The bill targets any speed-control devices that are capable of automatically producing a recorded image of an alleged violation.

New Jersey may soon prohibit other states from issuing traffic citations to its residents for alleged violations that were caught on speed or red-light cameras.

Lawmakers in the Garden State have introduced a bill that would stop New Jersey's Motor Vehicles Commission from providing license-plate numbers or other identifying information to another state or an interstate information network for the purpose of doling out a fine.

"I've been getting loads of complaints from people," state senator Nick Sacco told The Star-Ledger, the state's largest newspaper. "They drive to Virginia to visit relatives. They go through Maryland. They come back home and start receiving tickets in the mail. And they swear that they're not speeding; that they're keeping up with the traffic."

Introduced in the state assembly last month and in the state senate last week, the bill targets any speed-control devices that utilize cameras, vehicle sensors and are capable of automatically producing a recorded image of an alleged violation. It has a measure of bipartisan support: Republican Declan O'Scanlon sponsored the bill in the assembly, while Sacco and another Democrat sponsored the bill in the senate.

One of the main criticism of the speed and red-light cameras is they penalize the registered owner of the vehicle, not necessarily the driver of the vehicle. When weeks pass by before owners even know they have been been implicated by a camera, that's a problem.
"How are you going to defend yourself against that," asks Steve Carrellas, the head of the New Jersey chapter of the National Motorists Association, which has applauded the state's proposed legislation. "In the old-fashioned way, a police officer looks at your license and you at least have a chance to have some explanation or you have the opportunity to talk and the officer can use the appropriate discretion."



Traffic Cameras Becoming A Widespread Headache

Speed cameras have been so unreliable in Baltimore that city officials decided to scrap the system.

The bill comes at a time of increased scrutiny for automated traffic-control devices. Last month, the Chicago Tribune revealed there were sudden and unexplained surges in the number of traffic tickets doled out by red-light cameras in the city. Violations would spike for a number of days then "abruptly dropped back to their previous levels."

Speed cameras have been so unreliable in Baltimore that city officials decided to scrap the system and spend $450,000 to replace it last year, and the same system is now facing criticism in nearby Howard County, where the Baltimore Sun reports that the speed cameras show more violations for cars speeding than there were actual cars on the road.

New Jersey isn't the first state to seek such legislation. In fact, it's proposed law is based on one in South Dakota that's been signed into law. The bill passed through South Dakota's state legislature earlier this year, in part because lawmakers were angered by speed traps set across the state line shared with Iowa and said it did not provide "due process with the law."

Does Automated Enforcement Improve Safety?

Speed and red-light cameras are supposed to make driving safer by changing driving behavior over time, but increasingly, critics say the safety benefits are dubious and the cameras are nothing more than revenue generators for states and municipalities. Rather than improve traffic safety, a 2008 study conducted by University of South Florida researchers found they "significantly" increase crashes.

Jonathan Adkins, executive director of the Governors Highway Safety Association, believes the cameras add a net benefit for safety, but concedes the ongoing stream of problems are breeding mistrust. He's concerned about New Jersey's pending legislation.

"It sends a dangerous message that if you go into another state, you can't get into trouble." – Jonathan Adkins

"It sends a dangerous message that if you go into another state, you can't get into trouble, so that does raise concerns," he said. "It's a sign of the times, though. A lot of these automated enforcement programs haven't been run in model ways."

He cites the examples of Chicago, Baltimore and other notable problems in Washington D.C. as specific examples of problematic deployments of traffic-control cameras. More broadly, he said the idea that speed or red-light cameras serve primarily as revenue generators for local municipalities has contributed to a backlash. At least 31 local municipalities have put traffic-camera measures on their ballots since 1991, and voters opposed their use 30 times.

Position of cameras should be apparent to motorists, Adkins argues. He says they should be well-marked with signs along the roadway, advertised on social media and discussed openly within communities. The goal, he says, should be to change driver behavior, not implement a "gotcha" scheme that leads to municipalities becoming dependent on new revenues.

"It's important for communities to be open about it," he said. "When you publicize it, the behavior really does change over time, and then drivers don't just change their behavior at one intersection, they start to carry it to the next intersection. It changes the way we view intersections."

