

When communities use the cameras properly, there is no need for state lawmakers and the governor to substitute their definition of best police practices. These officials may feel compelled to pander politically to scofflaws, and to demand an artificial statewide uniformity of local policies. Judges shouldn’t.

There is a growing Statehouse effort to nullify home rule, on issues ranging from law enforcement to environmental regulation, from hiring for local public works projects to the conduct of elections. It needs to end. Dumping the traffic-camera law would be a good start.

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Columbus will fight to keep using red-light cameras

By Gary Seman Jr.
March 18, 2015 • ThisWeek Community News 

Columbus city officials say they plan to file a lawsuit seeking to repeal Ohio Senate Bill 342, which effectively ends the use of red-light cameras.

Public Safety Director George Speaks confirmed today, March 18, the city plans to file a lawsuit Friday, March 20, in Franklin County Common Pleas Court.

Columbus joins the cities of Akron, Dayton and Toledo, which have filed similar suits in their respective counties.

At midnight Monday, March 23, 38 red-light cameras throughout Columbus are scheduled to be turned off.

Speaks said city officials will not seek a temporary restraining order, meaning the cameras will be shut down during pending court action.

He said Columbus will argue S.B. 342, passed last year with bipartisan support, violates “home rule” protection in the Ohio Constitution and puts undue financial burden on the city.

S.B. 342 requires cities and villages to deploy a police cruiser at intersections with red-light cameras, which electronically record people running red lights. Traffic violation tickets are then issued based on the cameras’ image captures.

“That is not only absurd and irrational I believe it’s unconstitutional,” Speaks said of the bill’s requirements.

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LEGISLATURE: Texas senators hope to nix red light cameras

By Stephen Green
March 13, 2015 • The Magnolia Potpourri

Texas SenateFourteen state senators, including Conroe’s Brandon Creighton, hope their bill will spell the end of red light cameras in Texas.

Creighton is one of the legislators who authored Senate Bill 1340, which completely bans red light cameras throughout the state by outlawing all forms of photo enforcement by camera.

“Not only at local level are residents having their voices heard, but also at state level,” Creighton said of his constituents. “I’m not compelled that the use of red light cameras statewide or locally is best policy. I’m going to stay consistent with that position until I am presented with a compelling argument otherwise.”

Conroe residents voted in May 2014 to remove and prohibit the systems from city limits.

State Sen. Don Huffines, R-Dallas, issued a statement Thursday announcing the legislation, saying it will provide “liberty to the people of Texas” and that “studies have shown that these type of enforcement measures have led to an increase in car wrecks, and these measures have never been voted in favor of by the people of Texas.”

“They understand that red light cameras and all forms of traffic enforcement by camera are unwanted, unsafe, and must be outlawed in Texas,” Huffines said of the other primary authors. “This is a bipartisan issue to help protect the freedoms that are bestowed to us. … Texans are tired of being found guilty by a machine. It’s time to put a stop to these cameras.”

The Federal Highway Administration conducted a study on over 132 red light camera intersections and determined that the number of rear-end crashes went up about 15 percent. However, that same study showed that the number of “T-bone” crashes decreased by 25 percent when the cameras were installed.

The FHA said there was a “moderate aggregate.”

There are two Democrats who have signed on to the bill – Eddie Lucio Jr. of Brownsville, and Carlos Uresti, of San Antonio.

State Sen. Robert Nichols, R-Jacksonville, chairs the Transportation Committee where the bill likely will be handled. He said as a rule of thumb, he doesn’t sign on to bills that will go through his committee, but that he is opposed to red light cameras.

“The cities were never given authority to operate red light cameras,” Nichols said. “… Cities just started doing it.”

A spokesman for State Rep. Mark Keough, R-The Woodlands, said Keough would want to prohibit the red light cameras because individuals “lose the ability to face their accuser.” State Rep. Will Metcalf, R-Conroe, said he would support the legislation “on very simple grounds that it allows us to stop this overreaching revenue stream that violates our constitutional right to face our accuser.” State Rep. Cecil Bell, R-Magnolia, said he also “generally supports” the premise of the bill.

SB 1340 goes hand-in-hand with SB 340, which alters a separate section of the Texas Transportation Code outlawing the systems in general, not just the enforcement of them. SB 340, also authored by Huffines, also makes local governments liable for the costs of any complaint that comes from a citation, including attorney fees.

Voters in Houston have prohibited the systems, while The Woodlands also removed the cameras from the township. The city of Willis still has the systems, according to City Manager Hector Forestier. The Willis City Council chose to keep the contract on the system with American Traffic Solutions in December.

If the bills pass, the laws would go into effect Sept. 1.

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Editorial: Limp laws put brakes on safety

By Amarillo Globe-News Editorial Board
March 14, 2015 • Amarillo Globe-News

We’ll admit it. We have been caught running a red light by the city of Amarillo’s self-described “traffic signal safety cameras.”

It is common knowledge (then again, maybe it is not, since knowledge doesn’t seem all that common these days), that there is little, if any, consequence for motorists who choose not to pay the $75 fine. There’s really little need to break a sweat about the $25 late fee, either.

