Why Won't Local Governments Just Increase The Length Of Yellow Lights?

from the start-a-campaign dept

We've seen that, thanks to the economy, states like Maryland and New York are ramping up programs for speed and red light cameras. However, that's not true of all places. Mississippi recently went the other direction and banned such traffic cameras, following a similar backlash in Arizona. A recent Wall Street Journal article takes a look at all of this (including the fact that some of the bigger traffic camera companies are based in Arizona) and raises the key question: why won't local governments just increase the length of yellow lights on traffic signals. That, alone, would save numerous accidents (and lives). Yet, many governments have been doing the exact opposite: putting lives at risk, just to bring in more revenue (often to pay off those private companies that installed the cameras). On top of that, there are still plenty of locations that don't leave any pause between switching lights between cross traffic. Here in California, for example, it's quite rare for there to be any pause between a light turning red in one direction, and the perpendicular traffic light turning green. Studies have shown that a slight pause -- where all directions are red -- decreases the number of accidents as well. And yet... governments focus on using traffic cameras solely to increase revenue.


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  1.  
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    TheStupidOne, Apr 17th, 2009 @ 6:48pm

    Isn't that the primary function of local governments ... to bring in more money?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 17th, 2009 @ 6:56pm

    Re:

    Yep, kinda like the primary function of an intersection is to cause accidents.

     

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    Tom Utley (profile), Apr 17th, 2009 @ 7:10pm

    Because...

    Because that's the way government works. Government takes your money and gives it to their buddies. That's true of all government, federal, state, and local. Government is evil and we have given it too much power.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 17th, 2009 @ 7:15pm

    Sorry, no. Changing the yellow light timing just means more people will try to get through. I found that out when I moved from PA (short lights)to OH (long lights).

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 17th, 2009 @ 7:44pm

    I must say that this is one of the few times that I'm proud to be from Mississippi. At least we're doing something right.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 17th, 2009 @ 8:02pm

    primary function of governments

    no, the primary function of governments is to provide fundamental services and oversight where the free market cannot. for instance, fire rescue should never operate on an incentivized basis. if fire rescue was paid based on the number of fires they put out, they have an incentive to start fires. and if they only get paid directly by the people they save, they actually have an interest in waiting until fires spread from the poor neighborhoods to the rich neighborhoods, letting all the people in between become homeless.

    if i was a state politician i would make it a first degree felony for any light in the state to have below the federal minimum yellow plus 1 second (the federal minimum ranges from 3-6 depending on the speed at the intersection), or 4 seconds, whichever is larger (so even if they reduce the federal minimums, my state citizens are safer).

    and i'm not a bleeding heart liberal who is bitching about saving society from ourselves. i'm a libertanarchist who can't stand overreaching government. i don't want local governments in my state abusing people.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 17th, 2009 @ 8:19pm

    Red light and speed camera are NOT about safety, They are about revenue, The safety talk comes to get people to accept this continued RAPE of the American people!

     

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    Triatomic Tortoise, Apr 17th, 2009 @ 8:19pm

    Maryland Traffic Signal Scam

    In recent past, I had been cited with a red light jump mailed to me after the camera caught it. I realized that the signal reflector was designed such that it was impossible to tell the signal status on an empty road while the sunshine was directly on the signal reflectors. These reflectors are special types such that they don't diffuse light very well. As a result, you are likely to miss it if the road is empty and you do not have somebody else or other traffic to confirm. This was in Maryland. However, these are also seen in other states.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 17th, 2009 @ 8:22pm

    Increase the pause when all lights are red, if you are serious about saving lives. Anyone who wants a revenue stream should be removed.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 17th, 2009 @ 8:29pm

    It's quite simple. Yellow means stop if it's safe to do so, red means stop. It's very easy to not run a red light if you're not of the "yellow means I have some time to beat the light" crowd or just blindly tailgating the car in front of you. If you drive well, you will not run a red light, one of the most dangerous things you can do on the roadways. You want to know why red light cameras exist? Because people can be inconsiderate and unsafe douchebags behind the wheel, and the bigger populations get, the more douchebags you get.

     

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    Pedro, Apr 17th, 2009 @ 8:37pm

    Every time red light and/or speed cameras have come up for a vote of the people, they have lost. Voters need to make politicians who blatantly ignore this pay at the ballot box (or rigged ballot computer, or whatever), and work to bring the issue before a general vote. Also, for those who don't think extending the yellow actually works, look at Georgia, where the state government mandated minimum federal yellow plus one second. Now local governments are abandoning their red light cameras because they don't bring in enough money. That is, with an extended yellow light, not enough people "run" the red light to cover the costs of the program. Clearly, though, the real reason wasn't that they weren't generating enough revenue, it must be that they weren't generating enough safety.

