Chicago Tribune Story on Yellow Lights: UPDATE Going below Federal Guidelines

 

http://www.chicagotribune.com/classified/automotive/ct-met-y...

Very good article. My favorite part was this,

"Camera opponents point to anecdotal evidence that suggests increasing yellows can reduce red-light running. Several Georgia cities last year yanked cameras after a new state law forced yellows to be lengthened and violations plummeted.

Last fall, the suburb of Loma Linda, Calif., east of Los Angeles, increased yellow times from three to four seconds at four camera monitored intersections and also saw a big fall off in tickets. 'If politicians refuse to lenghthen yellow lights and still claim red-light cameras are all about safety, then they are liars,' said Rhodes Rigsby, mayor pro tem of the Loma Linda City Council."

Why can't they increase yellow lights for one second? 3 seconds is the shortest possible amount. If it's really in the name of safety, and to stop red-light running, the real question is, why aren't they?

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Good article

We hold these truths to be self-evident. exclaim

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It's about the Line- If a line can be drawn between the powers granted and the rights retained, it would seem to be the same thing, whether the latter be secured by declaring that they shall not be abridged, or that the former shall not be extended.

I agree

In the city I live and work in we modify the yellow light timing as necessary. The other part of the equation is to modify the timing once a signal goes from yellow to red that controls the next signal scheduled to become green. For a period of 3-5 seconds everyone is red, nobody enters the intersection. If someone runs the red light, chances of an accident are reduced. I am all about reducing accidents instead of writing tickets !!!

Nice Article

Thanks twix for posting that. Makes sense to me that I personally would be more inclined to stop if the yellow is longer. I'm not sure this would apply to everyone as, quite frankly, different drivers behave differently.

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Expect nothing!, appreciate benignity!

UPDATE: Decreasing Yellow Lights from 3 seconds to 2.6

http://www.nwherald.com/articles/2010/04/24/r_qoe7rdctvgon5t...

"SPRINGFIELD – A compromise proposal outlining the use of red light cameras at traffic intersections is headed for Gov. Pat Quinn's desk after clearing the House on Friday on an 80-27 vote.

The measure previously passed the Senate.

Sponsored by state Rep. John D'Amico, D-Chicago, the legislation would regulate the minimum length of yellow lights to 2.6 seconds, require municipalities to post videos of red light violations on a website, and require a police officer or trained reviewer to look over the violation videos.

D'Amico said drivers who ran through red lights still would get tickets, but those who stop on the line or just after the line would not.

'You have to come to a complete stop, otherwise you will get a ticket,” he said. “Before, if you eased over the line a little bit, you still got a ticket. You will not get that ticket now, but you have to come to a complete stop.'"

I'm posting the article from

I'm posting the article from one month ago, in case it gets taken down.

http://www.chicagotribune.com/classified/automotive/ct-met-y...

"The difference may be little more than a snap of the finger, but yellow lights on city traffic signals are shorter than ones in the suburbs. That gap is fast becoming fodder for a new and murky front in the battle over red-light cameras.

Most Chicago yellow lights last three seconds, the bare minimum recommended under federal safety guidelines. In the suburbs, yellows generally stay on for four to four-and-a-half seconds.

Cameras are touted as an effective tool to combat red-light running, but critics claim Chicago's shorter yellows undermine that premise by making it harder for motorists to stop in time and inflating the volume of tickets.

City officials insist, however, that Chicago's three-second yellows adhere to sound engineering principles and predate the installation of red-light cameras by decades. And they say the number of red-light-running violations caught on camera is tiny compared with the volume of traffic, proof that yellows in the city are not a trap.

Clouding the dispute have been unsubstantiated charges lobbed by camera opponents accusing the city of slicing yellows significantly below the three-second standard at intersections with cameras. Despite strong evidence to the contrary, the charges have been widely replayed in the media and become a factor in Springfield as lawmakers weigh stiffer controls on the automated devices.

Few traffic control innovations have stirred passions and suspicions more than red-light cameras, which first began to appear in the city in 2003 and in the suburbs three years later.

City and suburban officials insist they have turned to cameras only to improve safety, but there is no question that cameras also mean big money for cash-starved municipal coffers.

