Two area townships have contracted with a red-light camera firm that has released a video showing the dangers of running red lights in New Jersey.
Arizona-based American Traffic Solutions Inc., which has red-light cameras in 20 municipalities in the state and about 300 nationwide, posted a video Tuesday on YouTube of 10 accidents and near-misses this year in New Jersey that were a result of red-light violations. The incidents occurred in East Brunswick, Linden, Union, Jersey City, Pohatcong, Monroe Township, Deptford, Linden and Rahway.
No municipalities in Atlantic, Cape May, Cumberland or southern Ocean counties are currently using red-light cameras, but Hamilton Township in Atlantic County and Middle Township in Cape May County have applied to be considered for the next round of state approvals. They both have contracted with American Traffic Solutions to run the program.
Hamilton Township Deputy Mayor Charles Cain said the township plans to use the cameras at certain intersections as a test, and could add more in the future if the program is considered a success.
“There’s nothing worse than having to knock on someone’s door and telling them your loved one died in a car accident,” he said. “You have to do anything you can to avoid that.”
According to American Traffic Solutions, there were 11 people killed in New Jersey accidents related to drivers running a red light in 2009. Each year, hundreds are killed and more than 100,000 people are injured nationwide in collisions related to running red lights, the company says.
“Please stop on red,” a message at the end of the video states. “The life you save may be your own.”
The video is intended “to remind drivers just how dangerous red-light running is,” American Traffic Solutions spokesman Charles Territo said. “Most people will drive by an accident or hear it happened, but they do not see the consequences of red-light running.”
In 2009, the state Department of Transportation started a pilot program for red-light cameras in 25 municipalities. The state will decide if it wants to extend the program in 2014.
The suggested local intersections for the cameras are:
n Routes 9 and 47 in the Rio Grande section of Middle Township
n Route 9 and Stone Harbor Boulevard in the Cape May Court House section of Middle Township
n Wrangleboro Road and Route 322 in Hamilton Township
n Wrangleboro Road and the Atlantic City Expressway entrance in Hamilton Township
The company will receive money from fines paid by violators. The townships will not pay for the program.
Territo said an officer in each local police department will review all infractions and decide whether or not to issue violations to the drivers. Drivers will not receive summonses unless they enter the intersection while the light is red, he said.
Local officials hope the cameras will decrease the number of side-impact crashes, which are the most serious. Studies have said the red-light cameras increase the amount of rear-end accidents because drivers tend to stop short to avoid a violation, but Territo said that should not be blamed on the cameras.
“Rear-end collisions are caused by following too closely or traveling at too high a rate of a speed,” he said. “Traffic signals are designed to give the driver time to stop.”
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