NJ City Collects Over $1Million in 3 Months From Red Light Cameras

by Khaleef Crumbley on December 10, 2010

in Economics,Government

Traffic Camera

The Cure for a Deficit

According to a report on NJ.com, the city of Linden, NJ has earned over $800,000 in the last 3 months from their newly installed red light cameras! This has come from mailing out almost 20,000 tickets (the city only has about 40,000 residents).

And get this, this is based on only three red light cameras!! According to the report:

The cameras were approved by the state for three intersections: two of the three intersections are on Routes 1 & 9 and the third intersection is the corner of Route 27 and Stiles Street. Fines are $140 for tickets on Routes 1 & 9, a state-designated “safe corridor.” At the Route 27 intersection, the penalty is $85.

Those are some pretty expensive tickets! I’m glad that I don’t drive through Linden as much as I used to! The total amount paid out in fines by the drivers is much more than the $800k that the city received:

That’s because $11.50 goes to the state for each ticket, and 10 percent of the remaining amount goes to camera company American Traffic Solutions, which reviews video and still photos of red light infractions and sends them to Linden police for review.

So they actually collected well over $1million from the tickets, and made over $800,000 after paying the State and ATS!

Money or Safety – What’s the True Goal?

It makes me wonder if the primary goal of these red light cameras is income or safety. Linden (along with many other cities in the country), has had recent financial trouble, and this new-found income is right on time:

The city raised taxes by almost 14 percent last year due to declining state aid and rising pension and debt service costs.

“I can tell you the revenues have been coming in pretty good,” said Christine Figueiredo, of the Linden treasurer’s office. “It’s very exciting.”

I’m sure that many people will claim that this is purely about safety, and the income is just a nice side-effect. Of course, that’s the same line that the state police tries to sell whenever questioned about their officers hiding on the freeway hoping to catch a speeder!

Here is the expected response from the city:

Sgt. Michael Babulski said that since the cameras have been up at three of the city’s busiest intersections, only one accident has taken place.

“That’s unbelievable for us to have only one accident on the intersections with cameras,” Babulski said. “It seems like it’s drastically changing people’s behavior, and the intersections are becoming safer.”

I’m not sure how many accidents occurred during a typical 3-month period before the cameras were installed; but I do know that having only one accident at two intersections on 1 & 9 and Stiles & 27 is amazing!

I can’t wait to see what the next 3-month period looks like. I’m sure that the amount of tickets will drop since more people know about the cameras and will probably change their behavior accordingly. I guess the city might have to look into buying gold as an investment when that happens!

Well, this demonstrates the simple truth that money is a great motivator (even more than the law or the fear of accidents)!

Reader Questions:

  1. Do you feel as though cities install cameras in order to promote safety, increase revenue, or both?

  2. How do you feel about cops hiding on highways, salivating at the thought of “catching” a speeder?

  3. Wouldn’t the more effective approach (for safety) be to ride alongside the cars in plain sight? People always slow down when they see a cop car!

  4. Since most of the people who drive on city streets and thus, receive tickets, are local, does this equate to a tax on the citizens?

photo by Adrian Short

© 2010, Khaleef Crumbley. All rights reserved.

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