Chicago now has 186 intersections monitored by cameras, by far the most of any city in the nation. Last year, the $100 fines generated by those cameras netted the city more than $59 million.

As cameras have flourished, so have questions about their effectiveness in reducing red-light running and accidents.

The Tribune reported last year that state records showed collisions either increasing or holding steady at nearly 60 percent of the city intersections equipped with red-light cameras in 2006 or 2007. City records, by contrast, showed accidents going down more often than not at those intersections.

Yellow lights pose another conundrum in the battle over red-light cameras. If the devices are supposed to combat red-light running, do the city's shorter yellows undermine that goal? On that, there is plenty of heated disagreement.

There is no universal standard dictating yellow time lengths. Federal guidelines, adopted by Illinois transportation officials, recommend only that yellows be set between three and six seconds. In practice, faster speed limits dictate longer yellows because it takes longer to stop when lights change.

With only a few exceptions, the speed limit on Chicago thoroughfares is 30 mph. Speeds tend to be faster in the suburbs — one reason why yellows last longer there.

A handful of suburbs, however, have installed red-light cameras at intersections where the speed limits are comparable to Chicago or sometimes a little slower — and those yellow lights are longer than in the city as well.

Using a video camera to enhance precision, the Tribune timed signals at nine camera-monitored suburban intersections with speed limits of 30 mph or less, conditions similar to Chicago. At two of those intersections in west suburban Bellwood, the yellows lasted four seconds. The other intersections — in Berwyn, Westchester, Schiller Park, Wauconda and Algonquin — clocked in at about 4.5 seconds for yellows.

But speed limit is just one factor in determining how long yellow lights should be, said Brian Steele, a spokesman for the Chicago Department of Transportation. City streets, for example, tend to be narrower, with buildings abutting the roadways, he said.

'What may have been successful in one community might not be successful in the city,' Steele added.

Indeed, New York, which has speed limits and street conditions similar to Chicago, also sets a three-second standard for yellow lights.

That said, New York builds in another safety factor that often goes beyond Chicago's. Many communities program traffic signals to have an all-red phase, essentially a brief interlude following a yellow light in which lights are red in all directions.

In New York, the all-red standard is two seconds, while it varies between one and two seconds in Chicago. The Illinois Department of Transportation, which controls the timing on many camera-monitored intersections in the suburbs, sets all-red phases between 1.5 seconds and two seconds.

Steele said the city's three-second yellow standard has been around for at least a half century. He also said a recent sampling of 14 high ticket-generating intersections found that 99.87 percent of all cars passing through did so without triggering red-light cameras.

Arriving at a common benchmark for yellow lights is difficult because traffic engineering is more of a juggling act between physics and human behavior than it is an exact science. If the speed limit is 55 mph, many people will drive 60 mph. Up the limit to 60 mph, and they'll go 65 mph.

West suburban Lombard generally sets yellows on its traffic signals at between three and four seconds whether or not a red-light camera is involved. But John Johnson, a village public works supervisor, has upped the time to five or six seconds at accident-prone intersections, including one at East Washington Boulevard and South Westmore-Myers Road.

'We had a couple of accidents that landed vehicles in the front yard of the resident who lives there on the corner,' he said. 'No one died, thank God, but ever since I [increased] that time up, I can't recall another [major] accident.'

In downtown Naperville, with 25 mph speed limits and high-pedestrian traffic, yellow lights are 3.5 seconds, said Andy Hynes, a Naperville project engineer. But he said yellow light times can be as long as 4.5 seconds on higher-speed roads in the suburb, which operates cameras at three intersections.

Camera opponents point to anecdotal evidence that suggests increasing yellows can reduce red-light running. Several Georgia cities last year yanked cameras after a new state law forced yellows to be lengthened and violations plummeted.

Last fall, the suburb of Loma Linda, Calif., east of Los Angeles, increased yellow times from three to four seconds at four camera-monitored intersections and also saw a big falloff in tickets. 'If politicians refuse to lengthen yellow lights and still claim red-light cameras are all about safety, then they are liars,' said Rhodes Rigsby, mayor pro tem of the Loma Linda City Council.

