SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – When Mayor Matt Anesh and the council asked the state to take down the red-light cameras in neighboring Piscataway, it ignited a media firestorm and garnered coverage from local television and radio stations, as well as from area newspapers.
But it also galvanized a group of South Plainfield and Piscataway residents who believe the cameras make the roads less safe and are a scheme by towns that want to jack up their ticket revenue.
One resident, who is a member of the National Motorists Association (NMA), applied for a grant to produce a YouTube video called “The Red-Light Camera Ripoff.”
According to the NMA, the video is receiving a “fantastic” reaction. “Within a day of the video’s release, one of the most listened to radio personalities in New Jersey, Jim Gearhardt, plugged [the spot} on his morning program and also posted it to his website,” the NMA said in a recent fundraising email.
The reaction is so good, that the group is looking to produce another 30-second spot that will likely focus on how the program is rigged to increase fines by shortening the length of the yellow light.
The local effort to stop red light cameras started after The Alternative Press of South Plainfield posted a feature article exposing the increase in rear-end and other collisions near the cameras Piscataway erected on Stelton Road along the border of South Plainfield.
The article prompted Anesh and the council, as well as Assemblyman Patrick Diegnan, to ask the state to remove the cameras. To date, the state has refused, saying that the cameras are part of a pilot program and that the spike in accidents in South Plainfield is not typical of the results most towns are seeing.
But the response was not good enough for Anesh, who has asked the town's legal counsel to investigate ways to get the cameras removed.
There may also be a legislative effort to end the camera program. According to Diegnan, the pilot program ends in December 2014, and he plans to oppose efforts to renew it.
The NMA, along with the local residents who applied for the grant, want to help in that effort and have asked people who oppose the cameras to post the video on Facebook and Twitter. They also started a fundraising drive to fund the second video they plan to produce.