     

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    Jon, Apr 17th, 2009 @ 8:45pm

    The issue on red-light cameras is pretty clear; governments use them as a revenue building tool. I'm actually a little more concerned about the Massachusetts Governor.

    "Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick is moving ahead with a plan for mandatory GPS devices in cars that would be read at gas pumps and automatically charge drivers for miles driven."

    The fact that this idea is even being considered frightens the crap out of me. It's almost as bad as the OnStar device that allows OnStar to shut off your car.

     

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    Frank J. Mattia, Apr 17th, 2009 @ 9:45pm

    i don't think any of those are the "right" solution

    no matter how fast or slow the yellow light is, people will still try to beat it. the BEST solution, in my opinion - is to not immediately flip the lights from yellow-red to red-green. rather than that, flip them yellow-red, red-red, red-green.

    the red-red time should be set as a federal limit of say... 4 seconds. all directions in an intersection should be red for that limit before allowing travel in any direction. there will always be people who try to "beat the light" - i believe that reducing those fatalities is key to making intersections safer nation wide.

    by enacting red-light cameras instead of taking preventative action in the best interest of the drivers mortality - government is clearly saying "we don't care about you".

    does it really need to be any more complicated than this?

    - FJM

     

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    JDub, Apr 17th, 2009 @ 10:18pm

    Exactly, don't increase the length of the yellow, increase the delay between when a light turns red and its opposing lights turn green. Adding a few seconds there, while a huge inconvenience to most, will make accidents entirely X partys fault.

     

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    Safe Driver, Apr 17th, 2009 @ 11:36pm

    I think the only people who squawk about red light cameras are the people at risk of getting caught by them.

    I don't try to beat yellow lights, and I couldn't care less if there's a camera to catch the person who does.

    In Germany everyone stops when the light is yellow, because while your light is going green-yellow-red, the opposite light is going red-yellow-GREEN and those drivers are *ready to go* on green!

    If our traffic lights worked like that here, the problem of running red lights would be solved..... eventually....

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 18th, 2009 @ 12:04am

    It's rediculous in California

    The sad thing is the cameras are installed not to prevent people running lights but to catch those that do not come to a complete stop before they make a right on red. Most of the revenue received from camera tickets are for that it's something like 80%.

     

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    Traffic Engineer, Apr 18th, 2009 @ 2:35am

    No Intergreen Period?

    As a traffic engineer in the UK I find it astonishing that there is no period of time (intergreen period) between streams of traffic having green time. This is an incredibly straightforward safety measure, designed to prevent drivers being in the centre of the junction when the other stream gets green time.

    Moreover, those who sanctimoniously claim that all drivers should stop on yellow are simply wrong. The yellow light is to tell drivers to stop if safe to do so. You would not want drivers who are about to enter the junction to slam on the brakes if the light turns yellow, would you?

     

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    PRMan, Apr 18th, 2009 @ 4:18am

    Untrue generalization

    Cerritos, CA pioneered 4-way reds over 30 years ago when I was growing up there. Many of the cities local to Cerritos (SE LA County, NW Orange County) followed soon after.

    Maybe the Bay Area is 30 years behind on this issue, but it's certainly not true of all of California.

     

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    Overcast, Apr 18th, 2009 @ 6:16am

    why won't local governments just increase the length of yellow lights on traffic signals. That, alone, would save numerous accidents (and lives)

    Because, by and large - Government cars more about money than lives - this issue is pretty much proof of that.

     

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    The infamous Joe, Apr 18th, 2009 @ 6:18am

    Re:

    I am too, because I live in MA.

    However, there is talk about doing it nationally.

     

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    TDR, Apr 18th, 2009 @ 6:26am

    And left turn arrows should be added to all applicable traffic lights that don't have them. Loads of accidents happen because people misjudge when to make the turn. Better to have an arrow in place to make it clear when to go and when not to.

     

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    The infamous Joe, Apr 18th, 2009 @ 6:26am

    Re: i don't think any of those are the "right" solution

    I assumed this was to catch people who ran the light after it *just* turned red, knowing that there was a period where both lights are red.

    It happens all the time here, and it pisses me off-- usually because it results in that douche being stuck in the middle of the intersection blocking the people who now get a green light but can't go anywhere.

    Red light cameras are a revenue scam, but the speeding laws are just as much a scam-- so no one should feel that this is new. Here in Boston, pretty much everyone speeds (and I'm okay with that!) but I consistently see the state troopers on the side of the road, not pulling anyone over. I've always wondered, since we are all breaking the rules, why they only enforce it come the end of the month? Clearly, it's about revenue and not "making me safe". (Not that making me drive 55mph makes me any safer than driving 70mph.)