Camera foes also say research backs up their claims, citing in particular a study released in 2004 by the Texas Transportation Institute at Texas A&M University. It concluded that increasing yellow times at select intersections by 0.5 to 1.5 seconds decreased red-light running by about 50 percent.

But James Bonneson, the lead researcher, said in an interview that his findings had been widely misrepresented. He said increasing yellow times would do little to reduce broadside collisions, the most dangerous type of crash associated with red-light running.

Having uniform yellow intervals, like those in Chicago, is more important in promoting safety than the length of the yellows themselves, Bonneson added. 'If you increase all the yellows, people would simply adapt,' he explained.

In recent weeks, a group of anti-camera crusaders has gained considerable media attention with claims that Chicago has manipulated signals at several camera-monitored intersections so that yellows fall significantly short of the three-second standard.

But city engineering plans obtained by the Tribune through the Freedom of Information Act show programming instructions dictate three-second yellows at almost all signals tied to cameras. The instructions for the rest of the signals call for four-second yellows.

Using video, the newspaper timed yellow lights at more than 70 city intersections that have generated a large share of camera tickets. All but a handful clocked in with three-second yellows, and the rest were four seconds.

The 186 Chicago intersections monitored by red-light cameras are but a small fraction of the 3,000 city intersections controlled by traffic signals. For each of those intersections, whether they have cameras or not, the signal timing instructions are programmed into an electronic brain locked inside a secure metal cabinet by the side of the road.

At the Tribune's request, city transportation officials recently opened for inspection the traffic control box at 99th and Halsted streets, the intersection that produces more red-light camera tickets than any other in Chicago.

Inside was a spaghettilike collection of cables and boxes, including a timer with a digital readout that scrolls through light cycles. A "3.0" popped on the screen whenever yellows illuminated on the nearby signals.

Bob Nelson, the general foreman of traffic operations for the city's Transportation Department, said the cabinets are built with safeguards to prevent tampering.

Signal times can't be altered without a security code, and only a handful of technicians know what it is, he said. As a backup, Nelson said, the system is also programmed to automatically revert to flashing red lights in all directions if for any reason a yellow cycle drops below 2.8 seconds.

'My family and people's families drive through these intersections every day," Nelson said. "It would be morally wrong and criminally negligent if we did something knowingly to get people hurt. We design it to make it as safe as possible.'"

If Illinois legislators

If Illinois legislators really do go below the federal guidelines, it shows they are not interested in safety.

Some Illinois abuses of RLCs to be curtailed Jan. 1, 2011

from: www.chicagotribune.com/classified/automotive/ct-met-quinn-re...

Quinn OKs changes in red-light camera rules;
New law will allow motorists more leeway in appealing tickets

By Ray Long, Tribune Reporter

7:50 PM CDT, July 9, 2010

SPRINGFIELD

Traffic tickets from much-despised red-light cameras will be a little easier to fight next year under legislation Gov. Pat Quinn signed Friday.

The new law gives motorists more leeway in filing an appeal to a red-light citation and requires independent verification of an alleged violation before a ticket is issued.

The measure bans Chicago and suburbs from tacking on a fee to the standard $100 fine if a ticket is appealed, a common practice that can deter a motorist from fighting the charge.

Critics say the law still falls short of what is needed, but it represented a compromise in response to the rising number of complaints that have proliferated across Chicago and suburbs in recent years.

"Red-light cameras in Illinois should serve the public good and improve public safety," Quinn said in a statement. "It is important that we protect consumers by putting an end to abuse of red-light cameras. This new law is a step in the right direction."

A look at other elements of the new law, which takes effect Jan. 1:

—Drivers get more wiggle room to creep up to the edge of an intersection before stopping. A complete stop still will be required before making a right turn on red, but drivers could come to a halt after the painted stop line without getting a ticket as long as pedestrians were not nearby.

—Rolling right turns still will be outlawed, but drivers will no longer be required to make their stop at a white line several feet shy of the intersection.

—Violations must be reviewed and approved by a law enforcement officer or retired officer hired to carry out the duties in DuPage, Kane, Lake, Madison, McHenry, St. Clair or Will counties.

