Cities Caught Illegally Tampering With Traffic Lights To Increase Revenue Of Red Light Cameras

from the this-again? dept

Just last month there was the latest in a rather long line of reports noting that red light cameras tend to increase the number of accidents because people slam on their brakes to stop in time, leading to rear-ending accidents. Time and time again studies have shown that if cities really wanted to make traffic crossings safer there’s a very simple way to do so: increase the length of the yellow light and make sure there’s a pause before the cross traffic light turns green (this is done in some places, but not in many others). Tragically, it looks like some cities are doing the opposite! Jeff Nolan points out that six US cities have been caught decreasing the length of the yellow light below the legal limits in an effort to catch more drivers running red lights and increasing revenue. This is especially disgusting. These cities are actively putting more people in danger of serious injury or death solely for the sake of raising revenue — while claiming all along that it’s for safety purposes. Is it any surprise that one of the six cities is Dallas? Remember, just last month Dallas decided it wasn’t going to install any more red light cameras because fewer tickets had hurt city revenue.

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Comments on “Cities Caught Illegally Tampering With Traffic Lights To Increase Revenue Of Red Light Cameras”

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182 Comments
koresho says:

of course

America is run like a big business now. The government doesn’t care about us, that has been obvious for some time and this announcement really shows that to be true. All the city cares about is revenue. I got a ticket for speeding recently, and they charged a $107 fee for a defensive driving course- on top of me having to pay for the course. That may not be news but it was my first ticket so, it was news to me. Thats just ridiculous.

eskayp says:

Re: Re: of course

Yet Big Business is running the RedLight Cams in some cities and collecting the fines using threatening letters.
The short Amber signal times may be causing more accidents, injuries, and insurance expenses,
but that’s not Big Business’ problem as long as the revenue keeps getting raked in.
As for government not laying people off, you might check what has happened at the EPA and OSHA over the past decade.
Some may feel our civil institutions should be run like Big Business,
but the current resident of the Whitehouse already has our nation following Enron’s example.
Enron’s shareholders and America’s citizens get the shaft while the people at the top walk away with the loot.

Mr. Vage says:

Re: Re: Florida

But at the same time, seat belts also save people. It really depends on the situation. Seat belts could kill just as many people as they save. I don’t have any numbers or any sort of evidence to prove if seat belts save more than they kill, but if they do, you’re best placing your bet on wearing the seat belt.

Maybe someday we’ll see an adaptive restraint system that can decide based on data from dozens sensors and physics calculations if it would be best to keep the seat belt on or to release it.

Jared says:

Re: Re: Florida

I’m not sure where you are going with this, but you can’t say that just because ‘some’ passengers would have been bettter off without a seatbealt that you should remove the seatbelt law. These REALLY do save lives.. i’m sure one could find an incident or two where a helmet could have injured someone [though I’m not trying to say we shouldn’t wear them, I agree they are helpful] ..there are just always exceptions to the rule, but we can’t base our judgements on that

tubes says:

Re: Re: Re: Florida

Yes that is what I am saying remove it as a LAW! If you want to wear it because it makes you feel safer than wear it but its a personal choice & only a personal injury. The only reason that it is a law, is so a cop can & will pull you for no apparent reason and they can then say “oh I didn’t see him wear a seat belt”. Then search your car because then he has the right to. Why is it that they can now say it is not a law to wear a helmet?

I now know of two people who were in car accidents & if they were wearing their seat belts they would not be here right now. If you are in a side end collision & you have your seatbelt on most likely you will be completely crushed by your seatbelt. The bullshit thing that happened to a friend of mine who wasn’t wearing his seat belt. When he was in the hospital, after the doctors told him if he had his belt on he would of been killed. The cops then came in a couple of days later to fill out the report & issued him a ticket for not wearing a seat belt that would of killed him!

They don’t care about your safety they care about their payday!!

ToySouljah says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Florida

“The only reason that it is a law, is so a cop can & will pull you for no apparent reason and they can then say “oh I didn’t see him wear a seat belt”. Then search your car because then he has the right to.”

I agree with you about the seatbelt “law” being revoked, but at no time does a cop have the “right” to search your vehicle for you not wearing a seatbelt. They may tell you they can, but the 4th Amendment to the US Constitution states:

“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

A vehicle is considered a personal effect (belonging) meaning you own it. So therefore the cop has NO RIGHT to search it unless you have something illegal in plain sight. The cop legally has to obtain a warrant stating what he is to search…most will not even bother since it takes time and paperwork needs to be filled out. So know and practice your rights or else they will continue to take them away for the sake of “safety” 🙂

BTR1701 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Florida

> you can’t say that just because ‘some’ passengers
> would have been bettter off without a seatbealt
> that you should remove the seatbelt law. These
> REALLY do save lives

Lots of things would “save lives”. Reducing the speed limit everywhere to 10 mph would save lives. Hell, banning motor vehicles all together would save lives. But we don’t do that? Why? Because as callous as it sounds, we’ve decided that the benefit to society of having cars and trucks outweighs the cost of those lives that are lost as a result.

All of life is a cost/benefit risk analysis. We make choices everyday that risk our lives for some perceived benefit.

The thing about seatbelt laws and helmet laws and all other similar nanny-state laws is that removes that decision from me, where it belongs, and gives it to the government. When I vote on election day, I’m not voting for some big-government super-parent to watch out for me and pass laws forcing me to do things for my own good. I’m a grown adult and I can make decisions about my own safety on my own, thank you very much; government bureaucrats in Washington don’t know any better what’s good for me than I do and there’s no reason their judgment should supersede mine.

I was choosing to wear my seatbelt long before the government told me I had to. That’s not the point. The point is, it’s not the proper function of government to force to wear it in the first place.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Florida

The cost of wearing a seatbelt is zero. The benifit of wearing it is a lower chance of dying or suffering serious injury. Looks like a pretty easy cost-benifit analysis to me.

Your choice: you’re involved in an accident which is your fault, and the other party sustains permanent brain injury which could be prevented by wearing a belt. Would you like the guilt, or if you’re totally calous the litigation, if they decided not to wear one?

BTR1701 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Florida

> The cost of wearing a seatbelt is zero. The benifit of wearing
> it is a lower chance of dying or suffering serious injury. Looks
> like a pretty easy cost-benifit analysis to me.

Not the point. The point is that it’s *my* right to do that analysis and make these decisions for myself. Not some big-government elitist who thinks he/she knows what’s better for me than I do.

> Your choice: you’re involved in an accident which is your fault,
> and the other party sustains permanent brain injury which
> could be prevented by wearing a belt. Would you like the guilt,
> or if you’re totally calous the litigation, if they decided not to
> wear one?

If they decided not to wear a seatbelt, why would I feel guilty about that? They made the choice, they ran the risk, and they suffered the consequences of their actions. How is that something I need to feel guilty about? And how did alleviating peoples’ guilt becomes a proper use of government power?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Florida

Helmets are more of a gray area than seatbelts. For one thing, there are far fewer actual statistics gathered. Also, the design of most helmets cuts vision and hearing of the wearer who might otherwise avoid the accident. The extra weight on the head makes certain types of accidents much harder on the neck, leading to severe sprain, broken vertebrae, paralysis, or even death. Many accidents that would kill or permanently injure someone without a helmet would be just as dangerous with a helmet.

In certain situations, a helmet will save a motorcyclist’s life. In others, it causes more harm. It only protects from one type of injury, albeit an important one. Compare that to seatbealts, which only endanger you if you can’t get it unbuckled while the car is on fire or immersed in water (or another liquid) or when it’s worn improperly. Since you can cut a belt with a knife and special seat belt cutters are available on the market (I keep them in my vehicles), those aren’t very strong arguments against them.

kDiddle says:

You’re saying the red light camera causes more accidents? I fully agree that shortening the yellow is despicable, but if people took the yellow light as it’s meant, a signal to stop, instead of a signal to hammer on the gas and try and shave 8 seconds off their drive home, there would be far fewer accidents from them slamming on the brakes to avoid a ticket at the last second.