Court Red Light Cameras

"New Jersey Is At A Crossroads"

"I think we're seeing the start of the downfall of automated enforcement." – Steve Carrellas

Two potential complications for the New Jersey bill: It is unclear how the state's Motor Vehicles Commission would prohibit information from being passed along an interstate network for automated enforcement, but still allow for the flow of driver information in the case of a real-life police officer pulling over a New Jersey driver in another state. A spokesperson for the agency said it could not comment on the pending legislation.

A few states, including California and Arizona, may treat certain traffic charges generated from cameras as criminal offenses. In the case of the South Dakota law, US News and World Reports raises the possibility they may be exempt from the law.

Within New Jersey, traffic-enforcement cameras are, of course, still allowed. The Garden State is at the tail end of a multi-year pilot program in which its evaluating the effectiveness of the devices in about two dozen communities. The program is set to end in December. It would need to be renewed by the state legislature.

"New Jersey is at a crossroads," Carrellas said. "This pilot program is coming to an end, and it's had lots and lots of problems. ... I think we're seeing the start of the downfall of automated enforcement. We're seeing an uptick now, and we expect to this to catch on in other states."


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  • 52 Comments
      Edsel
      • 4 Months Ago

      Yes, this is the right move. I've been ticketed for making an illegal right on red in a trailer truck by an intersection camera in another state a thousand mile away from where I live.  They sent me a $250.00 ticket which was payable within thirty days. After 30 days they would forward the violation to my resident state. My resident state RMV has a reciprocal agreement wherein I could lose my license if the ticket was unpaid after 30 days. The paperwork said I could appeal the ticket in person or submit notarized documentation to them that I was innocent. The problem? I have never owned a trailer truck and I have never traveled through the state where the violation took place. How do you prove you are innocent?

      It turns out that they had only captured part of the license plate number. Their solution was to look up and violate every person in every reciprocal state that had a similar partial license plate number. I speculate that dozens of innocent people received violation tickets in dozens of states and everyone of us had to prove our innocence. 

      Ten years before the above debacle I received a notice from my RMV that I could not renew my license because of an outstanding arrest warrant in another state, a state I, nor my car, has never visited. It was another dragnet by law enforcement. Having to prove innocence is not the way our democracy is suppose to work.

      Using red light/speed cameras is the blunderbuss approach to law enforcement. It is wrong.

        Pat
        • 4 Months Ago
        @Edsel

        Good point 

        Perhaps a sensible approach to NJ would be only cancel the reciprocal agreement that have such practices

        mylexicon
        • 4 Months Ago
        @Edsel

        Another classic is when the right turn lane is under construction, but the red light camera dunces "forget" to recalibrate the camera to prevent ticketing drivers who turn right from the right-most lane (normally a center lane).

        Giant pain in the ass.

      SloopJohnB
      • 4 Months Ago
      Civics 101 would have taught you that it has to reach the Supreme Court first.  Also, I disagree with the argument that the message it sends is that if you go into another state you can't get into trouble…reverse it and the message is that if you go into another state you can get into trouble!  One could argue that the whole business of automated speed cameras on out-of-state drivers interferes with interstate commerce….it's one thing to get hauled in front of a magistrate in a kangaroo court in Georgia…quite another to get several automated speed tickets just for traveling in Georgia through a speed trap town.
        Larry Litmanen
        • 4 Months Ago
        @SloopJohnB

        But cameras are set at a certain speed limit, unless someone maliciously lowered the limit on the camera you are going above what the local law says.


        This is my issue with people who hate camera, drive BELOW the local speed limit and you will not be tic kited (again, assuming some human is not doing something to the camera which is not legal and should be prosecuted, but it is a separate issue.)

          b.rn
          • 4 Months Ago
          @Larry Litmanen

          Larry,  the issue is that it should be the speeder that gets the ticket.  In the case of speed cameras, it's the owner that gets the ticket.

          If I lease a car, should the lessor receive my traffic violations?  Of course not.  Yet, I'm held responsible for the actions of someone whom drives my car?

          Michaele
          • 4 Months Ago
          @Larry Litmanen

          Larry, every time I see a post from you it's a pile of excrement. Why is that?