—If the violation occurs in Chicago or Cook County, the Quinn administration said, the video must be reviewed by a law enforcement officer, retired officer or a fully trained review technician.

—Any ticketed vehicle owner must be able to access video of the alleged misdeed on the Internet. That is a courtesy already widely offered by camera vendors. Cities and counties also will have to post locations of the cameras on their Web sites.

Other changes codified what is already common practice. One provision mandates yellow lights on traffic signals be timed to comply with broad guidelines set by state transportation officials, a standard that every community with cameras already claims to meet.

Senate President John Cullerton and Rep. John D'Amico, both Chicago Democrats, sponsored the measure.

rlong@tribune.com

Copyright © 2010, Chicago Tribune

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JMoo On

Great article. We need some

Great article. We need some more politicians with brains in other parts of the country.

It certainly dispenses with the idea that they're only doing it for our safety.

I guess what's required is a citizen group coming out against a politician for supporting these cameras vs more modest means. The first time a politician is denied office on that basis, I think you'll see a watershed across the country.

Fred

How did it do that?

FZbar wrote:

It certainly dispenses with the idea that they're only doing it for our safety.

Fred,

What statement in the article prompted you to conclude that safety was not a reason?

Thank you so much for

dagarmin,

Thank you so much for posting the update! I saw it in the newspaper, but didn't have time to post it. Once I did have time, I completely forgot about it.

Something's got to be done about lowering the yellow lights. If they lower the timing for RLC intersections only, it will be obvious what their intentions are.

Longer Yellow Lights

Here's hoping this one passes!

http://blogs.dailyherald.com/node/6723

WPD 909: The Only Thing Wrong With Your Post Is..

wpd909 wrote:

In the city I live and work in we modify the yellow light timing as necessary. The other part of the equation is to modify the timing once a signal goes from yellow to red that controls the next signal scheduled to become green. For a period of 3-5 seconds everyone is red, nobody enters the intersection. If someone runs the red light, chances of an accident are reduced. I am all about reducing accidents instead of writing tickets !!!

You're using "common sense".. and we know what's said about it.

"Common sense isn't so common in many people!"

I'm glad to see there's someone who at least has some.

Nuvi1300WTGPS

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I'm not really lost.... just temporarily misplaced!

Good article, but..

twix wrote:

Here's hoping this one passes!

http://blogs.dailyherald.com/node/6723

I could not read it because the Daily Herald covered it up with an ad wanting me to subscribe. When I x'd out the ad I was sent to another screen and could not find the article (although it must have been there somewhere)

I think the same data can be found reported here:
http://www.thenewspaper.com/news/37/3733.asp#source

Assuming this was the same information, what struck me was this: "City of Chicago traffic lights are set at the shortest federally acceptable level of three seconds"

whoops!

I knew I should have copy and pasted the article. Here it is.

"State Sen. Dan Duffy's longtime crusade against red light cameras took a baby step forward this evening when a Senate committee advanced his plan to extend the duration of a yellow light by one second at any intersection with a red-light camera.

What's an extra second get you?

Duffy said studies from other states show that a longer yellow light means fewer accidents at an intersection.

And it might mean fewer tickets for drivers, giving them a little extra time to get through an intersection.

Even though the senate committee voted to send it to the full senate, Duffy's plan has to change before it moves forward. Because of various concerns from lawmakers on the panel, they asked the Lake Barrington Republican to agree not to proceed further until he hears out their ideas and considers changes.

The main opponent is the Illinois Department of Transportation, which argues the length of a yellow light is set by national standards based on how fast traffic approaches the intersection. Making a yellow light last a second longer would mess with that, and doing it only to intersections with cameras would mess with the standard, too, they argue.

What happens to Duffy's proposal this year remains to be seen. Last year, he attempted to get the state to ease up on ticketing drivers who roll through a red light while turning right.

That proposal didn't advance. It should be noted that Senate President John Cullerton, who can have quite a bit of say on what legislation is allowed to move through the process, hasn't been a big fan of Duffy's red light camera plans in the past."

Thankfully, I still had the browser with that article open. When I clicked the link in a new browser, I got the pop-up too. Sorry about that.

As far as the three seconds, yep. We're at the very bottom of the safety standards.