SomeGuy says:

Re: Re:

So, the problem is that there is a point in time and space where the light changes yellow and you are a hazard if you do not continue through. If you slam on your brakes to avoid going through a yellow for fear of being caught by an unthinking camera with no situational awareness, you endanger yourself and others. Shortening the length of a yellow light increases the frequency that this hazardous situation comes up, and not having a pause where *everyone* is red means that it’s more likely someone’s in the intersection when it’s your “turn” to go.

Add the pause, lengthen the yellow, kill the cameras.

The Truth Beacon says:

Re: (comment by kDiddle)

You haven’t ever driven, nor have you properly learned to drive, have you kDiddle?

First, the only lights you will EVER run into that are only 8 second stops, are the ones that go red, then proceed to turn green right after. There is a legal MINIMUM time of 15 seconds for a green light, and 3 seconds for a red – that alone is 18 – more than twice what you said. Further – there are many lights in high traffic areas where your wait can be as long as 10 minutes if you are in the minor traffic lanes (10 minutes being the maximum.) So you may theoretically cost someone their life (a lot can happen in 10 minutes) if you force them to stop on a yellow light.

Second, yellow DOES NOT MEAN STOP! It means caution – and in the case of traffic lights, it means Caution, a Red light is coming, prepare to stop. It’s there to warn you that you need to stop, but if you can’t safely stop then get through now.

Stopping at a yellow is the act of an inconsiderate idiot, unless you can’t get through the intersection before it turns red. But I bet you think it’s perfectly okay to be in the middle of an intersection after it’s red, because it was green when you entered.

BTR1701 (profile) says:

Re: Re: (comment by kDiddle)

> But I bet you think it’s perfectly okay to be
> in the middle of an intersection after it’s red,
> because it was green when you entered.

That’s actually the law where I live. The transportation code explicitly says that if a vehicle enters and intersection legally (i.e. on a green or a yellow), then it’s entitled to leave the intersection legally (even if the light has since turned red).

Etobian says:

Re: Re: Re: (comment by kDiddle)

If it’s not OK to be in the middle of the intersection after it’s red because it was green when you entered, then how do you handle “left-turn traps”, where your direction goes red but the oncoming direction is still green? And suppose you were just visiting in Massachusetts, where you didn’t know the trap existed and where there were no warning signs?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: (comment by The Truth Beacon)

There is two aspects to traffic law… Basic traffic law, which is nationwide and everything else, which is legislated at the state/local level.

Your “minimums” are not included in basic traffic law, and are probably set by your state. In my state, I can think of at least two lights where the green is _much_ shorter than 15 seconds. I drive like I have a top fuel dragster, yet I have barely gotten across the intersection before the yellow kicked in at times.

Also, basic traffic law says that you can enter an intersection on a green or yellow, as long as you can safely get completely through the intersection. You _can_ be in the intersection while the light is red, however, you must have broken the plane of the intersection before the light turned red. In my state, it’s a ticket if you gun the engine on yellow, but you can cruise through as late as you wish if you are slowing or maintaining speed.

Suprisingly, you can also get a ticket for disobeying a green light. Even if the light turns green, you cannot ente r the intersection until all the other vehicles have exited. It is generally also a violation to stay stopped at a green light…

Back on subject, someone asked, ‘so what if they cut the yellow shorter’… well, lets say they cut the light to .25 seconds… that’s barely within some people’s reaction time, let alone time enough to stop.

BKNJ

kDiddle says:

Re: Re: (comment by kDiddle)

Obviously I was exaggerating with the whole 8 seconds timeline, I generally get frustrated with how everyone on the road always seems to be rushing for tiny gains. That’s why I moved away from the city.

I agree a lot can happen in 10 minutes, but if you’re talking about circumstantial events, it could as easily save a persons life by keeping them out of the 15 car pile up (or any type of event) as it could cost them their life. If you mean someone’s dying in the car or something like that, by all means pull out all the stops.

As for yellow, I agree there too, mostly. Yellow means stop if you are able to, at least in the laws where I am (might be slight variation Canada/US). The problem comes with human nature, and that a lot of people won’t try stopping at all until they see red, have to slam on the brakes, and the person behind them was following too close, going to fast, and there’s an accident. Yellow gives plenty of time to stop, even with reasonable speeding. In utopia, it all works brilliantly. Too bad we’re all flawed, camera or no camera.

The Jung says:

Re: Re: (comment by kDiddle)

“But I bet you think it’s perfectly okay to be in the middle of an intersection after it’s red, because it was green when you entered.”

It IS ok to be in the intersection after it’s red, so long as you cleared the invisible line connecting the sidewalks. I say that line, because the original line (the one you have to stop at if you were to stop) was being fudged so that cities can make more money off of red light violations. Oh hey, I wonder why that sounded familiar.

Mark Richards says:

Re: Red light cameras cause accidents

KDiddle,

Yellow lights are not an indication to stop. They are simply an indication that the light is going to change and that people should make a judgement about proceeding accordingly. If you are very close to the light and would need to slam on the brakes to stop (thus causing a rear end collision), then proceeding through the intersection is the correct choice. If you are far away then stopping is the correct choice.

People will always misjudge lights. Sometimes the yellow is shorter or longer than expected (there are supposed to be formulas for setting the duration but it seems rare that anyone uses them- Predictability is the best way to prevent accidents). Sometimes people just misjudge their speed or the distance to the light. It should not be a big deal and a slightly longer yellow and a pause between yellow and subsequent green for the cross street would all reduce collisions even further.

The problem is that when you put a camera at a light, people don’t make sensible judgements about their speed and distance from the light. They do what you seem to think people at a yellow should do- slam on their brakes to make sure they don’t get a ticket. The problem is the person behind them, who may not have known their was a camera and was using their judgment- suddenly rear ends the person in front of them because they weren’t expecting them to stop like a maniac.

Red light cameras do nothing to stop drunk drivers (unlike an officer who can actually pull the person over) and so I have no idea who or what they are protecting everyone else from.

Peter Hutnick says:

Re: I Don't Understand Yellow Lights

Wrong. The yellow indicates that the light is about to turn red. The intention is for the motorist to stop if he can do so safely, otherwise proceed. Red means stop, yellow is a warning. This seems rather elementary.

I live in Colorado. Here’s the relevant statute [42-4-603(1)(b)(I)]:

Vehicular traffic facing a steady circular yellow or yellow arrow signal is thereby warned that the related green movement is being terminated or that a red indication will be exhibited immediately thereafter.

As you can see, there’s nothing in there about stopping.

-Peter

dfjkl says:

Re: Re: I Don't Understand Yellow Lights

No…you are wrong. You obviously did not read the sensible argument you responded to. Citing a statute does not equal “proof” when you consider the whole point of the article is showing us that those very statutes are being used for profitability purposes and actually ignoring the true safety concerns. Stop being naive. Any sensible driving course actually tells you that if you will cause a danger by making a sudden stop, it is better practice to continue, EVEN IF IT MEANS going through a red light. I’ve heard that from the mouth of traffic officers and trainers that were not only in the game for $$$$ or bonus “quota points” (oh…I’m sorry, there is no quota…the “minimum requirement standard” then).

Wayne says:

Re: Re:

I totally disagree.

Where I live the lights change so fast that if the light turns yellow while you are in the middle of the intersection you cannot get to the other side before it turns red.

It’s not about trying to cross once the light turns yellow, I’m referring to the light being green when you begin to cross then going through yellow so fast it’s red before you are to the other side of the intersection.

dualboot says:

Re: kDiddle

Yes, it could cause more accidents. If the yellow light is too short for you to make a safe stop (I’ve encountered some of these) then you either zoom through, or slam on your brakes. And if you’re used to a 10-second yellow, and get a 5-second yellow, you might physically be too close to the light by the time it turns yellow to stop before it turns red. Also… I somehow doubt that the people speeding up to get through the yellow are the same people slamming on their brakes. Especially since (where I live, anyway), you can get a ticket for accellerating through an amber light. If they’re avoiding the ticket, they’re not speeding up to begin with, but they still might have to slam on their brakes.