          Pj Taintz
          • 4 Months Ago
          @Larry Litmanen

          the problem with that is in a lot of places the speed limits are not reflective of the conditions, meaning you will find 30 zones mixed in with 50 zones, where the cops will sit there to begin with

          add to that the fact that red light cameras have been known to switch the yellow delay to snag more money, and long story short no, get rid of these things, there should not be any automated ticketing systems period. Unless someone complains, or a cop sees you breaking the law, there is no reason for a ticket

          Larry Litmanen
          • 4 Months Ago
          @Larry Litmanen

          PJ, but i see these people all the time speeding like crazy putting everyone in danger. Do you really expect someone to call 911 and copy the plates of some dude who is switching lanes and speeding like crazy.

          Aaron Painter
          • 1 Month Ago
          @Larry Litmanen

          When they came up with "Speed Limits" they had basically model T's to what we drive now, do you know slow motorists cause more accidents a year than fast motorists. Speed Cameras are unconstitutional.Read the Fifth Amendment in the Bill of Rights, and the accused rights of due process. You might learn something Larry. People these days he's as slow as he drives his car. 

      Justin
      • 4 Months Ago

      Finally, a reason to move to New Jersey :-P

      Narom
      • 4 Months Ago

      New Jersey looks a lot like England.

      Spiny Norman
      • 4 Months Ago

      "It sends a dangerous message that if you go into another state, you can't get into trouble, so that does raise concerns,"

      No, it just means that there has to be a HUMAN witness to a violation.

        JohnC
        • 4 Months Ago
        @Spiny Norman

        Yes. If they have no proof as to who was driving a car, how can a judge find anyone guilty? It seems to me that if one states that he or she was not driving the car at the time, the judge could not demand to know who was driving as then he would be abusing his or her power to insist that the accused incriminate another person. If that person is a family member, the accussed should be able to take the 5th in order to avoid incriminating a family member.

        Greg
        • 4 Months Ago
        @Spiny Norman

        Not quite. If there is a robbery, and evidence is caught on camera, that's sufficient for prosecution. Furthermore, human witnesses have been repeatedly shown to be rather unreliable because our brains fill in missing data, which we can't distinguish from real memories, or we forget details. Rather, what *should* be asked for is a human to review the video evidence before a citation can be issued, i.e., no fully automated 'read a license plate, send a ticket' system. The second part is that evidence used to issue the citation must be provided to the accused so that if the citation is in error, e.g., the turn lane is under construction, the evidence will show it.

        .

        The issue of not knowing who is driving the vehicle isn't really a legal problem, either. Parking tickets are issued without knowledge of who parked the car, but the owner is legally responsible for what is done with his property. (This is the same principle as how you can be responsible for someone being injured on your property.) Parking tickets are generally not the same type of violation as moving violations, and it is perfectly reasonable to treat camera-based tickets the same as parking tickets.

        .

        None of this addresses whether it is good to use camera systems for traffic enforcement. Rather, it's just that the so-called legal problems many assume to exist with cameras aren't actually problems. If you are against camera enforcement, then it is better to build your case on other arguments with stronger foundations. For example, issuing citations to everyone who might have been at fault (because of incomplete license plate data) violates the principle of presumed innocence / conviction based on evidence and violates the principle of punishing the innocent along with the guilty. These are real problems, but they aren't the camera's fault.

          xat95
          • 4 Months Ago
          @Greg

          I think you may want to reword that. B/c if you are arguing they are NOT the same, then why should they be treated the same way???? A really poor argument if that is what you really meant.

            • Parking tickets are generally not the same type of violation as moving violations, and it is perfectly reasonable to treat camera-based tickets the same as parking tickets. 

        Chris Barbieri
        • 4 Months Ago
        @Spiny Norman

        Exactly, I live in and drive through such states where there are no such cameras that I know of, and yet see people getting people pulled over all of the time for speeding. Driving down I-95 and I-26 from Florida to North Carolina last week looked like a light show. If there wasn't someone pulled over by a highway patrolman then chances are there was one hiding in the median waiting to snag someone going 15+ mph or so over. That said, his argument that one can speed anywhere else and not get in trouble is a crock. I made sure not to go more than 10 over the whole way back as a result. 

