Cameras to Catch Speeding on NJ Roads? Illegal Now But Public Could Support It
The idea of automated speed cameras along roadways may get more support from the public, as well as policymakers, if the technology were promoted as a way to reduce racial profiling by law enforcement.
That's according to a new study out of Rutgers University.
But it doesn't appear the findings will move the needle much in New Jersey, one of many states that prohibit speed cameras by law.
Study shows support for speed cameras
The study published in the journal Transportation Research Interdisciplinary Perspectives surveyed nearly 1,500 U.S. adults about their views on racial profiling, policing, and trust in police.
Of the respondents who read about a camera program designed to reduce racial bias and minimize interactions with police, 71% showed support for such a program. Support dipped to 57% among those who read only a short description about how the cameras would work.
Without program descriptions, support for automated traffic cameras was higher among those who agree that racial profiling occurs and among those who disapprove of the practice. Side note: 8% of respondents said they "strongly approve" of racial profiling, and 61% of that group approve of cameras.
Continued support for cameras would be challenging
Noting that traffic stops are the most common interaction between cops and U.S. residents, and that Black populations are both pulled over and ticketed disproportionately by police, the study said that maintaining support for any cameras would be a bigger challenge than winning support.
Camera locations should be chosen based solely on crash statistics, and revenue from programs should be reinvested into traffic safety projects, for example, in order to ensure a successful rollout.
"Implementation details matter immensely," said report co-author Kelcie Ralph, an associate professor at the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers. "But by considering best practices, concerns can be overcome, support can be maintained and traffic safety can be improved."
Red-light camera critic reacts to study
In response to the study, state Sen. Declan O-Scanlon, R-Monmouth, the most vocal critic of New Jersey's now-expired red light camera pilot program, suggested that any cameras placed along New Jersey's roadways would not reduce the frequency of police interactions, and would increase the numbers of tickets for drivers.
"And if you have a racist cop that's intent on pulling someone over, he's going to find a way to do it," O'Scanlon said. "These (cameras) only exist to make money for the corrupt private companies who own them and operate them, and their equally corrupt government co-conspirators."
More than 30 states have official or de facto bans on speed cameras, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.