Green light given to Stop Sign cams

3/21/2008 Update:

For one, does anyone know if these cams have been installed anywhere yet? If so, where?

Regardless, a Hoboken411 reader sent in a link from MSNBC that shows how one city is curtailing the use of these cameras because they become cost-prohibitive once drivers are aware of their locations. (They were red-light cameras, not stop sign)

Red light cameras too good for their own good?

Some cities rethink devices as drivers pay heed, reducing fine revenue

Last week, Dallas officials reviewed the numbers and decided that a quarter of the cameras they had installed to catch motorists running red lights were too effective. So they shut them down.

They are not alone. Faced with data showing that drivers pay attention to cameras at intersections — resulting in fewer ticketable violations and ever-shrinking revenue from fines — municipalities across the country are reconsidering red light cameras, which often work too well.

At the heart of the discussions taking place in city councils and county commissions is tension between the twin benefits that were touted when local governments began installing cameras about a decade and a half ago. Officials were promised that the cameras — which take snapshots of busy intersections, capturing the license plates of any cars that are running the light — would simultaneously save lives and generate millions of dollars in extra fines. Continue reading story at MSNBC…

Here’s a related video too:

See EDITORIAL and previous updates after the jump.

1/17/2008 “Editorial”:

stop-sign-photo-enforcement-hoboken.jpgThis story is pissing me off, the more I think about it.

Despite the “red light cam” plan sputtering last week, it finally passed this week, and now Hoboken apparently has the green light to install the stop sign cameras they prematurely bought. I still don’t see how the stop sign cams fall under the red light cam law, but I’ll save that for later.

Hoboken Safety Director Bill Bergin said that these new cameras are tricked out with “sensors” (they smell money?) that will determine if you stop at a stop sign for THREE SECONDS! One thousand one, one thous-HONNNNNNNNNNK! BEEEEEEEEP! is what’s going to happen at these two intersections where the $75,000 worth of gadgetry is installed.

Apparently, these photos are captured, for an officer to “review them later”, then issue tickets. Translation: “Friend or city employee: No ticket. Everyone else: Ticket”

Police are still pondering where to put them, and whether to tell the public. They might as well get it over with and tell us when they do it, because it’ll be a matter of days before we all figure it out.

My predictions:

  • We’ll quickly find out where these cameras are. And immediately begin avoiding those intersections, and create bottlenecks elsewhere.
  • The honking and traffic backlogs where the cameras are installed (Backlogs – caused by residents “in the know” waiting three seconds; honking – caused by impatient lead foot drivers “not in the know”) will create noise complaints by city residents. One “Quality of Life” problem supposedly solved, another one created.
  • Increased rear-end accidents and associated assaults from road-raging drivers.
  • The city, angered by not bringing in as much revenue as they’d hoped for, waste more money on even more cameras.

This my friends, is “big brother” getting even bigger.

What bugs me more than anything, are these laughable canned comments public officials use. Such as “Anything for the safety of the people, the children especially, I’m 100% for it!” HELLO? Do you mean “Anything for increased theft by revenue for the city?”


Number 2: Take a look at my much more SENSIBLE alternatives of increasing visibility (and safety) at the intersections (please read that article – it’s from November 2006). A friggin camera isn’t going to physically stop the driver, or let him or her (or the pedestrian) see any better. Sure, it may make some people more aware, but the bottom line is that it’s just more dinero for the city coffers.

Lastly, why does every “improvement” come at the expense of residents/visitors? Can’t a simple organic change be sufficient? Nope. Because the city then would have to actually THINK and wonder where they’d put the 1000 (estimated) cars that usually pepper the intersections. Plus, that might require one or more new municipal garages, and less “envelope money” from the real estate developers for more shoddy thin-walled condos.

We’re all screwed. I feel bad for our future generations…

(sorry for the all CAPS comments today. Just a little miffed.)

1/8/2008 Update:

The State Assembly and Senate in Trenton voted yesterday on the plan to allow municipalities (like ours – ha!) to install red-light / stop sign cameras to bust drivers violating the law. While it initially passed the Assembly, it failed to get through the Senate (for now.)

The full AP article is below… Officials against the plan made sense, saying “this is nothing more than the generation of money for municipalities,” while one supporter uttered “These cameras do save lives. They do prevent accidents. They do save dollars.”

First, the police were supposed to “prevent” accidents.. but they can’t be everywhere, and people will still drive drunk and get caught breaking the law, or killing someone. How the hell is a camera (a deterrent just the cops are supposed to be) going to prevent an accident? Do we no longer fear the law enforcement officers?

The only way I can imagine preventing accidents is to install pole-mounted laser cannons. You run the stop sign or red light? We blow you and your car up. ‘Nuff said.

NJ red-light camera plan sputters

An effort to allow municipalities to install cameras to catch drivers disobeying traffic signals sputtered on Monday.

The Assembly voted 49-25 to approve the plan, but a Senate vote on the legislation fell short of the 21 votes needed to pass. It was possible there would be another attempt to get Senate approval late Monday.

Under the plan, violators would get tickets through the mail featuring high-resolution, color digital images of their vehicle driving through an intersection when the light is red.

While such cameras were rare just 10 years ago, they’re now used in more than 300 U.S. communities, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. That includes major cities such as Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington.

Sen. Joseph Coniglio, the bill sponsor, contends the cameras would help improve driving safety.

“These cameras do save lives,” said Coniglio, D-Bergen. “They do prevent accidents. They do save dollars.”

Coniglio noted studies by the institute found that the cameras cut red light violations.