      Nick
      • 4 Months Ago

      Red light cameras are unconstitutional. They should be outlawed. Good for New Jersey.

        SCOTTM
        • 4 Months Ago *Edited*
        @Nick

        Absolutely! Unfortunately, our state sponsored indoctrination programs (aka parochial school system) conveniently avoids having to teach our young people about their freedoms and rights entrusted and "protected" by the Constitution and Bill of Rights. Dumbing down Americans one class at a time allows for these injustices to go unabated. The future of America and everything it stood for is bleak.   

      Chris Barbieri
      • 4 Months Ago

      Good!! It's nice to see politicians, on both sides, coming together and taking a stand against something I agree with. I hope more states follow suit and ultimately do away with these speed cameras. They're noting more than a money making scam. If you want to crack down on speeders then fine. Do it the old fashioned way and put cops out there. I'd  rather get pulled over and have to deal with one of them than come home from a road trip only to find hundreds of dollars worth of fines in my mailbox for simply traveling with the flow of traffic and having to pass lines of slowpokes, like our friend Larry Litmanen, going right at or slightly below the speed limit to avoid either poking along while riding riding in a bumper to bumper jam going 10-15 under the limit or missing my turn or exit. 

      RobG
      • 4 Months Ago

      These automated systems are all about REVENUE, not safety.  Anybody who says different is likely benefitting from that system, or an idiot.

      SCOTTM
      • 4 Months Ago

      Anything to put down the man and his totalitarian offensive is good with me. Thanks for posting Autoblog. I hope others writer their congressperson or at least show up at city hall meetings to fight this injustice. It is incriminating innocent people. Right in my own backyard (MI), they have red-light cameras at intersections where the amber/yellow light is intentionally shortened by a few seconds in the hopes of nabbing more "violators". This has caused many accidents (rear-end collisions), but as soon as enough people complain, they move the scam to another intersection on the other side of town. It is all for revenue generation and control/intimidation. The insurance companies love it, too. They lobby for this stuff so they have the excuse to raise rates due to "infractions".

      mitytitywhitey
      • 4 Months Ago

      Not sure how effective this can be,  but kudos for several states making bipartisan efforts to end the automated enforcement nonsense. 

      In Virginia and Maryland,  there are bipartisan efforts to screw anyone operating a motor vehicle in their state.   Combating this is necessary and good.  

        greg
        • 4 Months Ago
        @mitytitywhitey

        I can Personally relate I got a speed camera ticket and luckily  Washington DC allows you to fight it online and  I WON! Not sure the rate of success on this but I was happy and do support this keep the police states of Maryland and Virginia out of my wallet. 

      Pat
      • 4 Months Ago

      so here is what is going to happen ... every NJ resident will drive like a dick when he's out of state because he can't get caught!  Making them essentially, above the law ... at least when it comes to automated systems!

        marv.shocker
        • 4 Months Ago
        @Pat

        We don't have very many speed or red-light cameras where I live, but that doesn't make me drive like a dick…there are still cops on patrol.

      Larry Litmanen
      • 4 Months Ago

      I have to disagree with this, i think cameras serve a purpose. Just like you do not do something criminal if there's a cop next to you, you will not engage in speeding if you know or think you maybe filmed.


      Secondly how constitutional is this law, if you commit a crime in another state can your home state allow you not to be punished. Again in the eyes of the law there's no difference between speeding and say murder. Can you kill someone in one state and avoid being punished for that?



      I doubt this law will pass in Supreme Court.

        J
        • 4 Months Ago
        @Larry Litmanen

        Yep, cameras sure do serve a purpose.

        Repeat after me, ladies and gentlemen:

        $ A F E T Y...

        Once again:

        $ A F E T Y....

        One more time, with feeling:

        $ A F E T Y....


        bc3091
        • 4 Months Ago
        @Larry Litmanen

        If the laws governing speed cameras can get through the SCOTUS, this can. The Constitution guarantees the right to face your accuser, but you can't exactly face a speed or red light camera in a court of law like you could if a cop pulled you over.

        Michaele
        • 4 Months Ago
        @Larry Litmanen

        You have terminal analitis.

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