     

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    Vincent Clement, Apr 18th, 2009 @ 6:51am

    Re:

    Or do both. Increase the length of the amber light and increase the time that the lights are all read.

     

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    Vincent Clement, Apr 18th, 2009 @ 6:53am

    Re:

    No, it is worse than the "OnStar device that allows OnStar to shut off your car" because you CHOSE to have the OnStar device in your car.

     

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    Vincent Clement, Apr 18th, 2009 @ 6:55am

    Re:

    Perhaps those people who misjudge should not be driving in the first place?

     

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    geekwrench, Apr 18th, 2009 @ 7:22am

    red light cameras

    Main problem: its too easy to get a drivers license
    side problem: people prefer to assume
    I am a professional mechanic. Ive covered over half million miles of driving around California. Long yellows mean more runners. Longer pauses cause emancipators to run into eliminators. I'm sorry to say but the intersections with the cameras seem to have the least # of accidents.

     

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    Alan, Apr 18th, 2009 @ 7:41am

    In OZ

    Over here (in South Australia) we have red-light cameras BUT they seem to have a lag of about 1.5 seconds, so they only hit the people who have definitely run the red. Similarly, we have a red-red on all intersections, so people turning against the traffic (right over here, left over there) who are already in the intersection still have time to make it across before the other direction turns green. Works OK until some moron actually runs a red light...

     

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    Driver, Apr 18th, 2009 @ 8:10am

    it's on the drivers

    It's simple. States don't have a delay or very little delay in the change between lights because if there is a delay, the drivers learn the timing and they assume they can be safe more often when running a red/yellow light. It's like speed limits. They post a 65 speed limit when in reality its ok to be doing 70 or 75 because everybody is and I've only seen one time when the cops actually pulled everybody over.

    Road rules, signs, lights.. etc are all forms of control. The more stretch they have to them the more we the drivers will stretch them.

     

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  29.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 18th, 2009 @ 8:49am

    Re: Re:

    LaHood Talks of Mileage-Based Tax

    - a bit off topic but worth discussion
    1) GPS in every vehicle is possibly the worst method of implementation.
    2) A milage based tax is already in place. The more you drive, the more gas you need and it has worked for many years.

    The problem (or excuse) is that cars have become more fuel efficent (government mandate) and therefore revenue has decreased. I guess they overlooked the recession causing people to drive less. The most efficient government response to this government caused problem would be to increase the gas tax. This would keep the fuel efficiency benefit and incentive.

    Scary version: government wants to track everyone all the time and this just an excuse to crawl into your vehicle.

     

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  30.  
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    Your Gawd and Master, Apr 18th, 2009 @ 9:51am

    Re:

    No, red light cameras exist exclusively to make revenue for the town. They'd use police officers if they were really worried about safety.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 18th, 2009 @ 10:19am

    There was a post some time ago in a thread about red light or speed cameras in which the poster pointed out compelling logic regarding safety vs revenue. A short search did not locate the post. Anyway, it was pointed out that if the cameras were put in place for the sole purpose of safety, then they would be expected to lose money and the yellow would be lenghtened for safety regardless of cost. And furthermore, upon losing money they would stay in place - for your safety.

     

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    McViking, Apr 18th, 2009 @ 10:38am

    Redlight Cameras

    Stupid Americans; corrupt government, liberal media, metro-men/bulldog women and you're surprised that the local fascists are rat..king you too...

     

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    McViking, Apr 18th, 2009 @ 11:38am

    Redlight Cameras

    Stupid Americans; corrupt government, liberal media, metro-men/bulldog women and you're surprised that the local fascists are rat..king you too...

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 18th, 2009 @ 11:49am

    Re: Redlight Cameras

    - liberal media -

    That's funny ... like Fox News - Fair and Balanced.

    I would venture to say that "the media" spans the entire spectrum; left, right and middle. Distrbution is not uniform but it certainly is not soley left or right as so many seem to claim.

     

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    Glen, Apr 18th, 2009 @ 12:21pm

    An extra light prior to the yellow light

    As I see it, the yellow lights are too short and we don’t know how long they will be on (some are on longer then others).
    The answer is to add another light prior to the yellow light to give us that extra time to stop (especially in bigger rigs – it is harder to stop).
    With today’s technology this could be done easily. How about make the yellow light FLASH for 2 seconds prior to turning (solid) yellow.
    This would give us the extra time we need to safely stop.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 18th, 2009 @ 12:27pm

    That article is just ignorant. While traffic cameras may be political decisions, signal timing is an engineering function.

