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Red light cameras likely to stay, but with possible changes in NJ

When it comes to traffic violations in New Jersey and throughout the country, red light cameras tend to ignite heavy debate among the public. Proponents of red light cameras passionately argue that the devices create more careful drivers and, therefore, safer roads.

But despite the seemingly good intentions of the cameras that are used to catch drivers allegedly running a red light, critics of the tools suspect that they are primarily tools for making money for their city. Also, there are debates regarding the accuracy and fairness of red light cameras.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie was an earlier supporter of the controversial law enforcement cameras. Uproar among his constituents, however, has changed his tune somewhat. There is no apparent plan to rid the state of red light cameras, but there is reportedly proposed legislation that would alter important details of the program:

  • Tickets would cost less, $20.
  • Drivers would be given more of a chance to avoid a ticket due to the duration of yellow lights being lengthened.
  • Drivers would be granted a grace period of half of a second once a light has turned red during which they wouldn't be ticketed for running the light.

Timing of yellow lights has prompted complaints among the New Jersey public in the past. There is a certain statutory equation involving light time and speed of traffic that must be met in order for related traffic tickets to be legal. As a result of this legal debate, the red light program was temporarily suspended this past summer and class action lawsuits were filed.

Even if the proposed changes are put into law, it is likely that red light cameras will continue to be challenged in this state and others. At the heart of many people's argument is that they should be able to face their accuser when they are essentially charged with a crime. A camera doesn't have the judgment that a human does and, some argue, puts people at risk of false accusations.

Source: thenewspaper.com, "New Jersey Governor Reverses Course on Red Light Cameras," Oct. 2, 2012

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