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My Letter To Matt Doherty About Red Light Cameras In Belmar

You might or might not be aware that Belmar is planning to install red light cameras on Route 35. I found a number of studies that show that accidents and injuries actually increase when these cameras are installed. I brought this up at last night’s council meeting and Matt asked me to send him the information. Thank you, Matt.

Here is the letter I sent to Matt Doherty and cced to Mayor Ken Pringle (who was not present for that part of the meeting), Council members Claire Deicke and Richard Wright, Boro Administrator Robin Kirk and Police Chief Tom Palmisano. Councilman Brian Magovern’s email was not available to me so I asked Matt to forward this letter to him.

Hi Matt.

Thanks for your interest in the possibility that these cameras might actually be detrimental to public safety. Here is the link to those studies I referred to last night:

I strongly urge you and all involved in this to pause and take the time to consider if this proposal is really a good thing to do. These studies can not simply be shrugged off. You must look at them. If the possibility exists at all that more accidents and more injuries will occur as a result of these cameras, no amount of additional revenue will make it worth it.  

Having commuted long distances for most of my adult life, I have seen the way drivers behave when they know law enforcement is watching them. Once people know that there is a camera watching them, many will slam on the brakes when the light turns yellow, even if they are already upon the intersection. You know this is going to happen. I know it’s going to happen and if these cameras are installed I will be requesting copies of accident reports whenever there is an accident at any of these intersections.

If we are currently having too many accidents at any of these sites, that might be an indication that the yellow should be lengthened to allow more time to clear the intersection. Another positive step would be to install “smart lights” to reduce the incentive to run red lights. I called the county recently to ask about changing the lights on the county portion of Main Street to flashing yellow on Main and red on the Avenues from midnight to 6:00 AM during the off season. You may recall that I brought this idea up at the council meeting about these cameras. Turns out that I’m very old-fashioned. I was told that many towns in the county are installing smart lights that sense where cars are and change based on who needs to use the intersection. These are being installed on state roads too.

Instead of having cameras watching us in order to ticket us and get our money, lets have sensors watching us to help us get where we’re going safely and without needless delays.

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