     

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    AZ, Apr 18th, 2009 @ 12:33pm

    because the ATM aspect of these cameras is like a drug

    They don't because these cameras are like an ATM that is a drug for the cities that are cash strapped. The company that makes them pays for studies that show how they can help cities, then hire lobbyists to get the laws passed, and then split the revenue with the cities. Everybody wins, right, wrong! The average driver doesn't. The only way to stop them is to cut off the air - the $ they make. I got a GPS device called gps angel (http://www.gpsangel.com) that beeps when I'm near one of these cameras. Picked it up for $99 on Amazon.

     

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  38.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 18th, 2009 @ 12:59pm

    Re:

    Sorry, no. Changing the yellow light timing just means more people will try to get through.

    Most studies have shown otherwise. But then, you're the expert, huh?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 18th, 2009 @ 1:08pm

    Re: No Intergreen Period?

    As a traffic engineer in the UK I find it astonishing that there is no period of time (intergreen period) between streams of traffic having green time.

    That's because over here they're more interested in making money that promoting safety.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 18th, 2009 @ 1:11pm

    Re: red light cameras

    I am a professional mechanic.

    So, how does that qualify you as an engineer?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 18th, 2009 @ 2:29pm

    Re:

    "signal timing is an engineering function."

    Not sure just what is meant by that, but ok.

    And the politicians then let the (private company) engineering function decrease the yellow light duration.

     

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    David, Apr 18th, 2009 @ 3:01pm

    Delay

    Is this correct? "Here in California, for example, it's quite rare for there to be any pause between a light turning red in one direction, and the perpendicular traffic light turning green.". Here in the UK, I`ve never, ever heard of a set of traffic lights that aren't staggered (as we call it) in their timing, normally being red on both sets for several seconds. Mind you, that still doesn't stop the jumpers who know about this and take chances. As a professional driver, I've seen it all - and some!

     

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    Derek Kerton (profile), Apr 18th, 2009 @ 3:44pm

    Re:

    So you are advocating using cars moving in the perpendicular direction, but in the path of traffic, as as signal that it REALLY is time to stop?

    Yeah, that should improve safety.

    Meanwhile, the smart commenters (and the research) say the exact opposite: that having the two directions display Red simultaneously for some short time reduces accidents.

     

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    NullOp, Apr 18th, 2009 @ 4:15pm

    What?

    We regularly kill 50K people in this country in auto accidents, year in, year out. Now why would we do anything to maybe save a life when we can definately make a buck if we don't?

     

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    Cheese McBeese, Apr 18th, 2009 @ 4:16pm

    People will always push the limits on any system. For every logical or courteous person there are a dozen idiots who will 'learn' the length of the yellow light and try to run the edge of the red light.

    Cameras are expensive and unnecessary. It's time to embed RFID chips into license plates (add the cost to the license) and replace cameras with simple radio scanning strips built into the roads. The same thing could be done on highways to detect speeding. Your car could tell you that "You are traveling more than 10% over the speed limit. You have 15 seconds to slow down or you will be issued a speeding ticket." This could all be done today. It's cheaper and far less complex than the nav systems people use.

    So why don't we solve this problem? Because WE are the idiots who all run the red lights and WE are also the same people who elect the idiots in government who make the rules. When WE want to solve these types of silly issues, WE will.

     

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    McViking, Apr 18th, 2009 @ 4:22pm

    Re: Re: Redlight Cameras

    Fox is an anomaly, the media typically encompasses at least 80% liberal scum. Speaking of fruits, flakes and lights, spend some time in cesspools like San Francisco and Santa Monica and catching a red light ticket will be the least of your worries.
    Bend over America.

     

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    Cheese McBeese, Apr 18th, 2009 @ 4:58pm

    Re: Re: Re: Redlight Cameras

    The world is fortunate to have someone as enlightened and articulate as you amongst the population. If only more families were willing to breed with their siblings so we could benefit from more people just like you.

     

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  48.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 18th, 2009 @ 5:12pm

    Re:

    I hope you are not serious, sometimes it is difficult to tell.

    Think I'll add to your silliness. Lets also install in every vehicle a device to automatically issue fines when an infraction is detected, not unlike that seen in the movie Demolition Man. No more swearing at those idiot driverz.

     

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    McViking, Apr 18th, 2009 @ 6:34pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Redlight Cameras

    "breed with their siblings", you sick b.....d. Cloning is the new liberal US mandate; it doesn't "Take A Village", after all. See you on camera.

     

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    GHynson, Apr 18th, 2009 @ 8:34pm

    F*^$ Cars

    There was nothing wrong with the horse and carriage.

     

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    J. Freeman, Apr 18th, 2009 @ 9:54pm

    Re: An extra light prior to the yellow light

    Because flashing yellow means you can proceed with caution, as the intersecting street will have a flashing red.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 18th, 2009 @ 10:49pm

    Re:

    That article is just ignorant. While traffic cameras may be political decisions, signal timing is an engineering function.

    While signal timing SHOULD be an engineering function, it seems to have become a political one.

