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.
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.