I've noticed a few

I've noticed a few intersections now have count down timers on them, so you know what to expect for the light turning. I'm lucky, I live at the far northwest side of Chicago, so I can vote with my dollars and take my business to suburbs that don't have RLC's every 2 blocks.
If we have that many dangerous intersections, why haven't the engineers that designed those intersections lost their credentials?

don't worry about it

nrbovee wrote:

I've noticed a few intersections now have count down timers on them, so you know what to expect for the light turning. I'm lucky, I live at the far northwest side of Chicago, so I can vote with my dollars and take my business to suburbs that don't have RLC's every 2 blocks.
If we have that many dangerous intersections, why haven't the engineers that designed those intersections lost their credentials?

The engineers that designed those intersections have probably been dead for many years.

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"In order to be old and wise, one first must have been young and stupid."

Minor correction

twix wrote:

"…What's an extra second get you?

Duffy said studies from other states show that a longer yellow light means fewer accidents at an intersection.

And it might mean fewer tickets for drivers, giving them a little extra time to get through an intersection."

Sorry to quibble over such a minor error in what is basically a very good article, but the reporter is mistaken in characterizing longer yellows as giving drivers "a little extra time to get through an intersection." It gives them a little extra time to stop before entering the intersection. You can't violate Illinois law on red light traffic signals by being IN the intersection when the light changes to red--you violate it by crossing the line when the light is red. (And if there is no line, an imaginary one is drawn across the intersection.)

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JMoo On

Shouldn't surprise anyone...

In what should be no surprise to anyone, the Chicago Tribune today ran an article linking Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who is pushing hard for rapid expansion of the installation of speed cameras in school zones and near parks, has received a lot of support from a consultant who also works for Redflex, leading installer and operator of traffic light and speed enforcement cameras.
http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/ct-met-resolute-ema...

This whole push with the accompanying blather about "the safety of our kids" was so uncharacteristic of Emanuel that most everyone in Chicago knew something else was behind it. There are far more kids in Chicago dying and getting hurt by gangs than by cars speeding or ignoring stop signs by schools or parks, so the safety angle was an obvious red herring. This is the first article that's really come up with a solid theory about what's really going on.

In Chicago it's always about the money.

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JMoo On

count down timers

nrbovee wrote:

I've noticed a few intersections now have count down timers on them, so you know what to expect for the light turning. I'm lucky, I live at the far northwest side of Chicago, so I can vote with my dollars and take my business to suburbs that don't have RLC's every 2 blocks.
If we have that many dangerous intersections, why haven't the engineers that designed those intersections lost their credentials?

I've advocated countdown timers for years. It would take the guesswork out of when the light was going to change, especially when the light is on a road with a 55 MPH speed limit. There is one road I travel quite often which has a 55 limit and there is a light that you can see for three quarters of a mile from either direction. The problem is you never know how long the green is going to last. One day the green will last for a minute or longer and the next time it might change in 30 seconds. At first I thought it had to do with traffic on the other road but I have seen it happen with no cars sitting at the light on the other road, so that makes me think someone plays with the timers. It makes it really hard to judge how fast you should be going when you approach the light.

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Anytime you have a 50-50 chance of getting something right, there's a 90% probability you'll get it wrong.

Yes but...

I agree with you, but you'd have to put the countdown timer at least a quarter mile out from the light and make it pretty big to do any good at 55 mph. It doesn't help if you're going 55 mph and only 100 yards away from the light when you can read the timer the way you can those pedestrian crosswalk timer lights.

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JMoo On

I'm sorry but stories like

I'm sorry but stories like these makes me wonder how some of these people get elected

panic stops

dagarmin wrote:

I agree with you, but you'd have to put the countdown timer at least a quarter mile out from the light and make it pretty big to do any good at 55 mph. It doesn't help if you're going 55 mph and only 100 yards away from the light when you can read the timer the way you can those pedestrian crosswalk timer lights.

100 yards would be fine, the average stopping distance at 55 MPH is 265 feet. The way it is now I have to start slowing down when I get anywhere near the light, otherwise I'm taking the chance of having to make a panic stop to avoid going through a red light.