     

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    Spectere, Apr 18th, 2009 @ 11:09pm

    Re: Delay

    Is this correct? "Here in California, for example, it's quite rare for there to be any pause between a light turning red in one direction, and the perpendicular traffic light turning green.". Here in the UK, I`ve never, ever heard of a set of traffic lights that aren't staggered (as we call it) in their timing, normally being red on both sets for several seconds.

    I suppose it could be just a California thing. I've lived both in Ohio and Maryland, and have also driven extensively in Florida and Pennsylvania, and don't recall seeing a set of lights that weren't staggered like that.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 18th, 2009 @ 11:38pm

    Redlight Cameras don't work.

    True, Red light cameras are merely a bandage for a larger problem of flying overpasses.

    In my state, they tried red light cameras for about a decade at a few choice intersections that were among the top 50 in traffic in the country.

    Redlight Cameras, and the idea of legislating by re-programming behaviours also doesn't take into consideration population and city growth.

    Eventually, the local municipality got smart, and the intersections with redlight cameras in 1996 were voted on replacement by voters, and approved by a large margin.

    The flyovers to not only replaced the lights, but also the cameras. This solution not only increased safety, but also was in-line with proposed 10 and 15 year population growth estimates in the area. Plus, increased commercial and retail establishments ultimately lead to collection of more sales tax revenue.


    Sometimes you just need to bite the bullet and quit looking to make a quick buck:
    Pissing off residents can create a gap in collectible tax revenue by making them move.

    And pissing off people who come to spend money in your municipality makes them patronize elsewhere.

     

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    YoMamma, Apr 19th, 2009 @ 12:18am

    Mo' Money

    Why not increase yellow time? Because going through red makes them money.

    Same reason Police hide to catch a speeder when it is proven that keeping the Police car visible is enough to slow people down. Is the priority to keep people safe or get money?

    Same reason they hide at the bottom of a hill vs. the top... easy money.

    Why they hate responding to domestic disturbances? No Money.

    Why the traffic stops quadruple in Feb-Mar? End of fiscal year time to make their budget.

    The list goes on.

     

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    Schlomo, Apr 19th, 2009 @ 1:21am

    Re: It's rediculous in California

    Not stopping before making a free right turn IS running a red light.

     

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    Bubba Nicholson (profile), Apr 19th, 2009 @ 1:27am

    Re: Because...

    The Bushes were evil. Old Bush personally shot JFK and led mostly Cuban plumbers from his family plantations to shoot, wound shoot at or frame: JFK, RFK, MLK, Wallace, Teddy, Joseph P. Kennedy, Ford and Reagan. W raped hundreds of republican teenagers (mostly teeny boppers) in Dallas and Houston. Together they hired and groomed Obama. He seems to have been a wise selectee, no? At least so far that is. Time will tell.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 19th, 2009 @ 1:48am

    Re: Re: Because...

    What are you drinking tonight, Bubba?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  59.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 19th, 2009 @ 2:30am

    Re: Re: It's rediculous in California

    Ah! So that's where the term "California Stop" comes from.

    My old man does CDL licensing in a neighboring state, and he said "I would have ticketed you for stopping in a clear intersection on a right turn for endangering people behind you"

    Seriously, all you Californians really, really, have been babied and don't know how to drive.

    There's a reason why we all laugh at you behind your back.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  60.  
    identicon
    Bradley Stewart, Apr 19th, 2009 @ 4:13am

    Isn't that why we elect our Government?

    To steal our money. I'm not a Lawyer but I would bet if one could make a good case that this practice caused at least one serious injury to a person or persons and the initial reason for this traffic light was not safety but as a money maker. One hefty personal injury law suit against the city that was won in court and cost the citizens of that city a lot of money would go a long way to ending this legaly sanctioned criminal practice by our Government would soon come to a thank full end.

     

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  61.  
    identicon
    mwalczak, Apr 19th, 2009 @ 4:37am

    Yes may all be true, and should be regulated, but this country needs something more like Germany or England since I have seen many accidents by red light runners. I have even been at a number of red lights when I lived in Illinois where I could not even get into the intersection because of the red light runners, and I was the first care in line. As country we want it both ways, we want to break the law and in force the law when it serves us.

     

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  62.  
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    Mark Schippel, Apr 19th, 2009 @ 5:49am

    Longer Yellow Lights

    Being in the army I have lived in several countries and states. The problem has nothing to do with the length of the lights but with the drivers who are trying to beat the lights. It has been getting worse here in the U.S. over the last several years. Here in Georgia it is not safe to go as soon as the light turns green necause there will always be one more moron who will run the red light. By the way the yellow lights here are about 4-5 seconds. Longer yellow lights mean more runners. If cameras increase city revenue and lower accident rates then bring them on. If enough people get tickets it might even lower local taxes (yeah, right).

