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Traffic light cameras have become the craze in Southern New Jersey. If you try to run a yellow light, “big brother” is going to get you. On Oct. 30, 2010, The “Courier-Post” ran
some common questions and answers to the red light cameras throughout South Jersey.
Question: How do I know if an intersection is being monitored?
Answer: Any municipality that authorizes the use of a red light camera, including the 22 in the state pilot program, by law must post a sign warning of the enforcement on each street leading to the intersection. Some South Jersey communities in the pilot program expect to add more cameras in the future, but for now, they have been authorized at the following intersections:
Cherry Hill: At Route 70 and Springdale Road
Deptford: At Route 41 and Deptford Center Road
Glassboro: At Route 47 and Dalton Drive
Gloucester Township: On Blackwood-Clementon Road (Route 534) at Cherrywood Drive, at Blenheim/Erial/New Brooklyn Road (Route 706), at Little Gloucester Road (Route 759), and at Millbridge Road
Monroe: On Route 322 at Route 612 and at Route 42/Route 536 Spur
Q: If I see the cameras flash, does that mean I’m going to get a ticket?
A: Not necessarily. Sensors in the road trigger the cameras after determining that a vehicle is traveling fast enough to potentially cross the white stop line when the light turns red. Each camera company operates differently, but usually the devices snap at least two photos showing the back of the vehicle at and in the intersection during a red light. Some companies also record a short digital video. Before any tickets are issued, the camera provider reviews the images and sends suspected violations to the local law enforcement agency. Police officers then determine whether to issue a citation. Tickets are mailed to the registered owner of the license plate, not necessarily the driver, and usually include copies of the photo evidence and a link to view more online. Drivers won’t know if they’ve been caught running a light until they receive a ticket in the mail.
Q: What if someone else is driving my car?
A: According to state statute, you will still be held liable for the fine unless you can show your car was used without your consent. In that case, you would be able to take the driver to court to recover the amount of the fine. That differs from Philadelphia’s program, which uses only still photos and exonerates the vehicle owner if he can prove he wasn’t driving, even if he knowingly let someone else take the wheel. In New Jersey, only rental car owners can get a ticket excused by providing the name and address of the person leasing the car at the time the ticket was issued. The law doesn’t say if the court then sends the violation to that driver.
Q: Will I get a ticket if I’m traveling through the intersection when a yellow light changes to red?
A: You shouldn’t. According to service providers, the cameras focus on vehicles crossing the white stop line painted on the road after the light turns red.
Q: What if I inch forward for a clear view to the left before making a right on red?
A: As long as you first come to a complete stop before the white line, local police say you shouldn’t get fined. Those who stop but overshoot the line, whether heading forward or into a turn, could still face a fine. Authorities will see from the series of pictures where the vehicle was when the light turned red and whether it continued progressing into the intersection just after that. It’s up to them to decide whether to ignore a violation if a vehicle has only nudged past the stop line.
Q: Will there be any forgiveness for special circumstances like emergencies or funeral processions?
A: Yes. If examiners can tell that an emergency vehicle or funeral procession ran the light, the violation would be dismissed, local police chiefs said. However, because the cameras capture only the backs of the vehicles, any other nonvisible circumstances would have to be raised in a court hearing.
Q: What if I believe I didn’t do anything wrong, regardless of what the video shows?
A: You can request a hearing to contest the ticket in municipal court. The ticket will include directions on how to set that up. Steve Carrellas, a state representative for the National Motorists Association, encourages drivers to request the latest available speed survey and yellow light timing for the intersection to use as evidence in court. With that information, he said, drivers can determine whether the yellow signal lasted long enough for them to come to a stop based on state regulations.