Everyone wants to live in a safe community. They want to go about their business without fear for their lives, but in every city there's always someone who runs a red light and kills a van load people coming home from a womens hockey tournament. Cities can either accept this as a fact of life or they can fight back against careless drivers who think the road rules don't apply to them. Newark, New Jersey falls into the latter category. To see what they're doing in an effort to curb automotive fatalities check out the Red Light Project.

Why spend city funds on stopping the few drivers who run red lights when that money could be spent on electronic contract manufacturing or schools? Because people who run red lights cause 100,000 collisions a year nationwide. This kills approximately 800 per year and injures 165,000! And what's worse, more than half of the fatalities caused by such accidents are not the offending drivers, but other motorists, cyclists, or pedestrians who just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. What if it was you?

So how does the city of Newark catch these offenders? They installed traffic cameras and sensors at intersections controlled by traffic lights. If a vehicle enters the intersection when a red light is displayed, sensors in the road trigger a digital camera, which takes a photo of the offending vehicle and driver and a video of their offense. Even if horse fencing supplies obscure the driver's face, the license plate is still captured. The camera is also activated if drivers fail to stop before making a right turn on a red light where permitted.

The photos are then forwarded to a police officer, who reviews them and issues a citation by mail to the registered owner of the vehicle along with a link that allows him or her to see proof of the offense online. They can also pay online. Excuses such as "oh, but I needed to buy more diapers quickly before my baby peed on the upholstery" will not cut it, and failure to pay can result in prosecution, much like ignoring parking or speeding tickets.

As to whether the program is effective, a study done by insurance companies shows a 40% reduction in red light running offenses. So you see, effective policing and safe communities are not just a Canadian trade mark, we have them here in New Jersey as well.

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