     

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  63.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 19th, 2009 @ 5:57am

    Re:

    Germany possibly has some idea.

    But even the mere suggestion England's implementation would be warmly welcomed in the USA leaves me shaking my head. Violently. If I was a child, I would probably be pronounced dead right now from SIDS.

    How long did you stay in England, mwalczak? Probably not very long. Or perhaps, the inverse is true. How long have you been in the USA, mwalzak?

     

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  64.  
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    Heinrich Ulmacher, Apr 19th, 2009 @ 6:01am

    Re:

    I agree.

    Illinois produces some real crazy drivers.

    I wonder how many red lights Obama ran.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  65.  
    identicon
    fermi, Apr 19th, 2009 @ 8:19am

    There's a signal in Oakland, CA that has a significant pause between a red in one direction and a green in the other, about 4 seconds. @ W MacArthur and MLK. The reason... it's a 6 lane street with a 4 lane cross that also doubles as freeway ramps and too many people were getting killed

     

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  66.  
    identicon
    Brad, Apr 19th, 2009 @ 8:24am

    Switerland does something different

    When I was traveling in Switzerland recently I was intrigued by the way they handle traffic lights. When the light goes yellow in one direction, the opposite direction also gets the yellow lit up (along with the red still lit). This gives the other direction the cue that they are about to get to go.

    I wonder if the knowledge that the other side is going to be revved and ready to take off when they turn green cuts down on the number of people trying to sneak through at the end, sort of the opposite of putting a delay in where both are red for a moment.

     

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  67.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 19th, 2009 @ 8:31am

    Wow, some of these suggestions are really draconian.
    Here's another ... lets install tire shreaders that activate upon red - that will get those basturds.

     

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  68.  
    identicon
    Kevin Wilson, Apr 19th, 2009 @ 1:39pm

    cameras

    This article speaks only to what is fact. Green is what matters. Not human life or doing the right thing. Greed is Good, that is the unspoken truth of business. People just get in the way.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  69.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 19th, 2009 @ 4:39pm

    Re:

    I think you're a little confused about the problem here. The problem isn't that there are red light cameras, it's that they're being installed for profit, so there is incentive to decrease yellow light length (so that people will be more likely to run a red light). To really get rid of the danger, it would be better to lengthen yellow lights and the pause when all lights on an intersection are red.

     

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  70.  
    identicon
    lwasserm, Apr 19th, 2009 @ 4:52pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Instead of GPS in every vehicle why not implant it in every PERSON?

     

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  71.  
    identicon
    bobo, Apr 19th, 2009 @ 8:12pm

    Blinking Yellow

    I was in Canada (Vancouver I think), the light is green, turns yellow and then blinks yellow 4 or 5 times before it turns red. This gives people more of a sense of when the light will change. Yes, I understand then you will just have people trying to beat the flashing yellow, but at least its an effort. The easiest thing is just to know how to drive, but where I live that is usually asking too much.

    Gotta love getting your license at 16 and never having to take a drivers test again.

     

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  72.  
    identicon
    NRK, Apr 19th, 2009 @ 8:47pm

    Longer yellow light

    Just more time to take more risk. Better to do like Europe where when the yellow turns to red there is a two second wait for the green.

    Just think what cameras do. Creates a self paying bureaucracy, public & private jobs while lowering the accident rate.

     

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  73.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 19th, 2009 @ 10:33pm

    To stop red light jumpers, don't have lights.
    Roundabouts can be safer than intersections:
    http://safety.fhwa.dot.gov/intersections/roundabouts.htm

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  74.  
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    jeffinIndiana, Apr 19th, 2009 @ 11:45pm

    Re: Re: i don't think any of those are the "right" solution

    You are absolutely right about this. Its all about
    Revenue for the state and county government!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  75.  
    identicon
    Ridiculous, Apr 20th, 2009 @ 4:17am

    It's pretty ridiculous how most of you think about camera placement and red light.
    Because all of you are nagging, about a corrupt government and what not.
    It's the same government that tries its best to keep you people safe, that's where the camera is for, of course there is a redneck every once in a while that runs a red-light and gets caught on camera, but did you ever stop and tried to think about how many people stop when they know there is a camera around.

    I've seen some horrific driving accidents just because the idiots that have a green light spent more time looking at the traffic light, and making sure they make a rocket start than they pay attention on the road ahead of them.

    Yellow means stop when it's safe to do so, there are few situations where it is not safe, for example if you have make a break on a dime or when a big truck is to close (where you could trigger an accident if you pushed the breaks).

