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New Jersey: Camera Company Uses Deceptive Crash Footage
Red light camera company promotional video uses misleading incident to sell its product.

Linden crash
Just two days before Christmas, American Traffic Solutions (ATS) released a video showcasing ten accidents that happened under the watchful eye of a red light camera. Dozens of media outlets seized on the dramatic scenes, some taking it as an opportunity to editorialize in favor of photo enforcement.

"Each year more than 100,000 people are injured and hundreds are killed in red light running related collisions," ATS wrote in the introduction to its video. "The following videos are just a few examples of red light running collisions and near misses from New Jersey intersections in 2011."

The 90-second video shows low-quality footage of incidents from Deptford Township, East Brunswick, Jersey City, Linden, Pohatcong, Monroe Township, Rahway and Union Township (link to ATS video). Each clip was meant to demonstrate the extreme danger involved in running red lights with the implied message that such incidents would happen less frequently with red light cameras installed -- even though all of the incidents happened at intersections where automated ticketing machines were operational.

The scene from a January 4, 2011 accident in Linden at 1:00 into the video stands out from the rest. It shows a white 1997 Honda CRV hurtling through an intersection into a gray 2010 Volvo S80 that attempted to make a left-hand turn. The incident happened at 12:18pm at West St. Georges Avenue and North Stiles Street, and we are supposed to assume from the video's context that the Honda was running a red light, as clearly happened in eight of the other clips.

Close inspection of the video footage shows, however, that the light was not red and the Honda driver had the right-of-way. The signal remained yellow as the Honda made its way more than halfway through the intersection. Linden's city clerk confirmed that no red light running citation was issued to either driver. The Linden Police Department's accident report cleared the Honda driver of wrongdoing.

"After reviewing the video taken of accident 11000393 this officer has come to the conclusion that vehicle number one [the gray Volvo] was at fault, the video of the accident was placed as evidence and submitted to the records bureau," Officer Robert Bunk wrote.

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