New Jersey Department of Transportation Report Shows Traffic Safety Cameras at Dangerous Intersections Reduce Crashes by 86 Percent

For Immediate Release
March 28, 2014

New Jersey Department of Transportation Report Shows Traffic Safety Cameras at Dangerous Intersections Reduce Crashes by 86 Percent

Legislature should move to make pilot program permanent and expand to all New Jersey cities

Newark, NJ – Right angle traffic crashes are down by as much as 86 percent and rear-end crashes are down by as much as 58 percent at New Jersey intersections where traffic safety cameras are in place, according to a New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) report released today. Citations have also been reduced by 83 percent, indicating a change in driver behavior at New Jersey’s most dangerous intersections.

The NJDOT’s third annual report on the traffic safety camera pilot program examines traffic safety cameras working at the 83 intersections in 25 New Jersey municipalities in the 2012 calendar year. NJDOT has capped the number of municipalities with access to the life-saving technology at 25, despite dozens of communities that have applied for permission to use the technology on their roads.

The report, which breaks down the data at the 83 intersections according to the number of years cameras have been in operation, shows the longer cameras have been in place, the greater the safety benefit:

- Cameras active for three years: 72% reduction in total crashes, 86% reduction in right-angle crashes and a 58% reduction in rear-end crashes;
– Cameras active for two years: 27% reduction in total crashes, 60% reduction in right-angle crashes and a 7% reduction in rear-end crashes; and
– Cameras active for one year: 5% reduction in total crashes, 15% reduction in right-angle crashes and a 3% reduction in rear-end crashes.

Safety advocates are encouraging the legislature to make New Jersey’s traffic safety camera program permanent before the 5-year pilot program expires in December 2014. Advocates are also calling on legislators to make all New Jersey cities eligible to use camera programs including the dozens of municipalities which have applied for NJDOT approval to use this proven technology to reduce crashes on their roadways.

“Red light running is irresponsible and dangerous and we know firsthand how it can rip families apart,” said Paul and Sue Oberhauser, National Co-Chairs of the Traffic Safety Coalition, whose daughter, Sarah was killed by a red light runner in 2002. “This report again shows safety cameras reduce crashes in New Jersey and we encourage the legislature to continue the program and open it up for all communities wishing to make their roads safer.”

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About the Traffic Safety Coalition:
The Traffic Safety Coalition is a not-for-profit grassroots organization comprised of concerned citizens, traffic safety experts, law enforcement, public officials, victim’s advocates, health care professionals, and industry leaders who are committed to working together to make our roads safer for drivers, passengers, cyclists and pedestrians. We work with our partners throughout the country to promote technology and education that save lives and keep our roads safe.

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.

For more information about traffic safety issues, visit http://www.trafficsafetycoalition.com or connect with us on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/trafficsafetycoalition and Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/TrafficSafetyCn

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Traffic Safety Coalition Encourages Safe and Responsible Driving This Thanksgiving Weekend

Traffic Safety Coalition Encourages Safe and Responsible Driving This Thanksgiving Weekend

Coalition creates holiday pledge to remind drivers of traffic safety

CHICAGO – Thanksgiving kicks off the holiday season but also marks the beginning of a busy and deadly time on U.S. roadways. This year AAA estimates more than 43.4 million Americans will be traveling 50 miles or more over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.  Of those, 38.9 million will be traveling by car. 

As the Thanksgiving holiday weekend approaches, the Traffic Safety Coalition and its partners are encouraging drivers across the country to travel safely and responsibly.  http://www.trafficsafetycoalition.com/content/holiday_pledge/

To keep our roads safe for those traveling this weekend, the Traffic Safety Coalition is encouraging drivers to take its holiday pledge to commit to safe driving behavior this season. The pledge reads:

During this holiday season and every day throughout the year,

  • I pledge to buckle up when driving and as a passenger.
  • I pledge to obey traffic signals and always stop on red.
  • I pledge to obey the speed limit.
  • I pledge to never text and drive.
  • I pledge to never drink and drive.

“We are encouraging everyone using our roadways this holiday season to practice safe and responsible driving.  Especially during busy travel weekends, it is crucial to always stop on red, obey the speed limit and drive sober,” said Traffic Safety Coalition Co-Chair Paul Oberhauser, whose daughter Sarah was tragically killed in 2002 when a driver ran a red light and crashed into her car.

