Holding Hands and Demonstrating 

Automated enforcement shouldn’t be bad, and yet, it is!

Speaking of nonsense, friend-of-the-site Chris D. alerted me to a terribly stupid argument New York and New Jersey are having over automated enforcement of traffic laws.

A little background: At present, over 1/3 of American states ban the use of red light and speed cameras. There are many good reasons for this, including issues with privacy and due process, as well as perverse incentives for local governments (such as shortening yellow light times to be able to issue more red light violations and collect more fines). Like my own state of Massachusetts1, New Jersey bans automated enforcement. They’re now considering extending that idea with a proposed bill that would prevent the state government from sharing information with other states that do use automated enforcement.

That brings us back to the aforementioned nonsense. In retaliation for New Jersey potentially refusing to share driver information, New York state legislators are proposing a not-particularly-serious $50 fee for NJ drivers to enter New York. New Jersey legislators are countering with an even-less-serious proposal for a $100 fee for New Yorkers to drive into New Jersey. It’s all quite dumb, as New Jersey state Senator Declan O’Scanlon notes:

“It’s one of the dumbest ideas I’ve ever heard. It will drive more people away from a city desperately trying to recover from COVID,” O’Scanlon told NJ Advance Media. “New Jersey bans automated enforcement because we know it doesn’t improve safety and is theft.”

O’Scanlon said New Jersey lawmakers could retaliate by proposing a $100 fee for New Yorkers to enter New Jersey. “It’s toll to enter NYC. If they want to go down this path … we’ll propose our own fee,” he said. “Let’s hold hands and demonstrate how stupid we are.”

That is an option, but it’s probably not the best one.


  1. While I’m very wary of the use of automated enforcement, Massachusetts has a very real and very dangerous problem with red light running. It’s the single biggest difference I notice driving here versus other places, and I sure do wish we could manage to correct it. ↩︎