At their meeting last Monday, Princeton Council passed a resolution calling on the State of New Jersey to allow local towns to install automated traffic control devices, including speed cameras and red light enforcement cameras. New Jersey is currently one of just three states that prohibit the use of speed cameras, which means that towns like Princeton are not able to use them to enforce local speed limits. Speeding remains a pervasive problem in Princeton. Police have responded to regular complaints from residents about speeding by installing radar speed display signs, which show drivers how fast they are traveling, but which do not issue tickets. These speed display signs are usually effective for a number of weeks, but do not act as a lasting deterrent against speeding.
The resolution passed by Princeton Council notes that the use of automated cameras is endorsed and recommended by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Federal Highway Adminstration, which issued guidance saying that cameras are:
“an important element in speed management and can be a very effective countermeasure to prevent speeding-related crashes”
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, speeding was involved in 27% of fatal crashes, causing over 10,000 deaths in the USA in 2016. Speeding drivers also create a stressful environment for other drivers, and are a particular hazard for vulnerable road users such as people who are walking or on bikes. New Jersey is one of the most dangerous states for pedestrians, with a pedestrian share of road injuries that is almost double the national average. Princeton Council have now resolved to support a change in state law to allow the use of automated cameras to help cut down on speeding. They will also ‘urge’ local NJ State Assembly representatives to draft legislation to make this happen.
The resolution endorsing the use of speed cameras was passed following some discussion with a vote of 5-1. The lone dissenting Council member was David Cohen, who expressed several concerns, including the possibility that ‘foreign adversaries’ could ‘hack’ speed cameras, causing them to issue tickets to drivers who had not been speeding.
The full discussion can be viewed in this video from the Council Meeting: