Newark is one of 21 New Jersey municipalities ordered yesterday to suspend issuing summonses based on red-light violations recorded at intersections with automated cameras. The state Department of Transportation ordered the suspension of what has been a pilot program because of concerns over the duration of yellow-light signals, which by law must be based on the posted speed near the intersection -- the higher the posted speed, the longer the duration of the yellow signal.
If, for example, the posted speed is 30 mph, then the yellow signal is supposed to last for at three seconds. But traffic officials were also required by the law to ensure that the duration of the yellow signal also reflects the speed at which a large majority of motorists approach the intersection. If at least 85 percent of the traffic at an intersection approaches at 25 mph or less, the signal must last for at least 3 seconds. With each 5 mph increase in speed beyond that, the minimum duration must be increased by a half a second.
Officials in Newark and the other affected towns now have until Aug. 1 first to perform an analysis and determine if the duration of the yellow signal is in accordance with the law.
Newark officials have said they believe the city’s signals are in compliance.
In 2010 Newark became the first city in the state to install the automated cameras, and has since added several more (click here for a complete list ).
The violations are determined based on camera images taken automatically when a motorist enters an intersection where the signal is red. In Newark, traffic officers also monitor the images and use their discretion when deciding whether to issue a ticket, taking into account whether a motorist attempted to stop, for example. Violators are charged $85 but are not assessed points on their driving records.
Officials have said the automated cameras have helped reduce accidents by as much as 73 percent in some places and have freed up police manpower for more serious crimes. But members of the Newark Municipal Council have also heard from constituents who say they have been unfairly ticketed.