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Anytime you have a 50-50 chance of getting something right, there's a 90% probability you'll get it wrong.

You're not gaining anything...

The gain in useful information is not going to justify the expense 100 yards out. It's almost the same as a yellow light, since that's the average stopping distance. If you're thinking that 300 feet is 35 feet better than 265 feet, it takes less than half a second to go 35 feet at 55 mph. Really, if you saw it in operation, I'm pretty sure you'd say, this isn't better than just having the yellow light. You'd want the data sooner (farther out from a traffic light at 55 mph) to make good use of it.

A quarter-mile may be more than necessary. It takes about 17 seconds to go a quarter-mile at 55 mph. An eighth of a mile, or about 660 feet, would give you 8.5 seconds warning on the timing of the yellow light. That's probably about where it would be helpful. But as I think about it, the motorist needs to be able to see it all the way to the light, so you need big numbers on the light counting down that are readable, I think one-eighth of a mile away at 55 mph. With a lower speed limit, the numbers can be smaller.

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JMoo On

Please clarify

I have been reading the discussion of the countdown timer - stopping distance; reaction time; etc.

Are you saying that the countdown timer is a substitute for a yellow light? Or do pedestrians get a countdown timer to show how much time remains for them to cross the intersection - after which the yellow light comes on to warn drivers.

For the drivers

No, the yellow light works as before. We're saying it would be useful to have a countdown timer at high-speed intersections (where there may not even be a walk light for pedestrians) that would help drivers know when traffic lights were going to change to yellow or red, so drivers could avoid the stomp-the-brakes panic stop.

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JMoo On

Ok

@dagarmin, I agree that a countdown (for argument's sake, we say to when the yellow will light) would be helpful to those drivers who would otherwise are inclined to "slam on their brakes" at the sight of a yellow light. It would let them coast to an easy stop.

However, there might be an unintended negative result for those drivers who want to game the system. They might in fact accelerate in order to beat the red. Right now there is no acceleration until the yellow appears. If their acceleration started earlier it would make it harder to stop for some unexpected event, like a car pulling into the roadway from a business along the side of the roadway.

the universty of oregon

The University of Oregon is beginning some studies on the "dilemma zone" where drivers have to make a decision regarding yellow lights. The zone of course varies with speed but is a point where a driver has to make a decision over stopping or continuing through a changing light. The report I saw stated they were going to use "fuzzy logic" which can produce exact results from a set of ill defined variables. This study, when it is completed may answer a lot of questions regarding the timing of yellow lights other than the ITE formula of approximately 1 second for every 10 MPH of the posted speed.

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"In order to be old and wise, one first must have been young and stupid."

Granted...

jgermann wrote:

@dagarmin, I agree that a countdown (for argument's sake, we say to when the yellow will light) would be helpful to those drivers who would otherwise are inclined to "slam on their brakes" at the sight of a yellow light. It would let them coast to an easy stop.

However, there might be an unintended negative result for those drivers who want to game the system. They might in fact accelerate in order to beat the red. Right now there is no acceleration until the yellow appears. If their acceleration started earlier it would make it harder to stop for some unexpected event, like a car pulling into the roadway from a business along the side of the roadway.

I agree that unintended consequences that could decrease safety are a distinct possibility--including drivers who speed up to beat the light. I certainly do that as a pedestrian with crosswalk lights at the blazing speed of 4 mph!

I think the U Oregon studies Box Car mentions are a great idea. It certainly is a factor. I always try to mentally have a Go-Don't Go point in mind as I approach a traffic light at speeds of 40 mph where legal.

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JMoo On

Another option

Box Car wrote:

The University of Oregon is beginning some studies on the "dilemma zone" where drivers have to make a decision regarding yellow lights. The zone of course varies with speed but is a point where a driver has to make a decision over stopping or continuing through a changing light. The report I saw stated they were going to use "fuzzy logic" which can produce exact results from a set of ill defined variables. This study, when it is completed may answer a lot of questions regarding the timing of yellow lights other than the ITE formula of approximately 1 second for every 10 MPH of the posted speed.

An alternative I have seen is to place a set of lights a distance prior to the intersection. If the lights are flashing, it indicates that by the time you reach the intersection you will have a red light (assuming you are traveling ~speedlimit).

