Gov. Murphy has been working on getting five states and Puerto Rico to share crime gun information. Meanwhile, a pair of New Jersey legislators want to hide information about another deadly weapon, the motor vehicle. That's both ironic and misguided.
State Sens. Nicholas Scutari (D., Union) and Nicholas Sacco (D., Bergen) have recently sponsored a bill that would ban the state from giving other states the names and addresses of drivers who are caught on camera blowing off red lights or speeding. The argument for the ban: New Jersey shouldn't help other states track down and fine New Jersey residents when they are not subject to traffic cameras in their home state.
In 2014, New Jersey abandoned the cameras after a five-year pilot following an uproar from residents and complaints that the cameras weren't accurate. That's Jersey's business. Other states still use the cameras and find they have slowed down traffic, which traffic enforcement officials say is a key to preventing fatalities on the road.
"States should not shield dangerous, reckless drivers from getting tickets for putting motorists, pedestrians and cyclists at risk in another state," says Russ Rader, senior vice president of communications for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
He's right. In July, his organization reported that the crash rates in cities that abandoned red-light cameras shot up 30 percent. Fatalities went up 16 percent.
According to the latest federal statistics, more than 37,000 people died in car accidents in 2016. Speed was a factor in about 10,000 deaths and running red lights was a factor in more than 800 deaths. Of course, there are other factors in crashes, including road conditions, distracted drivers on cellphones, drunk or drowsy drivers, and failure to use seat belts. They all add up to a lot of damage. In New Jersey, there were 301,000 fatal and nonfatal crashes in 2016. In Pennsylvania — a state with an area five times the size of New Jersey — there were 121,000.
Locally, some of those crashes have occurred on Roosevelt Boulevard, among Philadelphia's most dangerous roads. Rep. John Taylor (R., Philadelphia) has authored a bill to let Philadelphia use speed cameras in a pilot program. There's a good reason. So far this year, 11 people have died on the Boulevard, locally known as the "killevard." As recently as Monday, a girl riding a bike was injured when she was struck by a hit-and-run driver.
That road is utilized by New Jersey drivers. If Taylor's bill makes it through the legislature, should Jersey drivers be able to turn the boulevard into a drag strip when the cops aren't looking?
Gov. Murphy has enlisted other states to crack down on the illegal gun trade, which is a laudable use of interstate cooperation. But he shouldn't let his own state export death and destruction by giving Jersey drivers a free pass from speed and red-light cameras.