New Jersey’s red light camera pilot program has officially come to a close as cameras went dark at midnight this past Tuesday after a long battle in Trenton. Supporters of the program cited myriad motorist, pedestrian and cyclist safety benefits, while those opposed insisted it was nothing more than a cash cow for municipalities. Nonetheless, efforts are underway to breathe life back in to the red light camera program. Legislative leadership in Districts 28 and 29 have introduced legislation to reinstate the program with a new requirement that one-half of the revenue be dedicated to improve highway safety:
“The bill provides that not less than one-half of any fine received by a municipality or county for a violation of a traffic control signal monitoring system is to be deposited into a fund established by the municipality or county to be used exclusively by the municipality or county to reduce traffic accidents and deaths, injuries, and property damage resulting from traffic accidents in the municipality or county.”
Half is a good start, but all would be better.
Just next door, Pennsylvania has dedicated total net revenue from the ARLE (Automated Right Light Enforcement) program to improve highway safety. System administrators are permitted to recoup costs for operation and maintenance, but are required to deposit the remaining revenues into a restricted Motor License Fund account used to fund the ARLE Funding Program. These fines deposited in the fund are used by PennDOT for a Transportation Enhancements Grant Program, a competitive statewide grant program. Click here for a detailed list of eligible projects.
Since 2011, 126 safety projects have been funded, and at least 17 projects were clearly bike or pedestrian specific. Philadelphia’s Bicycle Encouragement and Enhancement Project was also made possible through the funding from the revenues from red light camera fines.
Establishing a program similar to Pennsylvania’s would be a boon for bike and pedestrian safety in New Jersey. Pedestrian accidents in New Jersey have reached numbers twice that of the national average, earning it the status of “focus” state by the Federal Highway Administration, and New Jersey’s Bike-Friendly State status has dropped. The silver lining is that the number of municipalities and counties adopting Complete Streets policies is increasing every month. For all three of these reasons, more dollars must be made available for funding needed bike and pedestrian safety infrastructure projects.