I’ll be honest… I’ve run a red light before. I had a dishwasher in the back of my SUV, and thought if I stopped quickly enough at an intersection with a short yellow… I might be crushed by the heavy dishwasher sliding forward into me. I can definitely see how purposely shortening the yellows could cause accidents, even within one vehicle if they don’t get rear-ended. You want those 2×4’s you’re hauling home to crash through your front window because you had to slam on the brakes at a short yellow?

Kevin says:

Re: Going faster for yellow lights

It’s more like the time lost can be up to 2-3 minutes per stoplight, besides having to spend time just accelerating back up to the previously held velocity traveled at, & the fuel for reaccelerating back up to 40-50 MPH depending on the area/road traveling on. It’s not just a mere 30-60 seconds total even. If someone has to stop at numerous stoplights, for lights that may only stay green for a very short period with an equally short yellow is why some people do it, not that i’m condoning the behavior however.

KPemberton (user link) says:

Re: Re:

I wish it was a simple as drivers trying to make it home 8 seconds earlier. The sad truth is the fed guideline recommends a city try longer light timing before going to camera enforcement, But the standard for cities and towns is to reduce timing in favor of more ticket revenue. This in turn has made the stats show more rear end collisions at lights with cameras. You don’t have to take my word read this discussion
( http://knowledge.fhwa.dot.gov/cops/opspublic.nsf/discussionDisplay?Open&id=7CFB51E04C66D8668525705800461560&Group=Signs&tab=DISCUSSION )

One engineer has suggested that no matter what the speed limit may be set at, the minimum timing speed of 3 seconds is more appropriate for 25mph and slowing to that speed when coming up to a light with camera is the only safe way to approach.

Following that advice will increase road rage and also increase accidents. How can we win when the debate is about big brother wanting more of our money? (Fairly or not)

My Suggestions:

1) use a video recorder to time lights on the route you normally take. determine what intersections are timed at unsafe timing.
2)let the BBB know you will not spend your money at local stores to those lights.( best way to get the city involved with safe engineering practice)
3)Change your route to avoid camera intersections.

Seem like a lot of work? Slow down when approaching intersections that you know have cameras! There really is a zone on shortened lights where you can’t continue without running the light and you can’t stop safely. With that information the only safe way to drive in this day of cash cows is sloooow. My bet is your city is looking at the camera business as a cash cow, forget safety, even accidents rake in fines.

Texas says:

This shortening of yellow light timing and the increased danger it causes, is a growing news story. Most of the car magazines are onto it, and the National Motorist Association (www.motorist.org) of which I am a member, is actively trying to get action on this issue. Local givernments who put their citizens at demonstrable risk to make money should be ashamed, and potentially prosecuted.

Tina says:

Re: shortening of yellow lights.

Texas, you are assuming that Governments have a moral side to be ashamed of in the first place. They have absolutely no motive other than filling their coffers for anything they do. Any legislation that is enacted comes about only to reduce the power of the people and to fleece them of their hard earned money at the same time. How else are they going to pay for their wages.

Perhaps when people start realizing that the Government is not the good guy, they will start to wake up to themselves and make sure that they, the people, will stop giving more power to the government. What is shameful is that people still think that the government is there for their good. Talk about naive…

Alimas says:

No Pause?

I thought that would have been standard. My city’s lights have a 2-second pause between one set of lights goes red and the corresponding ones turn green. In a moving vehicle, its a surprisingly substantial amount of time, and I’ve seen it play out for the benefit time and again.
The accidents and traffic jams not having that would make must suck.

TheDock22 says:

Who really profits?

I know the cities profit some from the red light cameras, but I though the majority of the money goes back to the manufacturer of the red light cameras.

Decreasing yellow light time is a horrible thing for those cities to do. If I lived there I would definitely start a petition to get some people fired and those cameras taken down.

Aaron says:

Re: Re: News?

“News serves the perpose of informing.”

I think that’s an overly broad definition of “news”. If I wrote an article about the Battle of Gettysburg, it would likely be informative, but certainly not news.

My concern is that this item will upset people because they think that all of the sudden 6 cities were caught doing something wrong. In fact, this is simply a congolmeration of old news stories that are not in and of themselves news.

ZeTron says:

Re: Re: Re: News?

“News serves the purpose of informing”… with a recent event or current happenings.

So, Aaron (no last name) This is still going on, it’s getting worse and it is extremely newsworthy.

I cant wait for an large newswire expose detailing the shady contracts and deals these red light companies work out with local towns and counties. It’s all about the money… Installing red light cameras is like getting a monopoly on board walk, you win, everyone else looses…

Bob says:

This wouldnt be a problem at all if assholes didnt always try to run yellow lights. As soon as that light turns yellow it means SLOW DOWN, not punch the gas to get through before it turns red. The yellow light wouldnt need to be more than 1 second if people werent always too damn lazy to wait for the light to turn green again. Id love to see this go into effect everywhere. Its bad enough there is always 2 or 3 assholes that make a left after the light turns red because they are too lazy to wait for 1 or 2 more light cycles to go.

SomeGuy says:

Re: Re:

As noted above, there’s a point where the light turns yellow and you do not have the requisite time and space to stop properly. It’s not always about being a jerk, sometimes it’s about physics. Lengthening the yellow and adding a pause gives people the time they need to react appropriately to the situation. Adding red light cameras introduces a zero-tolerance factor which encourages people to err on the side of stopping short and sudden rather than risk a ticket, and that’s dangerous.

Jim says:

Re: You can not change the law of Physics, Captain!

What is the time to stop a car going the speed limit? s feet
What is the reaction time at that speed? r feet
What is a safety margin for indecision? m feet
How wide is the intersection? w feet
Now compare the time to travel that distance (total=s+r+m+w) to the length of the yellow light.
if yellow > safety then SUE city.

Rose M. Welch says:

Re: Re:

That’s not true at all. Yellow means proceed with cuation. It’s a signal that the light will soon change. By your reasoning, everyone should stop, no matter what, even if it leaves them in the middle of an intersection. You seem to assume that drivers can stop in an instant but they cannot. Vans and trucks take many, many feet to come to a complete stop, even if they slam on thier brakes.

It’s not always possible for a driver to slam on his brakes and stop at the line when the light turns yellow, and that is not the intention. It simply lets drivers who can’t stop know to hurry it up, and it lets drivers who can stop know to slow down.

Anonymous Coward says:

I think a bigger problem is lack of standardization on traffic light timing. Where I live, some stoplights switch back and forth about every 30 seconds, and some lights make you sit for at least 3-4 minutes. This is ridiculous, and I’m sure it confuses people, especially when they’re dealing with unfamiliar stoplights.

I also agree that often yellow lights need to be longer than they are. Some lights are fine, and others are way too short (again, lack of standardization). Of course, there should be some variance based on the speed limit of the road the light is on. A 55-mph highway would need a longer yellow light than a 30-mph one would.

BUT, I disagree with the argument that slamming on the brakes for a yellow light endangers others. Driving is dangerous, period. Every licensed driver goes through a training course where defensive driving and careful observation are highly stressed (or at least, they should be, dunno what the quality of driver’s ed is these days). Everybody on the road is responsible for themselves and their own vehicle. If you are following somebody so close that you will rear-end them if they stop quickly on a yellow light, then you deserve to be in a wreck, because you are not being a responsible driver. The danger for rear-ending other vehicles is always present, and I don’t honestly think a shorter yellow light will make it any more dangerous. The problem is lack of responsibility on the driver’s part by not driving defensively and being in full control of their vehicle.

But on the flipside, shortening yellow lights to increase revenue from red light cameras is absolutely despicable, and the cities doing it need to be punished severely. I understand the need for city revenue, but setting up situations that trick people into committing crimes shows that the government is ethically and morally bankrupt. It’s true, our society has become one completely obsessed with greed and profit, and some people will stop at nothing to achieve profit, no matter who they have to stomp on to get there. We’ve also become a society that believes no individual is responsible for his own actions, which ties right into this whole picture as well. I wish I could say there’s an easy fix to this, but there isn’t.