Thanksgiving Weekend by the Numbers

During the Thanksgiving weekend and beyond, drivers should remember the importance of observing fundamental traffic safety laws.  Statistics demonstrate the serious consequences of ignoring these laws:

  • Red-light running kills more than 600 people and injures another 100,000 each year (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety)
  • Speeding was a contributing factor in 31 percent of all fatal crashes and 9,994 people were killed in speeding-related crashes in 2011 (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration)
  • More than 170 people were killed over Thanksgiving weekend in drunk driving crashes in 2010 (Mothers Against Drunk Driving)
  • More than 150 people will survive Thanksgiving weekend traffic accidents because they wore seat belts, while more than 112 people would have lived if they had done the same (National Safety Council)

The TSC works with more than 700 partners nationwide, including local chapters of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), Safe Kids USA and other local community organizations across the country.

If you are interested in learning more about the TSC or participating in its efforts, visit www.TrafficSafetyCoalition.com.

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About the Traffic Safety Coalition:

The Traffic Safety Coalition is a not-for-profit organization comprised of concerned citizens, traffic safety experts, law enforcement, public officials, victim’s advocates, health care professionals and industry leaders who are committed to working together to make our roads safer for drivers, passengers, and pedestrians.  We work with our partners throughout the country to promote technology and education that save lives and keep our roads safe.

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.  

For more information about traffic safety issues, visit www.trafficsafetycoalition.com or connect with us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/trafficsafetycoalition and Twitter: www.twitter.com/TrafficSafetyCn

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LETTER: City needs more red-light cameras

When I was approaching Broad Street while traveling west on Medical Center Parkway, the traffic signal turned amber, and I knew that I had ample time to stop before it turned red, so I did.

The car next to me didn’t, and the light turned red just about the time that the car crossed the white line, and the driver clearly ran the light.

I was thinking about needing more red-light cameras when I heard the engine rev up next to me, and a little tan car went barreling through the intersection even though the light clearly had turned red 50 yards before the car reached the intersection.

I was sure I was about to witness a t-bone crash, but fortunately the drivers stopped on Broad saw (him) coming and waited.

Thus the article in the DNJ that covered the council approving the continuing of the (red-light camera) program caught my attention and approval.

The shocker was that, even after hearing a glowing report by Police Chief Chrisman, about how well the cameras were working in reducing crashes, Council Eddie Smotherman voted against the extension, saying, “I have to believe when a person runs a red light there’s a reason for doing it,” noting he’d like to know if it was because the driver was impaired or late for class.

“Clearly he person is distracted for some reason,” Smotherman said. “My biggest concern with the six intersections is they don’t answer the question. I’d like to see it carried a step further.”

I hope this is a misquote because, translated, Councilman Smotherman says that the cameras fall short because, while (they) can read the license plates of offenders, they can’t read their minds.

I disagree with that logic (or lack thereof) because even though the cameras don’t record the reason for running a red light, the information that they do provide allows the offender to explain their “impairment” or “distraction” to kindly old Judge Ewing Sellers in Traffic Court.

I am sure his honor has heard enough (reasons) to be able to supply Councilman Smotherman with, at least, a “top ten” list of those that work.

My daily observations of red-light runners tend to make me support the need for more cameras.

Richard J. Baines

Parkview Terrace

Murfreesboro

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Editorial: Turn the red-light camera debate back to safety

November 26, 2013 6:00 am  •  By the Editorial Board

Terry Branstad, the governor of Iowa, is on to something.

The Republican governor to the north is proposing that the state step back from its love affair with speed- and red-light cameras.

Call it a break, not a breakup.

The governor has asked his transportation director to develop rules that make sure the cameras are being used primarily as a safety tool, not merely a revenue source for cash-starved municipalities.

Here in St. Louis, we know that scam well.

In north St. Louis County, in particular, municipalities that wouldn’t exist without revenue from speeders put up the cameras along major thoroughfares, including Interstate 70, to catch unsuspecting drivers and hit them with $100 fines.