If the lights are off, you will have enough time to pass through on green (or yellow if it changes).

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Streetpilot C340 Nuvi 2595 LMT

Sample timer

jgermann wrote:

I have been reading the discussion of the countdown timer - stopping distance; reaction time; etc.

Are you saying that the countdown timer is a substitute for a yellow light? Or do pedestrians get a countdown timer to show how much time remains for them to cross the intersection - after which the yellow light comes on to warn drivers.

Here's what I had in mind:

http://tinyurl.com/cv2u5q6

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Anytime you have a 50-50 chance of getting something right, there's a 90% probability you'll get it wrong.

Chicago aldermen questioning use of Redflex

dagarmin wrote:

In what should be no surprise to anyone, the Chicago Tribune today ran an article linking Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who is pushing hard for rapid expansion of the installation of speed cameras in school zones and near parks, has received a lot of support from a consultant who also works for Redflex, leading installer and operator of traffic light and speed enforcement cameras.
http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/ct-met-resolute-ema...

This whole push with the accompanying blather about "the safety of our kids" was so uncharacteristic of Emanuel that most everyone in Chicago knew something else was behind it. There are far more kids in Chicago dying and getting hurt by gangs than by cars speeding or ignoring stop signs by schools or parks, so the safety angle was an obvious red herring. This is the first article that's really come up with a solid theory about what's really going on.

In Chicago it's always about the money.

Almost one year later, from a recent Chicago Tribune article at: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/ct-met-city-council...

"A group of aldermen wants proof that the embattled company that installed red-light cameras at intersections across Chicago did so based on improving traffic safety, not just collecting lots of money from ticketing drivers.

A resolution introduced at Wednesday's City Council meeting calls for hearings to be held on how the sites were chosen for the cameras put up by Redflex Traffic Systems Inc.

Tribune stories that Redflex lavished sporting trips on a former city transportation official and lied about it to City Hall call into question the company's procedures for placing the cameras, said sponsoring Ald. John Arena.

'The original ordinance calls for better traffic safety, but we don't really know the standards they used,' said Arena, 45th. 'We want officials from (the Chicago Department of Transportation) to come in and give us specifics on the analysis and on whether these intersections are safer now.'

The resolution calls for city officials to appear at a hearing to explain what role Redflex played in deciding where the cameras went and whether revenue projections were considered in choosing the intersections. Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced last week that Redflex would be dumped from the city's red-light camera contract."

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Anyone from the Chicago area won't need to be told this, but to translate for others, it's not that city officials are suddenly concerned about corruption... what they're saying is Chicago-speak for "My palms have not been sufficiently greased in the past year to cover this outrage."

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JMoo On

Wow!

This is what happens when I don't keep up with reading the newspaper!

With the city bringing in over $300 million since 2003, I'd be willing to say it was for profit. At $100 per ticket, and red flex getting their cut, it's mind boggling how much money we're talking about.

I was in Chicago 2 days ago, and I did not see one person run a red light. Red light camera intersection or not. If the people in Chicago were really that bad at driving, we'd all be dead. Now on the other hand, that gun violence...

But..

There was a story the other day about how the city collected 60 million last year, so you must be at the wrong intersections. If the intersections are really that bad, we need to demand the money be spent to reconfigure the intersections to make them safer. This would eliminate the safety hazard, generate construction jobs, and the city could remove the cameras after the work is done.

$

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/ct-met-redlight-exe...

It would be nice if the intersections were truly safer, rather than money making machines.

I didn't read the whole article yet, but Holy Cow! Getting sued and fired?!

Hands caught in the cookie jar

More updates about Redflex's naughty-naughty relationship with the city of Chicago (/shockface):
http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/chi-pdf-redflex-int...

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/ct-met-chicago-red-...

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/ct-met-red-light-ca...

In other (related) news, the value of Redflex stock was down to $1.13 last week in part because of getting into this mess. Be a shame if they went bankrupt.

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JMoo On

Safety Cookie Jar!

Front page news, and it keeps getting better.

You know what would be nice? If they stopped focusing on Chicago, and started investigating other "customers." How much you wanna bet that would be the nail in the coffin?