SomeGuy says:

Re: Re:

First, unfortunately, most drivers are not properly trained before they’re given a liscence. My little cousin just recently recieved his (full, unrestricted) liscence and after seeing him drive I assure you I won’t be riding with him for at least a couple years yet.

Second, unfortunately, though all drivers SHOULD be responsible for themselves and their vehicles, many are not. The most common example is kids who are driving their parents’ cars, but some people are just plain irresponsible.

Finally, as I’ve noted above, physics matters. For easy numbers, lets say that I can stop my car in about 20ft of space; the numbers aren’t important, it’s just demonstration. If I see a yellow at 20ft I’m fine — UNLESS you decide you need to stop at that yellow instead of proceed through. Now I have, we’ll say, 12ft of space. I can not stop my car normally; I can either stop short in response or hit you. If *I* stop short, the guy behind ME is now endangered because his stopping zone is smaller. If I hit you, was it because I was an irresponsible driver or you were? (I’m not talking about who’s legally culpable, as we all know the guy in back gets the blame in all rear-end accidents.)

Rose M. Welch says:

Re: Re: Re:

If you need twenty feet to stop (for example), you should always be at least twenty-one feet away from the vehicle in front of you while moving. End of story.

However, speed makes a difference in stopping distance. If you’re in slow traffic going twenty-five miles per hours, you may only need ten feet to stop, so stay that far away, etc.

People who slam on brakes do not cause accidents. People who fail to understand how to drive the vehicle they’re in and continue to drive anyway cause accidents.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

If you are following somebody so close that you will rear-end them if they stop quickly on a yellow light, then you deserve to be in a wreck, because you are not being a responsible driver.

What an asinine statement. No, people do not “deserve” to be in wrecks. People, be they drivers or passengers, do not “deserve” to die to satisfy your warped sense of justice.

dfjkl says:

Re: Anonymous Coward on Apr 11th, 2008 @ 7:41am

You are wrong. It is irresponsible, malicious, and arrogant of those who would create a dangerous situation by slamming on their breaks rather than taking into account their overall situation. I’m guessing you are also one of those that are in league with that same irresponsible behavior and just cutting out in front of other people or driving slower than posted limits and slamming on your breaks for “fun and profit.” There should rarely ever be a need to “slam on the breaks” in driving if you have a clue…and someone creating that situation at a stop light merely to avoid a ticket….or the state gov’t tricking someone into that choice due to poor light timing, are all reprehensible.

asdf says:

One of the arguements is that if people were driving the speed limit they would have plenty of time to slow and stop at a yellow light. You know what else? If we all donated 1 can of food we could feed everyone in africa. NOT GOING TO HAPPEN. They need to look at reality, 99% of people speed, even if its 5 miles over. They need to do some sort of standardizing, or my idea I always liked was, have a visual timer above or next to the light so you can see when its going to change. Sort of like those crosswalk timers.

Jeremy says:

Re: Re:

I agree totally, a countdown timer would help tremendously.

Also, I see both sides of the slam on the brakes problem. I was in a situation the other day where I was coming throug an intersection with the cameras and the light went yellow. At any other intersection, I would have continued through, it swith right at the point where the decision to go or stop is tough to make. I started to go, then realized there was a camera at the intersection and slammed on the brakes, almost out of instinct.

Now, if someone would have hit me, it technically would/should have been their fault for failing to ‘maintain assured clear distance’ but if the camera wouldn’t have been there, I’m sure I would have cleared the intersection well before the other light turned green and there would have been no possibility of an issue in the first place.

On the other hand, you could be driving down any road and have something unexpected cause you to slam on the brakes anywhere, think animals/children, if somebody rear ends you there, it’s their fault, plain & simple.

I think everybody agrees that the cities intentionally causing an intersection to be more dangerous is deplorable behavior. Anyone responsible for making this decision should be prosecuted for endangering public safety, whether or not any accident occured as a result of the change.

Just about every city in America is facing financial challenges right now, but this amounts to theft and criminal mischief as far as I’m concerned.

And yes, it should be BIG news that this is happening!!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Jeremy’s right…

Quote:
I agree totally, a countdown timer would help tremendously.

Also, I see both sides of the slam on the brakes problem. I was in a situation the other day where I was coming throug an intersection with the cameras and the light went yellow. At any other intersection, I would have continued through, it swith right at the point where the decision to go or stop is tough to make. I started to go, then realized there was a camera at the intersection and slammed on the brakes, almost out of instinct.

Now, if someone would have hit me, it technically would/should have been their fault for failing to ‘maintain assured clear distance’ but if the camera wouldn’t have been there, I’m sure I would have cleared the intersection well before the other light turned green and there would have been no possibility of an issue in the first place.

On the other hand, you could be driving down any road and have something unexpected cause you to slam on the brakes anywhere, think animals/children, if somebody rear ends you there, it’s their fault, plain & simple.

I think everybody agrees that the cities intentionally causing an intersection to be more dangerous is deplorable behavior. Anyone responsible for making this decision should be prosecuted for endangering public safety, whether or not any accident occured as a result of the change.

Just about every city in America is facing financial challenges right now, but this amounts to theft and criminal mischief as far as I’m concerned.

And yes, it should be BIG news that this is happening!!

John Duncan Yoyo (profile) says:

Re: Re:

The minimum length of the yellow light should be based on the posted speed of the road with a possible fudge factor added for roads that get driven faster than that speed limit.

If a violation is found all tickets since the last valid inspection should be refunded by the camera operator. In the event of an outside firm operating a camera system the collected fines are still paid to the municipality. That is a 200% penalty on an outside operator.

Rusty Shackleford says:

Its been going on for as long as the lights have been around

The providers of our red light system were caught doing this quite a few years back.. and talking about standardizing the lights is a good idea… we have one I personally waited for more that ten minutes at 400 am on a barely used road… o cars passed for the entire time… but you can bet there is a cop waiting for me to run the light that was making me late for work as bad as if it was a train

Chronno S. Trigger says:

Re: Its been going on for as long as the lights have been around

There’s a light by where I live, after 2:00am that light douse not turn green. I sat there for about 15min before running it. (no it wasn’t a blinking red)

That same light now has a yellow so short that if you blink you’ll miss it. I was driving down that road, actually going the speed limit since I know the cop around there is a dick. I looked at the light and it was green. I was about 50ft from the intersection. I blinked and the light was red. I drive a Jeep. It can’t stop that fast. The real funny thing is, we don’t have those cameras.

WonderinBear says:

Can we say Class Action

Lowering or shortening traffic signal time below the legal limit may be constued as fraud and potenally purjury. Most traffic vioations are minor criminal offences, if the prosecutor new of the unlawful act of the city and filed anyway they may be laible as well under civil rights law. Things like this cost the piblic more than just a fine, it also may increase your insurance rates etc. It is simply gov’t falsifing charges for profit

BTR1701 (profile) says:

Re: Can we say Class Action

> Lowering or shortening traffic signal time
> below the legal limit may be constued as
> fraud and potenally purjury.

How in the hell could altering the length of a yellow light meet the elements of perjury? Perjury is lying about a material fact while under oath or other cumpulsory legal process. It has nothing to do with traffic lights.

Jake says:

The one problem with standardisation is that no two junctions are ever quite the same in terms of traffic flow, and can even vary within the same day; what works for a relatively quiet intersection may lead to dangerously heavy congestion and end up provoking drivers into running reds at a more crowded location or time. Enforcing the same minimum standards across the entire country does make sense, though.

aUScitizen says:

Look at the communist states of Virginia & Ohio

Where were the other 5 citys?
Noone should be suprised by this.Citys & states in this country think they can do anything they damn well please.
The town I live in there have been several shootings by police where everyone in town knew the police would be found at fault but are found to be justified.In at least one instance the police claimed the victem had taken his gun so he shot & killed the (unarmed) man in his back yard with his second gun.The cops service revolver was found inside the house nowhere near the victem.The shooting was found to be justified.
As for fines & such the laws are set up specifically to collect revenue.These citys & states could care less about your safty,even the ones not cheating.
Look at the communist states of Virginia & Ohio.Hell in Ohio the state police even wear little Nazi uniforms.
Virginia is becoming more communist than the USSR was.
Most of these city & state politicians see these extorted funds from you & I as a way to hide the loss of revenue from what they have embezzled from us the tax payers.
These people work for you the tax payer!From the Mayor down to the street cop!If they continue to engage in this elegal activity fire them!

