Posted on Jan 18, 2013

A bipartisan bill being proposed in the New Jersey State Legislature may lessen the risk of getting a ticket for running a red light.  Said bill, co-sponsored by Assemblyman Declan O'Scanlon (R - Monmouth), would increase the length of the amber light by one second and give a one second grace period after the light has turned red.

There are currently 83 intersections in 25 towns participating in what is a pilot program, which will expire in 2014.  This program made a lot of news last summer when the state Department of Education suspended it due to concerns that the yellow lights might not be timed long enough to allow drivers to get through the intersection.  It was later restored after testing showed that the lights were timed correctly.

Assemblyman O'Scanlon, who has been a critic of the program, says it is flawed because traffic engineers studying intersections that are part of the program have found that many of the lights were not calibrated to the times recommended in national studies.  To make sure they are, he says, we would be adding a second to most of our yellow lights (which is what his bill proposes to do).

Not everyone shares his view, though.  Many traffic experts are concerned that changing the timing could endanger drivers by encouraging them to use amber lights as an extension of the green lights.  This would then result in more drivers running through the red light.

There will continue to be controversy over this issue as the pilot program continues, with some seeing them as a way for towns to bring in more revenue, while others say it has the potential to save lives.

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