Quick: what do you when you come upon a school bus from the opposite direction - but there is a grass median between you and the bus?
Assemblyman Declan O'Scanlon today warned NJ motorists that Redflex Traffic systems - one of the two now infamous red light camera companies blessedly sent packing with the end of the failed pilot program in December - is trying to bring automated enforcement back to NJ.
"This time they are hiding behind our children's "safety" in the form of cameras on school buses." Said O'Scanlon. "But no one should be fooled - we proved red light cameras were a scam hiding behind false safety claims and school bus cameras are more of the same. Any time you interject a private company, with a pure money making objective, into the enforcement mix it is a bad idea. Here though they are invoking our concern for kids, implying that if you oppose the cameras you don't care about kids' safety. Pretty shrewd PR move. And people who do make a conscious decision to pass stopped school buses with lights flashing should be punished - just like folks who choose to run red lights. But there aren't many of those folks. So, just like red light cameras - automated school bus cameras need to be set up to take advantage of non-hazardous technical violations in order to write enough tickets to pay for themselves. Even then there aren't enough violators so they need to jack up fines to the point of being ridiculous - especially given that the overwhelming number of tickets issued would be to people behaving reasonably and simply making technical violations - like stoping 24' from a bus as opposed to the legally required 25'. Then there's the scenario outlined above where you come upon a school bus from the opposite direction - but there is a grass median between you and the bus. The correct answer is you're supposed to slow down to 10 miles per hour while passing the bus. I bet 99 out of 100 people reading this didn't know that answer. Under the bill you're all candidates for tickets because most of you will slow down and proceed with caution - but maybe only to 11 or 15 mph. The camera company is counting on thousands of us making such technical violations - at $300 to $500 each - PLUS a $300 surcharge!
"Children getting hit by cars illegally passing school buses is an extremely rare occurrence - thank God. We must do all we can of course to do even better - but opening our wallets to automated enforcement companies - who have proven that they will take every opportunity to lie and steal from us - isn't the answer."
"One other critical thing to remember, it is already legal for cameras to be placed on school buses and used to provide video evidence to support a bus driver's contention that an infraction occurred - with a summons issued by local police. The current proposal would give for-profit companies access to our motor vehicle database - and an incentive to generate as many tickets as possible - justified or not."
O'Scanlon is working to educate legislators, editorial boards and the public so we don't again fall for the false claims of automated enforcement firms who have been caught blatantly lying about their products and bribing officials throughout the country. Redflex Traffic Systems is leading the lobbying charge for the bill that would permit the accessing of the state MVC database by the company to facilitate the automated enforcement scheme.
"We must remain vigilant so we don't again permit these corrupt companies unfettered access to our wallets. Using our concern for our children's safety to manipulate us is shameful, but not unexpected. Redflex, the company leading the charge for school bus automated cameras is the very same firm involved in the bribery scandal that, according to former top executives, already touches New Jersey. We don't want to be in bed with these scoundrels ever again. Now is the time to stop them once and for all." Said O'Scanlon.