Nick says:

Drivers License

“These cities are actively putting more people in danger of serious injury or death solely for the sake of raising revenue”

This applies to a drivers license as well. I can’t speak for other states, but Ohio’s driving “test”, both the written and in car, is pathetic. It’s sad how simple it is, and it’s done this way to maximize the number of people paying for a license and creating the largest pool of people potentially buying a car and thus tags. This low standard for driving ability is a safety risk for everyone on the road, but is done to make sure the state collects as much money via the DMV as possible.

Thirsty Thetan (profile) says:

Eliminate traffic lights entirely

We should think about adopting roundabouts, such as are commonly found in Europe. Granted, it would be a learning curve for most folks, but there are a few instances in the US where they work, and work quite well.

No traffic lights and, therefore, no red-light cameras to extort money from the public.

TT

SomeGuy says:

Re: Eliminate traffic lights entirely

American’s don’t understand how to merge onto the highway, and we’ve been doing that for AGES. Round-abouts are problematic and will remain to be so. I’ve even seen some American cities put traffic lights up IN round-abouts because of this.

It’s a nice idea, and I agree that if we trained good drivers it would probably help out a lot. I just don’t see it (round-abouts or better training) happening any time soon.

Another Coward says:

the other 5 cities are:

The cities in question include Union City, CA, Dallas and Lubbock, TX, Nashville and Chattanooga, TN, Springfield, MO, according to Motorists.org, which collected information from reports from around the country. This isn’t the first time traffic cameras have been questioned as to their effectiveness in preventing accidents. In one case, the local government was forced to issue refunds by more than $1 million to motorists who were issued tickets for running red lights.

http://www.leftlanenews.com/six-us-cities-tamper-with-traffic-cameras-for-profit.html

Duke of Doubt says:

Source, please

Can anyone provide a real source for this information? The best I’m finding here is the National Motorists Association “which collected information from reports from around the country.” I can’t find the story on their site, which itself looks like a front for sending business to lawyers who will fight your ticket in court.

grubs says:

Fines

How often is there a red light accident with someone intentionally running the red light? Isn’t most of these accidents caused by someone not noticing a red light that has been red for a while? This would make ticketing and fining for running red lights non productive in decreasing accidents. Are these camera’s actually installed where there has been a problem with accidents due to running of red lights? I suspect a study of the placements with the before and after accident statistics would be enlightening.

I’ve often thought that fines should be prohibited from going directly to the city or agency imposing them. There is way too much incentive for overzealousness. If there is truly a safety issue, there will be enough of an incentive to address it without making money. Recovering costs is one thing, but the remainder of the fines should be directed elsewhere. This applies whether or not its automated.

A better option would be to create a state/federal fund that is redistributed without using fines imposed as a measure. You could even have the fine go to the 501c of choice. Just about every area has a small village that uses ticketing through traffic as a revenue source. Removing the financial incentive would put an end to this tactic.

Ohio’s test may be easy, but people still fail it. That’s kind of scary. I don’t have too much issue with the license costs. Roads aren’t free.

Ropinlizard says:

--Roundabouts, Stoplights, and Drivers Education--

Germany has the best driver education in the world…and the lowest accident rate! If we just trained our drivers to DRIVE that would help allot!

It still does not make the HORRIBLE actions of these cities acceptable under ANY circumstances! “We the people” not “We the government” They are supposed to be normal people who take TEMPORARY jobs as PUBLIC SERVANTS!!!!! not wh#%re themselves out for money!!!
Disgusting

Anonymous Coward says:

seatbelts not as invasive as helmets

I’m not going to argue that seat belts will never cause harm, there is always the possiblity someone would be thrown clear in a collision and avoid a fire, etc. In general with modern cars (Very strong cage around occupants with side impact beams and airbags) the seat belts absolutely improve safety.

So do Helmets, but wearing a large heavy hot helmet when it is 100 degrees outside is far worse than a belt across your lap and shoulder.

I wear a seat belt in the back seat of vehicles when not required by law, and you should at least consider it.

Traffictek (profile) says:

Red Light Cameras & Signal Timing

Laws concerning traffic signal timing vary among states. Most take the data from the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD){http://mutcd.fhwa.dot.gov/} and from the ITE (Institute of Transportation Engineers). Yellow timing (Yellow Change Interval) is based on the approach speed and it sets the yellow time to allow drivers to decide if a safe stop can be made. The all Red time (Red Clearance) is still optional but “allowed”. This is about to be changed to “recommended”. When a light turns green, It gives drivers permission to proceed once the intersection is clear! NEVER enter an intersection without knowing that someone isn’t coming at you. That’s just dumb. Changing timing because of a red light camera is is still very wrong! More info: http://www.ite.org/safety/rlr.asp

Bruiser says:

in my neck of the woods the STATE law requires 1 sec. of yellow for each 10 mph. of the speed limit. we have those damn camers now too and have informed all of my friends who inform their friends ect. of the law. 12 tickets have been dismissed and suits filed to recover court costs. the irony?…..they still have not changed the lights to the state law 1 sec. per 10 mph. not enough people know about it yet. At 60 mph you have 6 sec. to react to the light and thats fair in my book. can’t wait till the pokey gets on my bumper at that light. SLAM the BRAKES! and hope you survive.

Alex says:

Unfair Taxes

Attempting to up the revenue of a city by using fines is just another form of taxation. Fines that are levied at a flat rate for all citizens become just an annoyance for those who can easily afford them but potentially could harm a family living paycheck to paycheck. Now I’m not going to say get rid of giving tickets to people who run red lights or speed 55 though a residential neighborhood but can we please start using the resources to protect instead of covering the budget.

What I would personally like to see is if we could get fines changed from cash to community service. At least at that level we’d all be giving up the same thing, our time. Instead of some of us giving up a night on the town vs some giving up a weeks grocery bill.

Ron Bennett says:

To those mentioning about waiting many minutes for a green light

A couple of posters here mentioned waiting many minutes for a green light. The most likely reason is their car wasn’t detected by the traffic sensor…

Many people don’t realize that many lights are triggered by sensors, most of which are triggered by the presence of large concentrations of metal, such as a car.

Two things to greatly improve the odds of the light changing to green in a timely manner:

1. Stop completely prior to the stopbar (the white line).

2. After about 20 seconds, if nothing seems to be happening, inch the car forward very slightly (several inches or so), and repeat a couple of times every 20 seconds or so.

If still no green after 2 minutes, *assuming* no traffic signal activity on any side of the intersection, then it’s likely legally ok to go through it.

Most states, such as Pennsylvania, try to limit the duration of a traffic signal to no more than 1 minute per side; 2 minutes or so maximum for a complete cycle. But that’s PA … many states tolerate much longer cycle times – I’ve seen some traffic cycles, especially in Florida take nearly 5 minutes to complete.

Ron

Jeff says:

Re: To those mentioning about waiting many minutes for a green light

So let me get this straight – you’re saying, first, that all light timing is controlled exclusively by sensors and not by timers? I can assure you that in the Chicagoland area this is not the case. I can name a dozen or so intersections where lights routinely turn red even though no opposing traffic is waiting, and don’t turn green again for a fixed period of time. Second, you’re saying that if it still hasn’t changed within a few minutes it’s OK to just go (as in, run the red light)?

tubes says:

Re: To those mentioning about waiting many minutes for a green light

Here in Ohio (which isn’t much different than PA) it is plain as day which intersections have the triggering sensors. There is usually an area in the asphalt, before the white line where you should stop, there is a large rectangle (about the size of a small car) cutout in the road. The sensors are usually placed at busier intersections & they are usually the same intersections where pedestrians can push the button to cross in the crosswalk.

