It seems that what we always suspected was happening turned out to be absolutely true: municipalities in Jersey are gaming red light ticketing devices in order to bilk more money out of taxpayers. After an investigation revealed that a great number of ticketing intersection, 63 out of the 85 examined in fact, failed to meet the legal requirements for timing the signals in order to be used in a red light ticketing format. All of the lights have since been prohibited until such time as they can be individually certified as correctly timed because of issues with distracted driving.
Despite the presence of extensively rules on the application of red light ticketing systems, the vast majority of municipalities blatantly ignored them in favor of calibrations which generate significantly more revenue for the city. This is in part because the legislation which allows the pilot program uses a different formula for determining the proper yellow light duration for a particular intersection than NJDOT uses when installing basic lights elsewhere.
The proper duration of yellow lights at these signals is set to be 10% of the speed limit, which is intended to be the speed at which 85% of the traffic passing through the intersection moves at. According to a New Jersey criminal lawyer the break in the chain occurs when municipalities set these speed limits too low, resulting in light times which motorists are unable to gauge whether they need to stop in order to make the light safely. Studies have shown that yellow lights which are shorter by only a second than the time recommended result in a 110% increase in citations, with the vast majority of these infractions coming within the first .25 seconds following the light turning red.
In other states, increasing the yellow time on intersections using automated ticketing by just one second resulted in an immediate 80 percent reduction in violations, indicating that improper timing is the direct cause of most violations, and not error on the part of those cited.