And numerous cities in the region, from St. Louis to St. Peters to Ellisville to Arnold, have installed the red-light cameras, which often end up fining the owner of a car even when he wasn’t the one driving his or her vehicle.

As in Iowa, those with a conservative political bent have raised constitutional concerns with the cameras in the Show-Me State, and recently, they won a big victory.

This month, the Missouri Court of Appeals for the Eastern District ruled that Ellisville’s red-light camera law was in violation of state statute because it punished the owner of the vehicle, and not necessarily the driver. Shortly before that decision, a St. Peters judge tossed a red-light camera ticket because the fines in that city don’t come with penalty points against a driver’s record, as other moving violations in state law do.

There are those in both Iowa and Missouri who would like to ban the cameras entirely.

That’s not going to happen, nor should it.

There are cases in which the cameras — particularly the red-light cameras — do provide a safety purpose.

Yes, companies like American Traffic Solutions make a boatload of money off the technology. They wouldn’t be spending a fortune on high-priced attorneys, public relations professionals and lobbyists if the cameras weren’t cash cows. Here in St. Louis, you can’t toss a stone without hitting a former employee of former U.S. Rep. Richard Gephardt who hasn’t fed at that trough.

But the bottom line remains this: Most people getting tickets broke the law.

You shouldn’t run red lights. You shouldn’t speed. The prevalence of cameras does serve as a deterrent.

If safety truly is the goal, however, the approach being suggested by Mr. Branstad (who, of course, is running for re-election) is a reasonable one.

It’s not much different from the approach taken by St. Charles County Executive Steve Ehlmann, a Republican, and a group of African-American pastors from north St. Louis County. During the last session of the Missouri Legislature, they pushed for a bill that passed limiting the amount of revenue municipalities can collect from such cameras.

Of course, there were already higher limits in place and they were ignored. And the cities have sued to block the law.

Safety first?

No, this is and always has been primarily about money.

With the appeals court ruling in Missouri, the issue of red-light and speed-cameras is ripe for some more debate in the Missouri Legislature. The cameras are not going to go away, but putting reasonable and enforceable limits in place that require safety to be the primary objective is an approach that makes sense.

The proposed new rules in Iowa, for instance, require other “engineering and enforcement” solutions to be tried first. And municipalities would have to justify the renewal of the cameras each year.

If safety truly is the primary concern, tightening up the rules governing the use of such cameras seems a reasonable compromise.

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Bill would green-light traffic cameras in Michigan

June 4, 2013

The Times-Herald

LANSING — Drivers might think twice about speeding or running red lights if they knew they could be caught — and Michigan communities could be safer as a result.

That’s the hypothesis behind a bill moving through the state legislature that would allow communities to install surveillance cameras at intersections and use images from them to crack down on dangerous driving infractions.

But civil liberties groups and some police organizations strongly oppose the legislation, calling it an invasion of privacy and a poor substitute for typical police work.

House Bill 4763 has support from a bipartisan group of lawmakers. It was debated for the first time Tuesday before the House transportation committee. There has not been a vote.

State law currently prohibits so-called “red light cameras” but proponents of the House bill said the technology could improve public safety.

“There is concern about excessive and aggressive driving in our communities,” said Rep. Thomas F. Stallworth III, a Detroit Democrat and one of the bill’s co-sponsors. “For me, this is an opportunity to begin sending a clear message that speeding is not tolerated and it provides an opportunity for law enforcement to have additional tools in their toolkit and deploy their resources more effectively.”

Monroe County Deputy Sheriff Dave LaMontaine, of the Police Officers Association of Michigan, argued the cameras can’t make the same judgment call an officer on the ground might make.

“A citizen has a right to face their accuser and it changes the very nature of the police-citizen relationship when that accuser is a high-tech camera on a pole,” said LaMontaine, whose organization represents 22,000 officers statewide.

The bill would set statewide standards for the cameras, including how the images from the devices could be used in court.

All images would need to be reviewed by a police officer and any violations prosecuted could result in a civil infraction, punishable by a fine of no more than $130.

Revenue from the fines would be split evenly between the state and the local government involved. The community would have to bear the cost of installing, operating and maintaining the equipment and could use the fine revenue to defray those expenses.