     

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  76.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 20th, 2009 @ 5:29am

    Re:

    I live in a medium-sized town in central Indiana where there is a discernable pause between one light turning red and the next line turning green. I think the pause is at least a second. People have become adjusted to the pause so now they will run the red if it turns red just before they get to the intersection. Add the runner to a jackrabbit start and you have serious injury.

    Regardless of what you do with timing of the lights, pauses, etc., people will continue to run red lights. It is what people do.

     

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  77.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 20th, 2009 @ 5:44am

    Re: What?

    What country are you talking about? The death toll for 2008 was 37,313 in the United States, which appears to be more than a minor amount off from 50k.

    Source: http://www.cnn.com/2009/TRAVEL/04/06/us.traffic.deaths/

    On a slightly separate, but related note, intersection accidents are typically the #1 or #2 site of traffic accidents and deaths. According to the Federal Highway Administration, in spite of changes in intersection designs and safety improvements, the percentage of accidents at intersections have not changed significantly. Their recommendation? Get rid of intersections and go to roundabouts.

    Source: http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/resourcecenter/teams/safety/safe_7rnd.cfm

     

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  78.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 20th, 2009 @ 6:03am

    Re: Mo' Money

    Some people will not learn, even with a HIGHLY VISIBLE police car...

    One day I was driving on highway 270 in St. Louis County. I came to a clot of traffic as we passed the McDonnell exit on the west side of St. Louis County. I realized there was an unmarked police car leading the group and settled back with the rest of the group.

    I looked in my rear view mirror to see a sporty little car blistering down highway 270. The young female driver quickly slowed when she realized that I was not going to move over (I was in the far left lane and could not move over because there were cars beside me). She was within a car length of my bumper for 5 or 10 seconds before dropping back and moving right.

    The police car had been moving toward the right lane, perhaps to get off at Lindbergh. However, as the young lady zipped to the far right lane and squeezed into gaps between cars, the unmarked police car (which was covered in antennas and had clearly visible red and blue lights in the rear window, a spotlight clearly visible even from behind in any lane to the left of the police car, AND a state license plate - it would take an idiot to miss the car), began shifting lanes back to the left.

    When the young lady got through the crowd of cars, she hit the gas and took off, passing the police car, which was in the lane next to hers, and quickly disappearing as 270 begins to curve east at this point. Since we were driving 60 mph, I estimate her speed at between 80 and 90 mph.

    I watched the highway patrolman to see what he was going to do. He reached over, picked up and put on his hat, straightening it. Then he hit the lights and the gas at the same time, quickly disappearing around the curve on 270.

    A short time later I passed the police car, now parked on the should of 270 behind the zippy little sports car with its oblivious driver.

    Moral: It does not matter how obvious the police cars are. It does not matter how long the yellow lights are. It does not matter how long the gap is between the red and the green lights. Someone will always break the law for some mental justification and statistically the more of these violations there are, the more accidents there will be. It is because people will always figure out how to game the system that changes to intersections will not work.

    The only real problem with red light cameras is that it catches the people who game the system, pissing them off. Amazingly, we have one traffic circle or roundabout in our town, our first, in fact, and guess what? Yep, it pisses people off because, wait for it...IT SLOWS THEM DOWN AND THEY HAVE TO ACTUALLY WAIT FOR TRAFFIC ALREADY IN THE CIRCLE. Amazing. I have heard of people aiming for a referendum to get rid of the traffic circle. Too funny.

     

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  79.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 20th, 2009 @ 6:05am

    Re: Longer Yellow Lights

    Yep, you have it right.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  80.  
    identicon
    Stephen Stockman, Apr 20th, 2009 @ 8:07am

    Smart Lights

    I looked through the posts and could not find any reference to it but I find it hard to believe that no one would bring it up.

    Smart lights.
    Lights that detect if someone is about to run a red light that turn all lights red.

    I live in Houston and the few lights I have seen where there is a delay before a light goes green, all lights are red, there has been a huge difference in the number of people running lights. Has turned some intersections from death traps to just dangerous.

    The red light cameras are everywhere around where I live.. Has it helped? No. Not at all. The cameras go off about 5 times every red light. I wonder how many accidents the flash has caused oncoming traffic..

     

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  81.  
    identicon
    nasch, Apr 20th, 2009 @ 10:08am

    Re:

    Adding a few seconds there, while a huge inconvenience to most, will make accidents entirely X partys fault.

    Where "huge" is "very tiny", yes.

     

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  82.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 20th, 2009 @ 10:30am

    Compounding crimes...

    lol...I saw it again today. I was heading home for lunch and stopped at an intersection where the speed limit was 30 mph. The light turned yellow and a person about a half block away hit the gas. The light turned red and about a second later the speeder, now going between 40 and 50 mph, hit the red light about a second after it changed. So, speeding at least 10 mph over the speed limit, running a red light, going too fast for existing conditions (considering he was going a lot faster than the cars he was with, this might fly) and driving recklessly (going 10 mph or more faster than everyone else is clearly reckless). I wish someone had a video camera or that there had been a cop at the intersection.

