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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old 03-08-2010, 08:32 PM Thread Starter
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6 Cities That Were Caught Shortening Yellow Light Times For Profit

http://blog.motorists.org/6-cities-t...es-for-profit/

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Short yellow light times at intersections have been shown to increase the number of traffic violations and accidents. Conversely, increasing the yellow light duration can dramatically reduce red-light violations at an intersection.

Some local governments have ignored the safety benefit of increasing the yellow light time and decided to install red-light cameras, shorten the yellow light duration, and collect the profits instead.

Here are some of the cities that have been caught with short yellow light times over the past few years:

Important note: These news stories were collected from the archives of TheNewspaper.com, an excellent resource for anyone interested in traffic laws and other motorist issues. If you subscribe to TheNewspaper.com’s feed, you’ll never miss the latest news. It makes an excellent complement to this blog.

1) Chattanooga, Tennessee
The city of Chattanooga was forced refund $8800 in red light cameras tickets issued to motorists trapped by an illegally short yellow time. The refund only occurred after a motorist challenged his citation by insisting that the yellow light time of 3.0 seconds was too short. LaserCraft, the private vendor that runs the camera program in return for a cut of the profits, provided the judge with a computer database that asserted the yellow was 3.8 seconds at that location.

The judge then personally checked the intersection in question was timed at three seconds while other nearby locations had about four seconds of yellow warning. City traffic engineer John Van Winkle told Bean that “a mix up with the turn arrow” was responsible and that the bare minimum for the light should be 3.9 seconds.


2) Dallas, Texas
An investigation by KDFW-TV, a local TV station, found that of the ten cameras that issued the greatest number of tickets in the city, seven were located at intersections where the yellow duration is shorter than the bare minimum recommended by the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT).

The city’s second highest revenue producing camera, for example, was located at the intersection of Greenville Avenue and Mockingbird Lane. It issued 9407 tickets worth $705,525 between January 1 and August 31, 2007. At the intersections on Greenville Avenue leading up to the camera intersection, however, yellows are at least 3.5 or 4.0 seconds in duration, but the ticket-producing intersection’s yellow stands at just 3.15 seconds. That is 0.35 seconds shorter than TxDOT’s recommended bare minimum. Dallas likewise installed the cameras at locations with existing short yellow times. A total of twenty-one camera intersections in Dallas had yellow times below TxDOT’s bare minimum recommended amount.

The ticket camera program in Dallas made the news recently for shutting down some of its cameras because they were no longer profitable.


3) Springfield, Missouri
The city of Springfield, Missouri prepared for the installation of a red light camera system in 2007 by slashing the yellow warning time by one second at 105 state-owned intersection signals across the city.

The city defended its effort to the Springfield News-Leader by claiming it was “standardizing” and had increased the yellow time at 136 city-operated lights to meet national standards. During the city council meeting last October where the red light camera ordinance was approved, however, Assistant Director of Public Works Earl Newman gave a different explanation for the reduction. Newman said he was, “concerned that many individuals run the light if the light remained yellow too long.”


4) Lubbock, Texas
KBCD, a local television station, exposed the city’s short timing of yellow lights at eight of the twelve intersections where the devices were to be installed.

Prior to the news investigation, Lubbock City Engineer Jere Hart assured city council members that he would not increase yellow times. According to the city council’s traffic commission minutes of September 19, 2006, Jere said, “if [the red light camera program is] implemented, the public would prefer to have an increased amber cycle,” but he stated that, “the program will not adjust the amber/yellow time.”

Shortly after the investigation became public, red-light cameras were installed in Lubbock. However, after they proved to be both unprofitable (due in part to a new state law giving 50% of the ticket camera profit to the state) and unsafe (accidents increased where the cameras were installed), they were taken down.


5)Nashville, Tennessee
Even without red light cameras, police in Nashville, Tennessee have been earning hundreds of thousands in revenue by trapping motorists in conventional ticket traps at city intersections with the shortest yellow warning time.

In 2006, Nashville resident Joe Savage obtained the data on every red light running ticket issued on Broadway street since 2000. He said that yellow lights are longer at intersections along Broadway until the areas where police are issuing tickets. At those locations, Savage clocked the yellow signal time at less than 3 seconds, in violation of both state law and federal regulations. A local newspaper, The Nashville Scene, then confirmed his findings.


6) Union City, California
In 2005, Union City, California was caught trapping motorists with a yellow signal time 1.3 seconds below the minimum established by state law. As a result, the city was forced to refund more than $1 million in red light camera fines.

The city’s violation came to light after Dave Goodson, an engineer, received a ticket and realized that he did not have sufficient time to stop before the light had turned red. As a result of his inquiries, Union City’s traffic engineers admitted that they had set the yellow signal time at Union City Boulevard and Lowry Road at 3 seconds, despite the state law mandating the time be 4.3 seconds or greater.

