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Township Rakes in Red-Light Camera Revenue

Red-light cameras have been a hot topic of discussion at recent Township Council meetings.

Gloucester Township has collected more than $2.5 million in fines through tickets issued from 10 red-light cameras positioned at four intersections along Blackwood Clementon Road from July 2010 through December 2011, with local revenue of more than $1.3 million.

The township is one of about two dozen municipalities in New Jersey approved to utilize the red-light cameras under a pilot program since late 2008.

The decision to take part in the program was made here in early 2010, at least in part to increase traffic safety along Blackwood Clementon Road, according to officials.

But there was another reason—one that many might not consider when thinking about the cameras—Mayor David Mayer said this week.

"We had to try to slow traffic down. And we had to do that for a number of reasons," Mayer said. "One is safety. The other is economic development. Traffic just flowed too quickly through there. As you can see, that corridor is not thriving."

The theory behind that line of thinking is that alert motorists, concerned about getting a ticket for blowing a red light, will drive at lower speeds and take notice of the businesses around them.

"The traffic-light cameras certainly, I think, have got the attention of motorists," Mayer said.

The cameras are operational at Blackwood Clementon Road's intersections with Cherrywood Drive, Little Gloucester Road, Erial Road and Millbridge Road.

The numbers

Between July 2010 and December 2011, a total of 38,766 traffic tickets were issued to motorists as a result of driving actions captured by the cameras and deemed illegal by police, according to data obtained by Gloucester Township Patch via an Open Public Records Act request.

From those 38,766 tickets, a total of 29,761 guilty pleas or verdicts had been reached as of Jan. 30, when Gloucester Township Municipal Court Administrator Patty Carroll responded to the OPRA request.

The township keeps $73.50 of every $85 fine attached to guilty pleas or verdicts reached as a result of red-light camera tickets, according to Business Administrator Tom Cardis. The remaining $11.50 is sent to the state.

Under its agreement with Arizona-based American Traffic Solutions Inc., which installed its cameras and related equipment for the township in 2010, the township pays $4,750 per camera per month, for an annual total of $570,000 for the 10 cameras.

After passing along the state's $342,251.50 share of the total $2,529,685 collected, the township still had $2,187,433.50 in revenue left over from the 29,761 tickets issued under the red-light camera program's first 17-plus months.

For July 2010 through December 2011, the township paid American Traffic Solutions $855,000 for its cameras, based on the $47,500 per month fee.

The township's final take from tickets issued through the end of 2011 stood at $1,332,433.50 as of Jan. 30, based on the information the municipal court administrator provided Patch.

Increasing traffic safety?

It does appear motorists have adjusted their driving habits as a result of the red-light cameras.

In the four-month period between July 24, 2010, when tickets were first issued from the camera system, and Nov. 29, 2010, a total of 14,844 tickets (an average of about 3,710 per month) were issued, while just 23,922 tickets were issued over the next 13 months (an average of about 1,840 per month).

As Mayer noted, the township has put up more signs warning motorists of the red-light cameras than is required under state laws governing the technology's use.

And while it would be hard for officials to deny that the potential for revenue was a consideration in green-lighting the red-light cameras, it does appear early in the five-year pilot program that the cameras have made Blackwood Clementon Road safer as officials had hoped.

The last data Patch received from the Police Department regarding crashes at the four camera-monitored intersections covered the periods of July 24-Nov. 29, 2009, and July 24-Nov. 29, 2010.

From 2009 to 2010, there was a roughly 20 percent reduction in crashes, from 55 in 2009 to 44 in 2010.

Police Chief W. Harry Earle has told residents at recent Township Council meetings that analysis is being conducted on crashes at the four camera-monitored intersections.

Not all residents are convinced the red-light cameras are making Blackwood Clementon Road safer.

Darren Gladden, who ran for Township Council as an independent candidate last year and routinely speaks during Council's bimonthly meetings, is among them.

"It's also causing accidents," Gladden said during the Jan. 23 Council meeting. "Because everybody's scared to get an $85 ticket, they're slamming on their brakes and the people behind them are smacking them."

Gladden, who admitted he's been on the receiving end of tickets from red-light cameras in South Jersey on three occasions, is also concerned flashes from the cameras at night startle unsuspecting drivers.

"Some people panic. And if you're in the middle of the road panicking after you see a flash go off, after you just paid two of these tickets, c'mon!" he said.

Tickets generated by red-light cameras are issued to vehicles' registered owners. The tickets do not carry any points against driver's licenses.

ymbdfa March 15, 2012 at 02:04 PM
Paul does that mean you’re too lazy to actually find out the truth or are you afraid to find out the truth because like at the council meeting Monday night when you made your comment Councilman Mercado and the police chief told you and all of us the truth about your erratic driving and you were forced to put your tail between your legs and waddle back to your seat. See intentionally refusing to find out the truth or avoiding it for political reasons shows all you want to do is argue not make things better. Try understanding what your complaining about and maybe you won’t have any more youtube moments of embarrassment like you did in the council meeting Monday night, And trust us if you think that won't be a youtube moment you’re a bit jaded.
N/A March 15, 2012 at 02:22 PM
Paul it’s a right and a privilege to own a dog and a gun and if you beat your dog or go randomly shooting people and you get caught you will go to jail and lose those rights and privileges. It’s your right and privilege to get married if you beat your wife or husband and they press charges you could go to jail get fined and even get divorced. It's your right to drive and if you break the law like you have, it’s my right to have safe roads to drive or walk on and thank god our police force keeps us safe from drivers like you who do not believe they should be forced to follow the laws of our state. I've have stated before and will again if you don't follow the law I do not believe red light cameras go far enough in making sure you drive safely. They should carry points just like as if a police officer pulled you over. It is the owner of the vehicles responsibility to make sure a responsible driver uses their car, if the camera cannot identify who was driving the vehicle the owner should receive the points as they allowed an irresponsible driver to use their car. If you give your keys to someone and they go out drinking and drive drunk and kill someone the owner can be charged as well as the actual driver with a DWI and possibly manslaughter as well they can be sued. The red light tickets should be no different. People like Gladden make the best argument that type of enforcement is needed.
Paul J. DiBartolo March 15, 2012 at 02:36 PM
At it again, huh, Yamby? What caused you to crawl out of the wall this time? I've asked before if you would please post an interpretation along with your comments so we can all possibly understand what you are saying.
Paul J. DiBartolo March 15, 2012 at 02:43 PM
Sorry, N/A, you can't have it both ways... "...it’s a right and a privilege to own a dog and a gun..." "It’s your right and privilege to get married..." It's either a right or a privilege; now, which is it? Webster would probably go a long way in helping you understand the difference. BTW, if you knew anything about the Law of the Land, some people call it the Constitution, you'd know that it is our right to bear arms. A right should never be confused with a privilege that the state extends to me as if it wasn't mine already. The fact that the State is encroaching on our rights is part of a much bigger problem.
Michael Clinton April 19, 2012 at 03:49 AM
Same here. I used to get off 42 at Blk-clem Road and do a lot of shopping on that strip. I will never use that exit again and they will never get another dime from me and I've warned everyone in our development to sat off that road.

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