     

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  83.  
    identicon
    nasch, Apr 20th, 2009 @ 10:52am

    Re: it's on the drivers

    By that reasoning, the light going one way should turn green while the opposite direction is still yellow. Because if you wait until one light is red before turning the other one green, drivers learn the timing and assume they can be safe more often when running a red/yellow light.

    You see how making stuff up is less reliable than actual data?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  84.  
    identicon
    nasch, Apr 20th, 2009 @ 12:00pm

    Re: Re: Mo' Money

    Someone will always break the law for some mental justification and statistically the more of these violations there are, the more accidents there will be. It is because people will always figure out how to game the system that changes to intersections will not work.

    The reasoning here is flawed. The fact that some number of people will break the law no matter what does not imply that no improvement of outcomes is possible.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  85.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 20th, 2009 @ 1:11pm

    Re: Re: Re: Mo' Money

    Nasch:

    I did not mean to imply that there was no potential for improvement of outcomes. Indeed, there are statistics that show improvements can be had. Increasing the length of yellow lights appears to decrease accidents, at least in the short term. I have not seen studies regarding long term use of increased length yellow lights. I have also seen studies that indicate that the use of traffic circles has a significant affect on fatal accidents and serious injuries, and I believe on accidents in general. Lastly, I am aware of numerous studies showing that speed cameras (as opposed to red light cameras) statistically correlate with reduced accidents and deaths.

    Yes, some people will always break the law, even if it if virtually certain they will get caught. Perhaps what I should have said was that because people will always figure out how to game the system by learning how the new system works (I can safely run a red light up to 4 seconds after the light changes) that changes will never be as effective as we would like them to be, and changes may have their greatest effect immediately after the change and then slowly decline in effectiveness with time. I look forward to the studies.

     

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  86.  
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    matt g, Apr 20th, 2009 @ 1:31pm

    I am not sure extending yellow lights will do anything. I feel that regardless of if the yellow is 3, 5 or 7 seconds long someone will still speed up to ebat it. But, I think the idea of extending the "all red" will definetly help.

     

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  87.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 20th, 2009 @ 2:22pm

    Re:

    Increased yellow length might work to stop many people. For those people who see traffic lights as optional, the only thing that seems to work, sometimes after the fact, is a car in the intersection. Of course, by then it is too late.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  88.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 22nd, 2009 @ 7:41am

    At least were I am at, adding time to the yellow light wouldn't resolve the problem and from what I have seen, no where else would it either. People think the yellow light means hit the gas, the light will change.

    If people see that there is a delay between their light going red and the cross street going green, they will think it is alright to run the light red because there is that delay.

    We got two red light cameras where I live. Those intersections are a lot safer then before they were installed as red light didn't mean anything to most drivers.

     

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  89.  
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    jim, Sep 2nd, 2010 @ 3:19pm

    Red light camera

    I was driving off the expressway ramp and the light started to turn yellow at the stop light. I am going 40 miles per hour the speed limit maybe a little fasted getting off the expressway. The light after turning yellow three seconds later turns red while I am moving. Stopping would have been a danger move on my part. A few days later in the mail is a stop light violation. I was yellow to short of time to stop completely. This camera is located on exit 59 eastbound ramp off of the LIE I 495 Long Island NY.

     

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  90.  
    identicon
    Steve, Nov 21st, 2010 @ 7:36pm

    Red light cameras

    Most red light cameras stay in the same place for years. You could avoid some by changing your route everyday to avoid being rear ended or rear ending someone.I would like
    to see in Illinois automatic NO TURN ON RED at all intersections with a camera.By the way only two counties
    around the St.Loius area and six around Chicago can have
    Red Light Cameras so this means if you move elsewhere in that state it is possible you will never see one.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  91.  
    identicon
    Medhue, Oct 19th, 2013 @ 12:33am

    Re: primary function of governments

    Sorry, but I have to respond, as you know very little about the market. In a real free market, and for most businesses, their decisions are based on the response of the customers. It is the customers that are the people that drive the direction of the business. In the case of a fire department, it is quite likely that the individual stations could easily be privatized, but paid by the local city. They would be far more efficient, and approaches varying between different companies. We live in a time where technology is moving at lightspeed, and it is only a business looking to compete that can innovate at a speed to keep up with society. Even in the area of traffic control, we are seeing 1 bad technology being used by almost every single city in the US. This would never happen in a market based industry. The cost of these lights is many times higher than the old lights, with little to no benefit at all. No business would have done this. Not to even mention the increased cost of maintenance.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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