Red light cameras may not be the boon to stopping accidents that they once were, according to results published on the pilot program in a NJ Department of Transportation (NJDOT) report.
The grandfather of red light cameras in Woodbridge, located at the intersection of Route 1 and Avenel Street in Avenel, actually had an increase in rear-ended collisions in the first full year of operation the NJDOT report references.
Drivers involved in accidents at that intersection had a total of $321,700 more damage than they did before the lights were installed.
The figures include the cost of damage to vehicles, the cost of injuries to people in crashes, the severity of injuries, and other measures to assess the impact of the accidents.
In Avenel, there was one pre-camera crash in the report that showed some possible physical injury and property damage to vehicles. The cost of that single crash was $44,900.
After the installation of the red light camera at Avenel Street, the number of rear-end collisions jumped from one to eight at that intersection. The dollar amount put on physical injuries and vehicle costs was assessed at $359,000.
The number of rear end crashes with property damage alone, and no physical harm to people in vehicles, went up by one, from eight accidents before the Avenel Street camera was installed to nine afterwards. The property damage cost for that type of collision without injuries jumped from $59,200 to $66,600, according to the NJDOT report.
The net result at the Route 1 and Avenel Street intersection showed an increase of $321,700 in the costs of injuries and property damage from rear end collisions.
The report showed that there were no right-angle crashes, either before or after the red light camera installation, at the Avenel Street intersection. The NJDOT report also broke down the type of accidents from those in which a fatality occurred to those in which there were no injuries, but just property damage.
The Avenel Street intersection had no deaths or serious injuries in the study, either before the cameras were installed or afterward.
The NJDOT report, which examined camera data from locations in Newark, New Brunswick, Linden, Brick, Deptford, Glassboro, Gloucester, and Stratford, said that the severity of injuries from right-angle crashes was down 15 percent overall.
"Right-angle crashes tend to cause more severe injuries, especially to drivers," said NJDOT spokesman Joe Dee.
While right-angle crashes were down in towns studied in the pilot program, the number of rear-end collisions was up 20 percent overall, and the cost among the red light camera intersections studied was up $1.172 million.
The report cautioned that "the data are still too limited to draw any definitive conclusions about the pilot program at this time."
A study done by American Traffic Solutions (ATS), which monitor's the township's red light cameras, said in March, 2012, said that the Avenel Street intersection had seen a 40 percent reduction in the running of red lights.
Woodbridge has three other red light camera intersections: at Route 1 and Green Street; Route 1 and Gill Lane; and the Walmart entrance at Route 184 and West Pond Road. Since those intersections are newer, they were not included in the NJDOT report.