“Give it a chance,” Coniglio said. “It will work.”

But critics contend the cameras, among other things, deny alleged violators the right to confront an accuser in court. They also claim the cameras can lead to innocent drivers being charged and will do nothing to deter unsafe motorists.

“This nothing more than the generation of money for municipalities,” said Sen. Nicholas Scutari, D-Union, who cited statistics that show the cameras can increase rear-end collisions. “This is not a public safety issue.”

The AAA Clubs of New Jersey said a November poll showed 77 percent of 1,000 surveyed motorists supported cameras, but it also expressed concern about money and legal issues.

“We know from experience that this technology can work if it’s improved safety we’re after, not increased revenue,” said David Weinstein, of the AAA Clubs of New Jersey. “Our concern with this specific legislation is that motorists get tagged with points but cannot face their accuser in a court of law.”

The equipment isn’t welcome everywhere.

Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox declared use of red light and speed cameras to be illegal. And the Minnesota Supreme Court struck down red light cameras, ruling it was wrong for police to ticket the car owner, regardless of who was driving.

New Jersey’s proposal would establish a five-year pilot program to test its effectiveness. The state transportation commissioner could let as many municipalities participate in the program as the commissioner deems appropriate.

The state assesses two points against a license for motorists who fail to obey a traffic signal and charges fines ranging from $85 to $140, but those caught running a red light by a camera wouldn’t be assessed license points.

“This is wrong,” said Assemblyman John Rooney, R-Bergen. “It’s Big Brother watching you.”


stop-sign-photo-enforcement-hoboken.jpgIn last weeks City Council meeting, the ordinance to install stop sign & red light photo ticketing systems in Hoboken passed it’s first reading.

While I’m all for making our street safer, and think this system would work in most cities, I do have some concerns about what will happen if this gets installed in Hoboken. Read more to find out why.

For starters, (a site about “the politics of driving”) had mentioned Hoboken’s “testing of the waters” with this new system. They wrote:

“Hoboken’s move is surprising considering New Jersey was one of the first states to revolt against automated ticketing machines. In April 1992, state officials announced their participation in a federally funded photo radar pilot project. After warning signs were posted, the public outcry was so great that the New Jersey Assembly rushed to vote 74 to 1 to ban the program three months later and before a single ticket had even been issued.

“A law enforcement officer or agency shall not use photo radar to enforce the provisions of chapter 4 of Title 39 of the Revised Statutes,” New Jersey Code Section 39:4-103.1 states. “As used in this act, ‘photo radar’ means a device used primarily for highway speed limit enforcement substantially consisting of a radar unit linked to a camera, which automatically produces a photograph of a vehicle traveling at a speed in excess of the legal limit.”

stop-sign-camera-hoboken.jpgAs most red light cameras also measure speed, and red light cameras were not in common use at the time the law was passed, the ban has been interpreted as applying to intersection cameras. The legislature has rejected several attempts to authorize photo ticketing of any kind.”

While they talk about the legislative aspect of this proposed photo-ticketing system, I’m more worried about the “do’s and dont’s”.

With recent stories like the ticket-fixing investigation of NJ municipal judges, to the OPRA struggle Beth Mason is having with the city to obtain simple public information, can you imagine what the possibilities are with this system?

I haven’t read the “instruction manual” yet for this system, but my questions would be:

  • How does this work? Is the system fully automated to the point NO human intervention would be able to circumvent issuance of tickets?
  • If not, how would we be able to prevent “privileged enforcement”?
  • Would the videos of offenders be available to the public via OPRA? How would that work?
  • What about those “photo blockers” such as special license plate frames and canned sprays?
  • Will the public be made aware of what the exact technical stipulations are for a violation? Do you need to just stop 100% completely? For how long? Will there be traffic issues if cars don’t “roll” or “creep”?

What are your opinions?

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153 Comments on "Green light given to Stop Sign cams"

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I’m all for stopping at stop signs, just curious about the 3 Second Rule. That was a myth they taught us in MD drivers ed, the law there only required a “complete cessation of movement.”

The red light camera in MD was administered by a private vendor in every jurisdiction, with police officers being present to oversee the operation. Seems like this could be another Captains or Director job in the making, Hoboken style. Virginia removed red light cameras after the law’s 10 year trial period was over.

Personally, I have a bigger problem with speed cameras than anything ata red light or stop sign. When a police officer uses an electronic speed measuring device, it must be tested frequently through internal and external means, which calibration and service logs on file with the court, should a defendant wish to see them. What would be the check here to ensure these sensors are function ing properly?

Not so funny, meow is it?


Brick, NJ just became the first municipality in New Jersey to allow a vendor to install red light cameras.


PS I park in a garage so don’t have to deal w/street parking or ticketing. Liberating.


[quote comment=”74494″]Why anybody who lives in this town would own a car is beyond me.
Not owning a car is the most LIBERATING feeling I’ve ever had.
No gas, no insurance,no accidents, no tickets or towing….fantastic.
I have not owned a car for over 11 years…I do have a license…[/quote]

Actually, it’s rather liberating to get the f out of town whenever I feel like it w/o having to be at the mercy of public transportation schedules, friends with wheels, arranging to rent a car, etc…


[quote comment=”74494″]Why anybody who lives in this town would own a car is beyond me.
Not owning a car is the most LIBERATING feeling I’ve ever had.
No gas, no insurance,no accidents, no tickets or towing….fantastic.
I have not owned a car for over 11 years…I do have a license…[/quote]

not all of us work in the city and take the PATH to work