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New Jersey Governor Imposes Red Light Camera Freeze
No more red light cameras can be installed in New Jersey by order of Governor Chris Christie.

Chris Christie
Chris Christie, New Jersey's tough-talking Republican governor, has gone from red light camera proponent to active photo ticketing opponent in a matter of months. On Thursday, the state Department of Transportation (NJDOT) announced there will be no new red light cameras installed in the Garden State with the notice specifically mentioning it was the political decision of the "Christie Administration." Less than nine months ago, Christie had backed red light cameras.

"You [think you] should be able to go through a red light if there's not a cop there and it's a freebie?" Christie said last July on New Jersey 101.5 radio's "Ask the Governor" show. "Towns should have the right to make these decisions. As long as their red light camera program comports with the requirements of the statute, go ahead and do it."

A few months after that appearance, Christie had conversations with Assemblyman Declan J. O'Scanlon Jr. (R-Monmouth), a photo ticketing opponent, and the governor began to retreat from his support. Last week, he decided to torpedo the 37 cities and towns that have petitioned the state to approve their application to install red light cameras. NJDOT is running a pilot project that will report on the safety impact of photo ticketing at each of the 76 approved red light camera intersections. The project ends in December 2014.

"In order for information gathered from cameras to be statistically significant, a minimum of two years of data is necessary," the department explained in a statement. "Since the study could end as early as 20 months from now, adding new cameras at this point will not be useful in assisting in the determination of their overall worth."

Early results suggest that determination will be negative. Data from the first year of camera use show a spike in the number of injury-causing and severe accidents (view report). The results ran counter to the promise that photo ticketing reduces "more dangerous" angle collisions.

Running a camera program without the state's explicit approval can prove to be an expensive mistake. Earlier this year, American Traffic Solutions entered into a $4.2 million settlement for operating red light cameras before the legislature began the pilot project.

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