Do Red Light Cameras Make Our Roads Less Safe?

Jersey City Council is debating whether to remove the red light cameras
Do Red Light Cameras Make Our Roads Less Safe?

As an attorney with offices in Jersey City and Bayonne who handles many car accident cases and cases in which pedestrians have been hit by cars or trucks and been injured, I like to keep up on topics that may affect my clients.  I also go to municipal court for drivers who were charged with driving offenses.  I read an article this week in that was very interesting and relevant for drivers who may get injured at an intersection on Kennedy Boulevard in Jersey City, Avenue A in Bayonne or Palisades Avenue in Jersey City or anywhere else in New Jersey.

red-light-camerasThe Jersey City Council is debating whether to remove the red light cameras that seem to be at many intersections here in Jersey City.  There has been a lot of discussion whether these cameras cause more accidents on Jersey City Streets.  This was not news to me as I have seen motorists slam on the brakes at intersections when a light turns yellow.  Surely, New Jersey Law requires a motorist to slow down, not speed up when it’s yellow, but people are so concerned about the potential $85. fine that they are stopping when their whole lives they would have been going through those yellow lights.

This is said to be causing more rear-end collisions and more people to get hurt.  Our firm uses a private investigator who happens to be a retired Jersey City Police Captain.  He mentioned to me this phenomenon well over a year ago, too. Whenever I have an intersection accident case as a lawyer, I believe it’s my responsibility to have photos taken of these intersections and investigate whether there was a red light camera there.  I usually have our investigator go to the scene of the accident, but sometimes I go there myself.  Attorneys should go to the scene when possible.  You can learn a lot about your client’s accident just by going to the place where the crash occurred.

At any rate, here in Jersey City, some council members are calling for the lights to be removed right away while others may want to see some studies or empirical data.  The situation is further complicated because the City of Jersey City makes a good bit of money from these cameras.  The article that I read indicated that the City collects 2.7 million dollars per year in fines from these red light cameras.  However, they split that revenue 50/50 with the company that manufacturers and maintains them.  It might be painful for City budgets to remove the cameras, but removing them will likely reduce the number of car accidents. There is often a great financial toll that our citizens often bear when injured in an accident.  They may lose wages, may incur substantial medical bills or be unable to do normal household tasks.  This does not include the suffering or disabilities that can occur in car accidents. There are 73 red light cameras at intersections in 24 towns in New Jersey.  Jersey City must have a dozen or more of them.  I know there are at least two right near my office on Kennedy Boulevard in Jersey City   Some towns have already removed their cameras.  The Township of Brick removed theirs. My opinion is that these red light cameras don’t make our roads safer.  I will keep looking into the data though.


John Burke