A controversy over red light cameras installed at intersections in towns across New Jersey has been further inflamed after the borough of Roselle Park released a video showing a horrific crash.
The video, released by traffic safety firm American Traffic Solutions and posted on its website, shows a driver running a red light at an intersection, hitting an oncoming car, careening into a divider and being thrown airborne, turning 360 degrees before eventually coming to rest.
“There are a lot a people who don’t think that running a red light is a problem,” spokesman Charles Territo of American Traffic Solutions told ABC News. “Rarely do people see the actual crash occurring, and the violence and the drama that accompanies it is something that everyone should see.”
Installed in 2009, the cameras are supposed to be a safety measure designed to deter drivers from speeding through yellow and red lights. Instead they have been a source of controversy, yielding millions of dollars in fines for municipalities and saddling drivers with tickets that many view as difficult to challenge and even unconstitutional.
Motorists complain they are not being given enough time to get through intersections, and many believe the program is essentially a money grab. One New Jersey woman was given a $140 ticket for making it through an intersection 1/5 of a second too late.
But Roselle Park Police Chief Paul Morrison defends the program. “It’s unfortunate that the public views it as nothing more than an revenue instrument. The reason I had it put in place is because of serious crashes at the intersection,” he told ABC News.
Statistics from American Traffic Solutions show that since the town implemented its red light camera program in 2011, red-light running violations have decreased 47 percent. Additionally, an analysis of the Roselle Park program found that 94 percent of vehicles issued a violation have not received a second, according to the ATS website.
“It’s an absolute success,” said Morrison. ”Motorists who actually receive a summons are made aware and very conscious of the fact that that intersection is monitored 24/7, and if you go through the red light you will receive a summons. Motorists are much more cautious.”
The state of New Jersey recently suspended the use of red light cameras at 63 of 85 state-wide locations out of concern the cameras had not been properly tested.
Police Chief Morrison ultimately stressed the potentially life-saving nature of the technology, and the benefit of the cameras to public safety. “It’s no different than if a police officer was sitting at the intersection.”
“If it saves just one life, it’s served its purpose,” he said.