RS says:

yellow light time

Any judge that fails to notify a person accused of disobeying a yellow light of the federally mandated minimum yellow time — I had no idea the Federal had mandated that time — should be forced to retract the ticket and all consequences of the ticket. If the yellow of the light in question is too short (by the Federal standard), the accused person should get all of the above plus at least $1000 form the community in question for the trouble.

JD says:

Just today

I just left my house and as I approached the first light, (on a 30 mph, two lane, residential but very busy road) it turned yellow, so I slowed down and stopped right on the line after it had turned red. The Masshole behind me (yes I live in Mass), ran up behind me and crossed the double yellow line all the way into the oncoming lane to blow though the red light. WTG Mr. Masshole.

And I wish people learned/obeyed the right turn on red AFTER STOPPING law. It can be scary to be turning left on a green light and having people coming from the left, making right had turns, blowing through the red light without slowimg down. A cop could write tickets for that all day long at any intersection in Mass with a light or Stop sign.

Ted says:

Red Light Camera Training

I can personally attest to a situation where being trained by red light cameras to hit the brakes when approaching a yellow/red almost caused an accident.

It was raining, not too hard, I was coming down a hill in the leftmost lane, and very much not speeding. Light changes with about 150 feet to go, I instinctively hit the brakes… and instead of stopping, the wheels lock and I start hydroplaning into the next lane over, where another car already is.

A tense couple of seconds where I let off the brakes, correct and steer with a few feet to spare, thanks to training from an emergency driving course. However, I can see a situation where someone similarly conditioned to just plain STOP would have corrected too late to stop sliding (thanks to water and gravity).

It is a problem because I’ve seen really LONG yellows, and realy SHORT yellows, and with the number of cameras around, you really don’t want to be taking any chances, so the reaction becomes hardwired out of habit.

Peter says:

Most people don’t drive much in Germany, due to the costs (Gas, Parking, Car). Almost everyone uses public transportation. This changes the statistics on accidents.

I have driven in Europe, especially Germany. I can tell you that they have better training and follow all the rules to a “T” When on a highway EVERYONE is in the Right lane except when they are passing, but the move right on over once passed. They dont hang out in the left or middle lanes until they see a cop. European drivers have integrity (doing the right thing in the absence of authority) Americans DO NOT!

asdf2 says:

huge scam by the cities. they also use speed calculation devices to determine if the driver is crossing a red light, and this is by definition a “speed trap”, however, since they do not cite for speeding it cannot be contested on these grounds. The whole idea is a scam and there is a challenge for 10k that asks if anyone prove a intersection where standard engineering corrections would not suffice over red light cameras. BS BS BS

another mike says:

standards for left turns

Even across my own town, the lights are not standardized. Some lights have leading left turns and some have trailing left turns. Forget about timing, how about someone getting T-boned because they thought they were about to get a green?
There was a horrific accident here a few years back when a bigrig driver used to leading lefts saw the left arrow at a trailing left intersection. He didn’t even touch the brakes as he tore an SUV in half!

anonymous says:

they forgot San Diego

a few years back( 2001? ) a guy I know got a ticket(camera) at an intersection he very often used. He felt something was strange so he timed the light and then asked the city(San Diego) for the algorithm used to set the timing. He got the run-around but finally got the required information AFTER his court date( not an accident ). He now had proof that the yellow light timing was set below the required timing and that the timing was changed when the camera was installed. Nobody got fined or convicted for the wrong-doing but for a few years, all the red-light cameras were turned off in San Diego and only after the city signed a deal with Lockheed Martin and then handed the contract to another company, has the cameras been slowly been getting turned back on.

So they forgot to mention San Diego.

Peter says:

The length of time a traffic lights stays yellow should be 1 second for every 10 miles per hour, IN MOST STATES. Anything outside of that range and you should contact somebody.

There are two types of traffic lights. Those controlled by sensors and those controlled by timers. You see the timers at the major intersections and during off peak hours and overnight those timers may be increased or decreased.

TickedoffCowboy says:

Disgusting and Unconstitutional

This practise is sinister AND unconstitutional. The purpose of traffic law is to protect all citizens NOT for the the purpose of revenue, especially if in this specific case it can actually lead to serious harm and puts many people at risk. I am surprised that with this current informtaion not one individual has realized how their constitutional rights are being trampled on and how they are being victimized in the most disgusting way by those who have been given the responsibility to protect them.

Peter says:

The thing about seatbelt laws and helmet laws and all other similar nanny-state laws is that removes that decision from me, where it belongs, and gives it to the government. When I vote on election day, I’m not voting for some big-government super-parent to watch out for me and pass laws forcing me to do things for my own good. I’m a grown adult and I can make decisions about my own safety on my own, thank you very much; government bureaucrats in Washington don’t know any better what’s good for me than I do and there’s no reason their judgment should supersede mine.

Although I agree that it should be a choice, you can expand that to so many other things. Social Security, Why should the government help a citizen save for retirement? That should be up to the public to decide how they want to do that. I want to build 12 foot fence around my house with a moat. Who is the government to tell me what I cant do on “my property”. Who is the government to tell me how I need to build my house to code? As long as it is up to code when/if I sell what does it matter?

Alexander says:

Longer yellow won't work

It doesn’t matter how long the yellow light should be because the last car will always try to pass right before the red and when the drivers can’t do it they will stop short.
The pause between red and other side green light is ok but it won’t solve the problem of yellow light crossing.
The solution is to have yellow as full stop unless too close to the stop line. In this case only those drivers will pass whom cannot stop their cars safely.
The rule should be like: If you see yellow light stop your car safely and if you couldn’t make it behind the stop line then pass.
In this case the longer yellow light will actually work. For the red light coming after yellow there can be two options:
1- Intelligent way, turn red if cars are not passing (this makes yellow variable up to it’s maximum time)
2- Shorten the red light duration to make up for the long yellow time during which the drivers have already stopped their cars.

¿michael? (user link) says:

Red light taxation

I have for a while viewed the cameras at intersections as a form of taxation that allows government to practice irresponsibility with the tax monies received from other quarters. I have started to take the strategy when approaching a photo enforced intersection to come to a halt even though there is time to cross. Then only proceeding when the green light is new. This has the function to keep from getting a ticket and also to seize the city up that has such values of government to promote civic fear. Let force them to take the cameras down…

John (profile) says:

Reality check...

Instead of simply adjusting the length of the yellow light, why doesn’t the government look at the overall traffic pattern. (I know, it’s easier to put a “band-aid” on the issue instead of looking at the underlying cause.)

Here’s a typical example:
It’s 5pm and you’re leaving work. The road from your office meets a major road at a traffic light. You’re 10th in line to turn left onto the major road.
However, everyone else is also leaving work, so the major road is packed with traffic.

In order to keep that traffic moving, the left-turn signal is green only long enough to let 3 cars through. (This is assuming that cars in the major road have cleared the intersection. If they haven’t, then you’ll be waiting even longer… and you’ll get even more frustrated, which will cause you to want to run the yellow or red light.)
Let’s also assume that it also takes over 3 minutes for the cycle to come back around for the left-turn signal to turn green.

Cars #1-3 go through the green light. Car #4 stops at the yellow light and everyone behind him has to wait over 3 minutes. Okay, that’s not so bad.
Cars #4-6 go through the next light and car #7 also stops at the yellow light.

You’re 10th in line to turn left and you’re looking at waiting for TEN minutes simply to turn left to *start* your commute home.
If cars #4 and #7 ran the yellow light, although dangerous, it wouldn’t just save “8 seconds” (as the poster above said), it would translate into 3 or 4 or 5 minutes less wait for the rest of the cars in line.

This leads to the bigger question: why is there so much traffic in front of the office after work? What can be done to relieve it? Should people use side roads? Are there even any side roads to get out of the office complex? Or do five different office complexes empty out onto *one* side road, which then connects to the major road?

What causes the traffic to be so bad in the first place? Are other traffic lights too short? Are there too many traffic lights on the major road?

Justin says:

Flawed!