The owner of the vehicle would be the target of the fine, not the person driving it at the time of the violation.

If the legislation were to become law, it’s unclear whether Lansing is a community that would consider using the technology. Interim Police Chief Mike Yankowski said he hasn’t had a chance to review the legislation, which was introduced two weeks ago.

Rep. Tom Cochran, D-Mason and a member of the House transportation committee, said he “is totally in support” of the bill.

“This is all about public safety, plain and simple for me,” said Cochran, a former Lansing fire chief who said he’s responded to countless accidents at intersections. “This is about people changing their behavior hopefully so we don’t have incidents where people are injured or killed or worse.”

Opponents of the bill suggested lengthening the duration of yellow lights could be a better alternative — an idea that has the attention of Rep. Wayne Schmidt, R-Traverse City, the primary sponsor of the bill and the chairman of the House committee.

“We’re going to continue to work on these bills,” Schmidt said Tuesday. “This is just the first blush.”

Red light cameras continue to be a hot topic in many legislatures nationwide. According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, 24 states have red light cameras operating in at least one location. Nine states prohibit their use.

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Traffic Safety Coalition Reaches 500 Partners

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

June 3, 2013

Traffic Safety Coalition Reaches 500 Partners

CHICAGO – The Traffic Safety Coalition (TSC) announced today its 500th partner organization has joined the coalition.  The TSC, a national not-for-profit organization committed to making roads safer, works with partners throughout the country to improve safety at local roads and intersections.

“We’re excited to be the 500th partner of the Traffic Safety Coalition and we’re pleased to have the opportunity to collaborate with a network of safety-minded organizations in California and throughout the country,” said Andy Hanshaw, Executive Director of the San Diego County Bicycle Coalition.

The Traffic Safety Coalition was founded in Illinois in 2009 to promote technology and education that save lives and make roads safer, including the continued and expanded use of traffic safety cameras. The TSC has since grown over the past three years and now has chapters in 27 states focusing on a wide range of traffic safety issues including red light running, speeding, school bus safety, bike, pedestrian and motorcycle safety, texting while driving and work zone safety.

The TSC’s broad network of partners includes traffic safety experts, law enforcement, public officials, victims’ advocates, health care professionals, bike and pedestrian advocates, industry leaders and concerned citizens who are committed  to making roads and intersections safer. The coalition and partner organizations have teamed up to work on a variety of legislative initiatives including:

  • Advocating for the continued and expanded use of traffic safety cameras.
  • Supporting safe passing laws for bicyclists.
  • Common sense bus safety measures.
  • Walkable communities and safe streets legislation.
  • Bills which ban the dangerous practice of texting while driving.

“The Traffic Safety Coalition has reached a 500 partner milestone that illustrates the strong support among a wide and growing range of organizations to improve safety on local roadways. We are so appreciative of the support from organizations and traffic safety leaders across the country,” said Traffic Safety Coalition Co-Chair Paul Oberhauser, whose daughter Sarah was tragically killed in 2002 when a driver ran a red light and crashed into her car. “No family should have to experience the loss of a loved one in a traffic crash. That is why we support the use of traffic safety cameras to reduce red light running and speeding and change dangerous driver behavior. Safety cameras and common sense safety measures save lives. “

The TSC’s network of 500 partners nationwide includes Every Body Walk!, the Alliance for Biking and Walking, local chapters of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), Safe Kids USA, Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD), law enforcement, and other local community organizations across the country.

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

To see a full list of TSC partners and learn more about the TSC, visit www.trafficsafetycoalition.com or connect with us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/trafficsafetycoalition and Twitter: www.twitter.com/TrafficSafetyCn

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Mayor Frank Jackson sticks behind red light cameras

June 2, 2013

News Radio WTAM 

Three Republican state legislators are pushing for a ban on red light and speed cameras. They claim the cameras are basically revenue generating machines, and they have privacy concerns about them as well.

However, Mayor Frank Jackson says the number of red light cameras is being increased in Cleveland. City Council has approved a contract to add cameras to an additional two dozen intersections.

Jackson contends motorists tend to drive safer around intersection where the cameras are, and claims the devices have reduced the number of accidents.

He says people who have complained about red light and speed cameras are the ones who have broken the law and have gotten caught.

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