That settles that!

Surely you're not suggesting that Redflex might have bribed officials in cities other than Chicago, are you?? I'm sure Redflex has cut out this cancer by firing the very few bad apples involved in the Chicago contract, including the chief financial officer and top lawyer of Redflex. That settles that!
/sarcasm mode off

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JMoo On

Now if they'd only add the other missing pieces

twix wrote:

Sponsored by state Rep. John D'Amico, D-Chicago, the legislation would regulate the minimum length of yellow lights to 2.6 seconds, require municipalities to post videos of red light violations on a website, and require a police officer or trained reviewer to look over the violation videos.

D'Amico said drivers who ran through red lights still would get tickets, but those who stop on the line or just after the line would not.

'You have to come to a complete stop, otherwise you will get a ticket,” he said. “Before, if you eased over the line a little bit, you still got a ticket. You will not get that ticket now, but you have to come to a complete stop.'"

I applaud this effort to dial back what has so often been an effort to scam people out of money for "violations" that they'd never be cited for by any normal police officer.

Now if they'd only add the other missing pieces of the puzzle: requiring that notification be sent via some method (e.g.: certified mail., etc.) that requires an adult signature, require positive proof of notification (letter can't just be dropped off), and forbid municipaltiies from issuing arrest warrants for failure to pay RLC or speed camera citations if they cannot prove (and I mean, PROOF, not just an assumption) receipt by the registered owner of the vehicle.

This is a great idea.

shrifty wrote:
Box Car wrote:

The University of Oregon is beginning some studies on the "dilemma zone" where drivers have to make a decision regarding yellow lights. The zone of course varies with speed but is a point where a driver has to make a decision over stopping or continuing through a changing light. The report I saw stated they were going to use "fuzzy logic" which can produce exact results from a set of ill defined variables. This study, when it is completed may answer a lot of questions regarding the timing of yellow lights other than the ITE formula of approximately 1 second for every 10 MPH of the posted speed.

An alternative I have seen is to place a set of lights a distance prior to the intersection. If the lights are flashing, it indicates that by the time you reach the intersection you will have a red light (assuming you are traveling ~speedlimit).

If the lights are off, you will have enough time to pass through on green (or yellow if it changes).

This is a great idea. Unfortunately, it costs money.
I have a solution. Every dollar from existing RLCs fines goes to build out this new safer system. The RLC companies are "encouraged" (i.e.: forced) provide the systems gratis, in order to make intersections safer for everyone, including them.

More updates...

dagarmin wrote:

More updates about Redflex's naughty-naughty relationship with the city of Chicago

Many Thanks for the update!

Ron

Guess my sarcasm was well placed

dagarmin wrote:

Surely you're not suggesting that Redflex might have bribed officials in cities other than Chicago, are you?? I'm sure Redflex has cut out this cancer by firing the very few bad apples involved in the Chicago contract, including the chief financial officer and top lawyer of Redflex. That settles that!
/sarcasm mode off

Guess my sarcasm was well placed:
http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/ct-met-redflex-red-...

Says there that Redflex admits that the integrity of the bidding process may have been compromised in two more (unnamed for now) cities besides Chicago, and the company is investigating.

Shares down to $0.98 per.

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JMoo On

Boom!

dagarmin wrote:
dagarmin wrote:

Surely you're not suggesting that Redflex might have bribed officials in cities other than Chicago, are you?? I'm sure Redflex has cut out this cancer by firing the very few bad apples involved in the Chicago contract, including the chief financial officer and top lawyer of Redflex. That settles that!
/sarcasm mode off

Guess my sarcasm was well placed:
http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/ct-met-redflex-red-...

Says there that Redflex admits that the integrity of the bidding process may have been compromised in two more (unnamed for now) cities besides Chicago, and the company is investigating.

Shares down to $0.98 per.

When I saw that article yesterday, I felt like we were insiders or something?

This makes me so happy!

"'That's a fair question. This was going on in Chicago. Might it have been going on somewhere else?' responded McConnell, who took over as interim chair this year. 'We found two other geographies that raised concern, and those investigations are considerably smaller than the one that just ended.'"