The study on which this is based is flawed. Of course if any ONE LIGHT has its yellow time lengthened, there are fewer accidents at THAT ONE light because people expect it to be shorter.

But if ALL LIGHTS have their yellow lengthened, there will be no benefit because people will learn to expect the longer yellow and push the threshold.

It’s not until people EXPECT that they will be caught AT EVERY LIGHT if they run the red that you will see there will be no accidents. Just food for thought…

K. Langley says:

Raise hands, please?

Would everyone whining here, who has any one, or combination of, the following, please raise their hands?

(a) Undergraduate degree in Transportation Engineering, or Civil Engineering with a Transportation emphasis

(b) Graduate degree, or post-graduate coursework, in Transportation Engineering, or Civil Engineering with a Transportation emphasis?

(c) F.E. (formerly, E.I.T.) certification?

(d) P.E. licensure, or, R.C.E. licensure, or R.T.E. licensure?

(e) P.T.O.E. certification from I.T.E.?

(f) Membership (Associate is okay) in I.T.E.?

(g) Practical experience in traffic engineering?

(h) Experience using Synchro, TRANSYT 7f, PASSER-II, or any other packages to analyze variations in timing plans to optimise the movement of vehicles (i.e. calculate LOS’) through intersections?

(i) Practical experience in signal design?

(j) Practial experience in developing timing plans under a variety of signal controller types, detection system types, and traffic volumes? Bonus for developing corridor plans with offsets for non-interconnected systems?

Class? Anyone? Anyone?

JD says:

K. Langley - LOL

K., who says you need any actual knowledge of the subject to participate in a forum like this?

You don’t need any actual knowledge about how to obey traffic signals to drive…

I’m surprised that people have suggested lights are on sensors OR timers. There are clearly many lights that are on both sensors AND timers – and the behavior can vary throughout the day and night.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: I wonder..

I wonder how these camers jive with the Texas law which states that if you entered the intersection when the light is green, you’re STILL LEGALLY ALLOWED to be there after the light turns red, if you are unable to proceed..

The solution to that problem is simple. All they have to do is take one photo at the instant the light turns red and then another one a moment later. If your car was caught in the second photo then the first will also show whether you had already entered the intersection before it turned red.

John says:

Traffic cams, it's all about safety

The first city in Washington State (as far as I know) to install these cams complained to the vender that they were not getting the “Return On Investment” that had been advertised. They were told to decrese the caution light time and bingo, the ROI fell into line. Remember folks, it’s all about safety.

John

Dick de Pinya says:

Red Light Camera Scam

I have spent 30+ years in traffic operations and safety.
A local city, Costa Mesa CA, stated in the paper that they have fine tuned their cameras to within 0.10 sec to ensure that they allow the legal limit of yellow time. Of course this is after getting caught shortening the yellow to make $. Since this is my business, I entered their signal on the yellow believing that I had plenty of yellow time but it turned red while I was in the intersection. Minor suprise that I received a ticked for running the red. They fixed the photo to show red on entry and not yellow. Why fight it though as the court takes the pic as irrefutable evidence. Big Brother is here and in our pockets.

Mi5F1T says:

Regression in 'values' w/regard to safety?

Having been an E/R nurse, and an EMT, I’ve seen my share of accidents and accident victims. I’ve seen first-hand how the slightest distractions and/or miscalculations can lead to devastating injuries and death at many of our cities’ major intersections. We in emergency medicine field have long speculated and discussed how changes made for “increased public safety” or as a “deterrent” (for habitual offenders?) for breaking traffic laws, indeed lent more to the cause rather than prevention of accidents at major intersections. To see that there is actually data available now that proves that the shortening of yellow light times, and the flashes involved with traffic cameras, lead to an increase in accidents, decrease in safety, and serve no purpose in generating additional revenues for the cities which employ them, is an outrage and an abomination. The people who make the decisions to implement these devices and tactics, are clearly NOT those who are sworn to do all they can to protect, serve, and heal the public subjected to them. Any change or device that will, even in the most minute ways, decrease driver safety, and cause threats to the health and well-being of all drivers, should be immediately stopped, and those responsible should be held so by a court, and punished severely for having data such as this, yet continuing these practices in spite of them. It’s sad, dissappointing, and deeply troubling that this continues & is not being addressed sooner by those cities at fault, before someone else is injured or dies. (I live in the Fort Worth area, and commute daily in Dallas/Fort Worth. Fort Worth has recently installed traffic cameras which cause a startling flash after the light changes, and are evaluating their effectiveness -supposedly- over a period of months, then will make decisions on whether or not to make them permanent….I hope that they are reading the articles and addressing these findings & data!)

Rekrul says:

What about crosswalk lights? At the local mall, the light to cross the main road, which is four lanes wide, stays on “walk” for literally about 10-15 seconds before it starts blinking. Granted, it doesn’t change until the crosswalk is clear, but it should stay on the walk indicator longer than that. I’ve seen people make right turns at this intersection not ten feet in front of people crossing.

Not to mention that while there’s a light for crossing the main road, there’s no light at all for crossing the road that leads up to the intersection, which is quite busy. There’s a crosswalk, but no light. Since I’ve developed problems with my ankle, I’m not nearly as fast as I used to be and a couple times I’ve almost gotten hit because I underestimated how long it would take me to get across. There’s also a crosswalk in the town center with no light and an almost endless stream of traffic.

Mellow Yellow says:

Is it orange yet ?

Does anyone have references to the minimum time allowed for a yellow by state ?

Some states it is 3 seconds, others it is 4.3.

I wonder if you would be questioned (hassled) by poilce for timing the yellow lights in your area. Because only a criminal (terrorist) would be interested in such data.

One would think that the state would be doing this themselves, but I would not count on it.

Anonymous Coward says:

What Minimum Yellow Time?

I’m not sure there is a legal minimum time for the light to be yellow, at least in Texas. I used to live in Tyler, Texas many years ago were sometimes a pair of motorcycle cops would set up a little trap. They would open up the light control box (they had keys) and switch it to manual control. Then they would pick out a “victim” and then just before the victim’s front bumper entered the intersection they would trigger the light to suddenly flash yellow for a fraction of a second (barely a blink, if at all) and then go to red. It was impossible to stop in time. One of the cops would then go run the victim down and ticket him for running a red light while the other continued to operate the light. They never got me but I knew people they did and when those people tried to argue in court that they didn’t have time to stop the judge would always tell them that there was no legal requirement for a yellow light of any particular length. Some hired lawyers who told them the same thing. Anyway, those tickets always stood up in court. So I don’t know where this idea about a legal minimum time for yellow comes from. It also seems to me that these red light cameras are just a modern automation of something that was going on long before.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: What Minimum Yellow Time?

“I’m not sure there is a legal minimum time for the light to be yellow,”

http://www.motorists.org/blog/red-light-cameras/6-cities-that-were-caught-shortening-yel low-light-times-for-profit/

So what was the point of posting that link? That article didn’t mention any legal minimum time for yellow lights in Texas. It linked to a couple of other articles that mentioned TxDOT recommendations, but those aren’t laws.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: What Minimum Yellow Time?

AC said:
“So what was the point of posting that link? That article didn’t mention any legal minimum time for yellow lights in Texas.”

Yes, you are correct.

What is the point of a state government (TxDOT) recommendation ? The article does provide insight into what some Texas governmnet DOT employees think the lower limit ought to be. Possibly they have knowledge and experinece in the field.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 What Minimum Yellow Time?

What is the point of a state government (TxDOT) recommendation ? The article does provide insight into what some Texas governmnet DOT employees think the lower limit ought to be. Possibly they have knowledge and experinece in the field.

Meanwhile, cities are perfectly free to totally ignore those recommendations, which was the point of the original comment.

