Motorists who hate the state's red light camera program have tried to make that case that fears of getting a ticket can cause indecisive drivers to get into accidents the cameras are designed to alleviate.
In Woodbridge, though, the r at Route 1 and Avenel Street might prove to be even more dangerous to pedestrians. That's because the pedestrian crossing signals at the busy highway have all been mysteriously covered over with what looks like black plastic garbage bags.
Callers to Patch have said that the pedestrian signals have been covered for "some time," leaving adults and children who want to cross Route 1 without any electronic guidance for getting across the highly traveled roadway.
The red camera light at Avenel Street, throughout the township, is part of a pilot program run by the NJ Department of Transportation (NJDOT). It was also the only red light camera intersection in Woodbridge to be by the state, because of questions on whether the timing of the yellow traffic signal had been properly certified.
NJDOT also has oversight of the pedestrian signals that are timed to coincide with the traffic signals, with or without traffic cameras in tow.
As of Wednesday, NJDOT officials didn't know who was responsible for covering the pedestrian crossing signals, or why it was done.
"It would have had to have been approved by DOT," said spokesman Tim Greeley. "Whether or not it would've been done by one of our crews, or by the local police department with DOT approval, I don't want to speculate."
Greeley couldn't give a reason why the pedestrian crossing signals would have been covered.
Of the other three red light camera sites in Woodbridge, only the Gill Lane intersection has a pedestrian crossing signal, which was not covered.
Woodbridge police authorities could not be reached for comment.
But many people, in and out of the township, said they believed the pedestrian traffic signals had been covered because such signals can be seen by motorists, and give drivers a head's up on when the light is about to turn. Particularly helpful to both motorists and the walking public are pedestrian signals which give a countdown as to when the signal is going to change.
John J. White of Colonia thinks those type of signals are too helpful to drivers, in that they interfere with the generation of red light camera tickets.
"It's a set up," said White, who was earlier this year after allegedly sailing through a red light at Route 1 and Gill Lane in Iselin.
"I don't think it has anything to do with the pedestrians. They don't get any revenue from them. It's all about how much money they can produce from the red light," he said.
Many critics of the red light camera system say that it has much less to do with reducing accidents than it does about creating income for the municipalities and the state.
The Avenel Street red light camera of which Woodbridge retained $632,837. The flow of money was temporarily disrupted when the state shut the camera off until the yellow signal light could be properly calibrated. The cameras and the fines started again on July 27.
Not everyone thought the pedestrian signal covering was necessarily sinister. Steve Carrellas, director of Government and Public Affairs for the New Jersey chapter of the National Motorists Association, thought the sheathing could be because the signals were malfunctioning.
"Maybe the signals are giving wrong info and have to be covered, or it's a way to say they're shut down because there's a problem. That would be in the best interest in ped and motorist safety," he said.
Carrellas' group is strongly opposed to red light cameras. He thought that public interest in the Avenel Street red camera lights was encouraging.
"I'm glad people are noticing. They should go to their town council and get them to pull out of the program, or call their state senators and assemblymen," Carrellas said. "There are bills in both houses of the legislature to stop red light cameras in New Jersey."
(If you want more information on how to fight a red light ticket, or you want to join together to help get the program eliminated, contact the National Motorists Association at this site.)