Authorities said that the yellow was too short long before the cameras were installed, but that no effective system was in place to verify the timing of the traffic signals despite their direct impact on safety.


Closing Notes:
These are only the cities that have been caught; it’s likely that this happens much more than the general public has been led to believe. Many cities avoid the bad publicity involved with shortening yellow lights by installing the cameras at intersections with inadequate yellow light times from the beginning.

If you or a family member receive an unjustified red-light violation ticket, it may be worth your time to check the yellow light duration at the intersection where the ticket was given out.

The only way of finding the limits of the possible is by going beyond them into the impossible.
- Arthur C. Clarke
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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old 03-08-2010, 09:32 PM
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Re: 6 Cities That Were Caught Shortening Yellow Light Times For Profit

isn't it one second for every 10mph? Guess thats not universal haha


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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old 03-08-2010, 10:25 PM
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Re: 6 Cities That Were Caught Shortening Yellow Light Times For Profit

thats what it should be. the lights in edmonton are short as balls

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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old 03-08-2010, 10:29 PM
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Re: 6 Cities That Were Caught Shortening Yellow Light Times For Profit

Amazing what cities do to make money.


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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old 03-08-2010, 10:45 PM
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Re: 6 Cities That Were Caught Shortening Yellow Light Times For Profit

Here's what I don't understand. Why don't US have a yellow light for going?

I drive a manual, and I'm tired of looking at the other traffic light when I'm the first in line. It doesn't work in all intersections, but most red means it'll be your green in a matter of seconds.

Other countries have yellows, so drivers can pop into gear, get ready to work the clutch, and get going.
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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old 03-08-2010, 10:48 PM
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Re: 6 Cities That Were Caught Shortening Yellow Light Times For Profit

[quote author=Say Chi Sin Lo link=topic=167948.msg3560342#msg3560342 date=1268106312]
Here's what I don't understand. Why don't US have a yellow light for going?

I drive a manual, and I'm tired of looking at the other traffic light when I'm the first in line. It doesn't work in all intersections, but most red means it'll be your green in a matter of seconds.

Other countries have yellows, so drivers can pop into gear, get ready to work the clutch, and get going.
[/quote]

I like that idea. Here in FL we have snow birds who come down and take their sweet time....in the LEFT LANE.


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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old 03-08-2010, 10:48 PM
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Re: 6 Cities That Were Caught Shortening Yellow Light Times For Profit

[quote author=Say Chi Sin Lo link=topic=167948.msg3560342#msg3560342 date=1268106312]
Here's what I don't understand. Why don't US have a yellow light for going?

I drive a manual, and I'm tired of looking at the other traffic light when I'm the first in line. It doesn't work in all intersections, but most red means it'll be your green in a matter of seconds.

Other countries have yellows, so drivers can pop into gear, get ready to work the clutch, and get going.
[/quote]This is a huge thing I miss about England

Red, Red + Yellow, Green
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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old 03-09-2010, 10:04 AM
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Re: 6 Cities That Were Caught Shortening Yellow Light Times For Profit

They probably don't want to encourage drag racing from lights, but yeah a yellow + red before turning green would be nice. You'd probably see fewer people staring dumbly at the green light for 10 seconds before they start going (IE a bit more chance of seeing they should get moving soon).

Doesn't suprise me that some have shortened the light. There was a congressional investigation back around 2001 about short yellow lights. I don't think anything really came of it. I believe federal guidelines are 3 seconds minimum, and should be longer.

http://www.motorists.org/photoenforc...as-bad-choice/

Conclusion, adding 1 second to the yellow light duration reduce violations significantly. Probably also reduces accidents significantly as well. So changing from the average of 5 seconds from the early 80's (where speeds were also lower) to an average of around 3 seconds today has probably increased the rate of running redlights several times over, including a several fold increase in accidents as well (probably fair to say).

Good to know our local gov't care enough about revenue to put their citizens at undue risk.
-Matt

PS Yes appropriate timing should be about 1 second per 10mph. At 50mph you need around 5 seconds to react and stop your vehicle. If your fast out of the gate and slam on the brakes you can do it in perhaps 3 seconds (IF).
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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old 03-09-2010, 10:06 AM
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Re: 6 Cities That Were Caught Shortening Yellow Light Times For Profit

Quote:
The ticket camera program in Dallas made the news recently for shutting down some of its cameras because they were no longer profitable.
Thank goodness, too. I never run lights, but basically had to in order to not get rear ended yesterday. Never saw the "flash" from the camera, so I'm assuming I won't get a ticket in the mail.
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