Name says:

Everyone Loves Good Government

I work for the government and I pay my red light fines. I’ve paid 6 fines for running red lights and don’t care what the cost is because they work believe it or not. For the record, I only got 2 dismissed because of my job title. If the government wasn’t here to protect you all, you would get nowhere and hurt each other. I’m also all for religion and faith if you are into that kind of thing, but really you should take some of that money out of the church bowl and donate that to the hard working people that ultimately take care of you. First comes government, then everything else. The general population is like children, if we don’t have cameras, we can’t keep you safe. And there are so many people to tend to, cameras and automated technology allow us to protect more of you with less man power. The smaller the ruling class, the more money we will have to disperse in areas that you need most like tax relief and housing. You can’t stop what’s coming…

andre says:

Shortened Yellow Lights

I have been driving in Upland CA through the Euclid Ave. and Foothill Blvd. intersection for 30 years with no tickets. They installed the cameras there and I saw a flash when I went through the intersection. I said to my wife “that was an awfully short yellow. I timed it and it was just around 2.5 seconds. I stood in line at the West End Traffic division and complained about my problem to another person in line. I found out that the approximately 40 people in line all had tickets from this same intersection. Wow! I complained to the girl at the counter that I wanted to fight this in court and she said I had best just pay it. They would charge me extra court fees for taking up the court time if I tried to fight it. I paid $350 and left. City Hall lost all of my respect and support that day. What a scam!!

Jerry in Detroit (profile) says:

Lawsuit!

If the cities are tampering with the lights, it would be relatively easy to time the light and ascertain if it was to federal spec. If not, the city could be sued for the ticket. Small Claims Court would work. City finances would soon die the “death of a 1,00 cuts” if enough people tried this avenue. Any good lawyer would love this if an accident was involved.

Marie says:

the lenght of time for yellow light in Wash. St.

WE HAVE CAMERAS AT SOME OR OUR INTERSECTIONS, BUT I NEVER THOUGHT ABOUT THE TIME OF THE LIGHT BEING CHANGED. IS THERE ANYBODY OUT THERE THAT KNOWS THE TIME OF A LIGHT IN WASHINGTON STATE? IT JUST SEEMS TO ME THAT SOMETIMES THE YELLOW IS REALLY FAST AND BAM IT IS RED. I WOULD LIKE TO TIME SOME OF OUR LIGHTS AND SEE. THANK YOU TO ANYONE THAT CAN HELP.

Anonymous Coward says:

beleave a traffic planner: The longer yellow is the problem: Everyone knows whether he can stop his car when yellow starts, the time depends on speed and a normal capability of your brakes. See replies 53, 61, 89. There are two problems with this:
1. You cannot stop in time, when you are too fast.
2. If you are accustomed to longer yellow lights, you drive on and reach the traffic light at “very dark yellow”.
In Germany we have only one possible time for each maximaly allowed speed. So eveybody knows exactly what ist going on. If we exceed yellow in order to please some drivers, we will exceed danger!

gary jordan says:

tampering with stop light timing

I know for a fact thar cities tamper with traffic lights to generate revenue and its not for a little while either, they know that people are ignorant, too busy to concern themselves,or they think like most people that this is conspiracy theory, but they do manipulate these lights,I’m a drag racer and no one knows more about timing lights, than we do. The stupid thing about this is there will never be any thing done about it either. Seriously thinking about moving to the canadian rockies where there is no more thought about the criminal thought process that is in government, People are elected thinking they will change things then they get elected and find out the hard way that they conform or are ostricized that’s my opinion and I know I’m not far off!!!!!!

Violated....... says:

City Camera Lights

They could at least post a camera enforced sign
at those intersections. They have signs for everything else,
even where not needed. I’m all for driving safer and properly but I still feel cheated and violated especially out of my civil rights that someone is spying on me even when they are so hard up for ticketing people for making a right turn on a red light. They will not spend the money to fix the pot holes that ruin your car but they will spend more money to ticket you YET STILL WILL NOT FIX THE POT HOLES WITH THAT TICKET MONEY. Ticks me off!

sam rizk says:

I am a professional driver with an excellent record. I was surprisely caught running red light while doing my job as a bus driver in the City of Pasadena. 3 months later I received this weird ticket. When I investigated this unusual event with light camera and flash camera showing I did not cross the red light , Officers of this police station showed no symphaty and insisted to issue me that ticket. Even the court asked for my nationality and decided not to dismiss my ticket after showing many evidences that I was innocent. Now it makes more sence for me why this city was consistent to deliberately issue me an illigal ticket.

John says:

Red Lights

I have first hand knowledge that one of the cities did not decrease the yellow time. Springfield MO actually INCREASED the yellow time. What the original reported failed to do when they interviewed the official from Springfield was follow up on their poorly worded question.

They asked Springfield if they changed the yellow time when they installed the cameras. Springfield said “yes” and the reporter took this to mean “decrease”. Springfield actually increased the time, not decreased. The city is actually aware of the news article.

I guess the author of the news article wanted to make Springfield look bad rather than follow up with the truth.

While I don’t agree with red light cameras, it is a shame that people write these kinds of non-truths to try and gain favor for their side rather than present the facts correctly.

Abattoir says:

Negative side of pause in red light

Here in Ontario, drivers have caught on to the fact that there is a period when both sides have a red light. They now routinely continue to go through the intersection even AFTER the light has turned red, because they know the other direction also has a red light.

I regularly see drivers executing a left turn long after the left turn light has turned amber, and then red.

Anonymous Coward says:

joe somtimes people are not speeding just driving over the limit and can’t make and adjustment until they look at there speed. but the camera gets your pic first and redflux a company not located in the usa takes the fine(money)you pay gets there cut of the precent and moves after the next victim. maybe next time it’ll be you and kids are family will have to do without eating.

gerald berke says:

red light cameras

This is the way it works. Always. Sometimes a lot, sometimes a little: no big deal.
We should not be surprised, we should be informed, the behavior should be expected. Just like trying to make it through the yellow.
Good system design accounts for that kind of stuff. Like a clear period of all red. Like a simple check that the timing of the lights meet specifications. And putting cameras there to catch the scoff-laws.
Part of the prosecution of red light offenders should be the date/person/specification of the last calibration of the stop light.
Alas, our reaction (get rid of those terrible terrible cameras!!!): not a surprise, expected.

Robert Bennen says:

Fining the driver

OK, Ive read all of the comments on here, and I now have one question. How can they issue a ticket to the driver if they do not know who is driving the car. If there is no picture of the person, how do they know who was driving.

Case in point the guy with the mask in Arizona. They can not proof he was driving.

New Orleans has put up cameras, the greedy city itself.

Some one email me an answer.

Robert
RBennen@aol.com

allii747 says:

(comment by kDiddle)

In the state of Michigan yellow means stop. I have two teenagers that have both benn ticketed and lost in court for disregarding a traffic signal for driving through a yellow light. 2 points each 5,000$ a year for auto insurance. Pity the poor soul who is behind me and the light turns yellow. I’m stopping.

Stuart Diamond (user link) says:

light change greeen- to amber -to red in 3 second

I recently experienced a similar situation.
i entered a deserted crosswalk at 9:07 pm. Wed going west turning North on Biscane Blvd. in Aventura Fl.. . After receiving this summons, I later went to the location and took many video shots with my “iPhone” which shows the light change from greeen- to amber -to red in 3 second. I’m watching the crosswalk and traffic likht at the same time. I had no time to look to see if their was a car on my tail. (a similar situation happened a yr ago.and my new car was hit.)
I plan on fighting this if anyone knows the law or has a similar situation please contact me at studiamond at comcast,net

Amanda says:

When I was in Beijing, they had a timer on the lights that you could see. You could look up and see the seconds counting down until the light turned green. This really cuts down on impatience in those waiting at the intersection. Therefore, people aren’t as unwilling to stop at yellow.

However, as someone mentioned, it is not always safe or even physically possible to stop on yellow. If I’m two meters away from the intersection and the light turns yellow, slamming on the brakes is not safe. Do they expect us to psychically know when the light is going to turn. That’s just silly.

Good Citizen Not some Unknown coward! says:

Unfair Taxes

Another good idea is simple inexpensive countdown timer doubles as ped cross timer will be self policing and thus self-evident fairness indicator to the general public. If the cities are truly sincere about public safety they could do this measure “and/or” community service hours as fine or violation punishment. Pure and simple!

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