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By ARep | November 26th, 2012 - 5:05pm
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O’SCANLON: RED LIGHT CAMERA REPORT PROVES PROGRAM IS A FAILURE - OVERALL INCREASES IN ACCIDENTS AND ACCIDENT COSTS EXPERIENCED. CALLS FOR IMMEDIATE PROGRAM TERMINATION.

Poor quality of analysis of data within the report leads to completely unfounded positive spin

Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon today responded to the “Report on Red-Light Traffic Control Signal Monitoring Systems Second Annual Report” released by the Department of Transportation. The report embodies the Department’s analysis of collected data from the monitoring system and makes recommendations for the future of the controversial program.

"Don't be fooled by the thinly veiled positive spin in this report's narrative" said O'Scanlon "The data tells the story - and the story is that this program has been a dismal failure from the start, and the data now proves that not only are red light cameras not reducing crashes, but the presence of the equipment might actually be leading to INCREASES in crashes - and the severity and costs of those crashes. To be specific, the net cost in accidents at these intersections increased by more than $1 million. That number doesn't include the tens of millions of dollars in bogus fines being doled out by these automatic taxing machines. At half the intersections surveyed, accidents actually increased."

“Examining the data and reading this report is like a suspense thriller - you think you know where it’s going, and then the author pulls the rug out from under you!” said O’Scanlon, R-Monmouth. “The data just doesn’t add up to the Department’s final conclusion to extend the program and continue collecting data. Any rational person reading this document would conclude that the program has failed and it’s time to pack it in.”

The report analyzes two groupings of data: 24 months of data for two participating intersections in Newark and 12 months of data for 24 participating locations statewide. The people preparing the report show stunning bias in their focus on the two intersections in Newark. “The problem is that data from two intersections is statistically insignificant,” O’Scanlon said. “You can easily have 50 percent - or even 100 percent (or more) swings in accidents at intersections from year to year, cameras or no cameras. And even the data from the two intersections is inconsistent - showing a net increase in costs from year 1 to year 2 of almost 50 percent! The larger pool of data - for the 24 locations statewide - shows an increase in crashes - 582 up from 577 to be specific. Even worse, the severity and costs of those accidents has increased.”

“The department hangs its hat on 24 months of data at two intersections,” O’Scanlon explains. “Suggesting that data from two intersections is at all significant is sloppy and unprofessional at best" said O'Scanlon "and purposefully misleading at worst."

Cost to public increased at red-light-camera intersections intersection by $1.17 million. This is due to a greater number of reported injury crashes and the severity of those injuries. “So safety has decreased and the cost to the public has increased. Who are these cameras benefitting?” O’Scanlon questioned.

Additionally, O'Scanlon has seen, and thoroughly debunked, the fallback argument of red light camera proponents - that reductions in number of tickets at these intersections is somehow an indicator of an improvement in safety.

"Since we see increases in accidents at these intersections at the same time we see decreases in tickets issued, it is painfully obvious that any behavior we might be changing isn't that which was leading to accidents prior to this equipment being installed," said O'Scanlon. "What we are doing is making people paranoid - causing them to slam on the brakes at the slightest hint a light might change, or deciding to fail to make even an absolutely safe right turn in red. Those behaviors naturally would lead to both fewer tickets, and MORE ACCIDENTS! It is astounding to me that the folks who prepared this report fell for this ‘reduced ticket’ argument employed by the camera companies when their own data thoroughly blows that theory out of the water."

O'Scanlon also attacked the attempt in the report to gloss over the proven fact that yellow light times were and are set too short.

“I can't believe that anyone involved in this program would want to bring this embarrassing issue up again" said O'Scanlon. "We have definitively and exhaustively proven that yellow light times were and are set too short at these intersections. That horse has left the barn AND is lying dead on the side of the road. No matter how much anyone beats it, it ain't getting up again! The continued obsession with the issue simply serves to further erode the credibility of the people running this program."

“The data that IS significant and is also handily glossed over by the Department is that of the 24 participating intersections,” O’Scanlon stated. “Here we see that, statewide, the net number of accidents at 24 participating intersections have actually increased. INCREASED!! How can they recommend the continuation of this program when the exact opposite of its purported purpose is happening around the state? These intersections have become MORE dangerous and that fact is written in black in white in the DOT’s own report. I mean, this is about safety, right?”

“For whatever reason, someone within the Department is working hard to ensure the viability of a failing program that has received nothing but justified criticism throughout New Jersey,” O’Scanlon concluded. “The program was implemented incorrectly. Accidents rates have increased, the cost to the public has increased, and nothing significant has changed. I sincerely hope the Commissioner will read this report and do the right thing – end this program. After all, that’s what this is supposed to be about….doing the right thing.”

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