Because of the Texas Legislature, cities cannot do much as far as punishing those caught red-handed running a red light by a traffic camera.

You might (and we emphasize might) have trouble registering your vehicle depending on your county of residence, but a warrant will not be issued for your arrest and your driving record will not show any such violation.

In other words, if you don’t pay the fine, you’ll still be fine.

While it is a bit confusing that such a limp law exists in Amarillo (why have an ordinance with little penalty?), we can see more such traffic laws coming in the future, thanks to technology.

The National Coalition for Safer Roads cites numerous statistics that support the need for red-light traffic cameras, such as “red-light running” being the leading cause for urban crashes in the nation, and more than 8,700 people being killed in intersection or
intersection-related auto crashes in a year’s span.

We’re not disputing the numbers.

The question remains, though, as far as Amarillo is concerned, is why have a toothless ordinance to address this problem? That is a question for Texas, though, not necessarily the city.

If technology continues to progress (which it will), there will be more photographic solutions to traffic problems.

NCSR lists a couple, such as slapping cameras on school bus stop-arms and speed safety cameras.

As far as putting cameras on school bus stop-arms, NCSR cites a stat that indicates an estimated 13 million drivers illegally passed a school bus in 2014.

As for speed safety cameras, there are already several speed cameras on roads and highways in these parts, which flash in big yellow, blinking numbers your speed in miles per hour as you whiz by a traffic sign.

NCSR points to statistics that show speed cameras reduce injury crashes by 20 to 25 percent, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Again, we are not disputing the numbers.

The problem is this: It is debatable how technology can address traffic problems if laws, ordinances and regulations have all the impact of the proverbial slap on the wrist.

We’d wager many Amarillo motorists who pay their $75 traffic camera fine do so because they don’t know any better. They assume there will be a price to pay if they don’t pay the fine.

However, there isn’t. And if technology is going to improve the safety of our streets and roads, then sooner or later, there will need to be a consequence for doing things like running a red light.

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Blow: Color me sold on red-light cameras

Red-light cameras have caught a lot of folks in the act, but they’ve also succeeded in changing behaviors — making people hit the brakes, not the gas
By Steve Blow
March 7, 2015 • The Dallas Morning News

Of all the innovations that have made life safer for us, I wonder which one is the most hated.

I remember lots of grumbling about seat belts in the beginning. And so many motorcyclists hated helmet laws that Texas threw out the mandate.

I’m sure construction workers still gripe about some OSHA protections. I know I’m irked at times by all the safety paraphernalia on my lawnmower.

But I’m going to bet that the least-loved lifesaving innovation is the red-light camera.

Last week, a judge in Tarrant County cleared the way for Arlington voters to decide on a ban of red-light cameras in their city. A legal challenge arose after a petition drive put the matter on the May ballot.

In Chicago, red-light cameras have emerged as a major issue in the runoff next month between Mayor Rahm Emanuel and challenger Jesus “Chuy” Garcia. Garcia has promised he will rid the city of red-light cameras on his first day in office.

Me, I’ve always liked red-light cameras.

Many hate them down to their toenails, however. And while I’ve never understood that level of revulsion, I do get the milder forms of distaste.

There’s something a little Big Brother-ish about an automated system that catches and convicts us of our wrongdoing. It’s so cold and remote — and relentlessly effective.

The things never rest, while cops seldom seem to have the time for traffic enforcement these days.

But I guess it comes down to picking your poison. Would you rather have the irksome cameras keeping watch over us? Or would you rather turn intersections into a free-for-all?

Just last week, I easily stopped when a light ahead of me turned yellow. The car behind me whipped around and shot through the fully red light.

That’s not a common sight these days, but I can remember 10 or 15 years ago when it became rampant. When a signal light turned green for you, it was routine to see a car or two zip through the intersection on red before you could go.

That was the situation that brought red-light cameras into widespread use. And I believe the cameras succeeded in changing behaviors. People began to hit the brakes, not the gas, at yellow lights.

The debate over red-light cameras has gotten bogged down in conflicting studies over how much they increase driver safety. Some studies find that decreases in side crashes are offset by an increase in rear-end crashes.

But those tend to be minor — and they illustrate the extent of our problem. They happen when the driver of the second car has every expectation that both he and the driver ahead will blow through a changing light.

I don’t really care what the studies show. I’m satisfied with what the cameras show — and that’s people plainly, clearly, boldly driving through red lights.

That is so dangerous to my family and to yours that I would think we’d welcome almost any measure to stop it.

Another rap against red-light cameras is that they produce so much revenue for both cities and the camera companies. Again, to me that just illustrates the frequency of the violations.

Now, I’m completely sympathetic to complaints that some red-light cameras have been operated unfairly — with unusually short yellow lights, for example.

Every state should set clear regulations on how cities can use the cameras — giving a little extra yellow light time, if anything, at monitored intersections.

I don’t love the cameras. But I have visited countries where red lights are treated as suggestions and intersections become a game of chicken.

I love that even less.

Follow Steve Blow on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/DMNSteveBlow and on Twitter at @DMNSteveBlow.

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