Florida quietly shortened yellow light standards & lengths, resulting in more red light camera tickets

 

TAMPA BAY, Florida -- A subtle, but significant tweak to Florida's rules regarding traffic signals has allowed local cities and counties to shorten yellow light intervals, resulting in millions of dollars in additional red light camera fines.

The 10 News Investigators discovered the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) quietly changed the state's policy on yellow intervals in 2011, reducing the minimum below federal recommendations. The rule change was followed by engineers, both from FDOT and local municipalities, collaborating to shorten the length of yellow lights at key intersections, specifically those with red light cameras (RLCs).

While yellow light times were reduced by mere fractions of a second, research indicates a half-second reduction in the interval can double the number of RLC citations -- and the revenue they create. The 10 News investigation stemmed from a December discovery of a dangerously short yellow light in Hernando County. After the story aired, the county promised to re-time all of its intersections, and the 10 News Investigators promised to dig into yellow light timing all across Tampa Bay.

Full Article:
http://www.wtsp.com/news/local/story.aspx?storyid=316418

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Thanks...

Thanks for the article. Obviously it's all about $$$

Always

LongAce wrote:

Thanks for the article. Obviously it's all about $$$

It's always about the money. sad

--
Bob: My toys: Nüvi 1390T, Droid X2, Nook Color (rooted), Motorola Xoom, Kindle 2, a Yo-Yo and a Slinky. Gotta have toys.

Deceptive practice.

Deceptive practice!

A good Article

This was a well researched and written article. Quite balanced in its approach.

What's really bad about this

What's really bad about this is that they change the rules without telling anyone. So you are a conscientious motorist that travels the route for years and does the right thing, then BAM! you get nailed with a hefty fine. It's obvious that the only reason this happens is because the cam system is not delivering revenue at the level promised. The money isn't coming in because for the most part, people are obeying the law. So they adjust the yellow down to the point where it's almost impossible to obey the law. Contempt for the public, pure and simple. What's even worse is that when the municipality, state, etc. gets busted doing this stuff, you have no chance of ever getting back your money from the fine.

--
"Primum Non Nocere" 2595LMT Clear Channel and Navteq Traffic

?

williston wrote:

... So they adjust the yellow down to the point where it's almost impossible to obey the law. Contempt for the public, pure and simple. ...

It would clearly be possible for some jurisdiction to adjust the yellows down to the point where it would be almost impossible to obey the law. However, many states have laws which mandate what the minimum yellows must be if a city wishes to install cameras. It may be every state has such minimums but I can not find the table I saved to verify that.

According to the article link, which is long but a good read, all of the yellows in question here met the federal and state minimums. The previous minimums (in effect in 2011) were reduced to NOT account for the 85th percentile of speed at the intersection. The investigation seemed to agree that the FDOT new yellows - even shortened from previous timings - were at federal minimums.

Regardless - it surely looks like the FDOT knew that it would increase revenue, even though they say that FDOT did not benefit.

What is a big negative in my mind is that the changes were made without telling the public or the legislature.

thatsa bout it!

rlallos wrote:
LongAce wrote:

Thanks for the article. Obviously it's all about $$$

It's always about the money. sad

That's about all there is to it!!

--
~Jim~ Nuvi-660, & Nuvi-680

yes

jimcaulfield wrote:
rlallos wrote:
LongAce wrote:

Thanks for the article. Obviously it's all about $$$

It's always about the money. sad

That's about all there is to it!!

Amen!

--
nightrider --Nuvi's 660 & 680--

See how this plays out

Now it's just a matter of time to see how this plays out. This can be the sort of story which results in voters changing the way government operates, but I would never count on anything ever changing for the better. Things always get worse. Entropy always increases.

Thanks For The Article

Thanks for posting this. I'm going to pass this on to our reporters here in Lakeland to see if they did the same here.

Thanks For Article

$ $ $ and more $

Money, Money , Money

Money for the government official vacation

--
Val - Nuvi 785t and Streetpilot C340

unsafe

A quote from the article:

Quote:

The 10 News Investigators discovered the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) quietly changed the state's policy on yellow intervals in 2011, reducing the minimum below federal recommendations.

Behind the backs of citizens they lowered the time to below the Federal guidelines - can anyone claim they're using the RLC's for safety reasons?

Uniform Policy Needed

A uniform policy relating to ALL Red Light Camera specifications is important.

Drivers may be confused when yellow light times vary from place to place including State to State.

Otherwise we are just contributors to Government coffers and NOT receiving any safety benefits.

--
romanviking

It's how and -when- they

It's how and -when- they made the change that bothers me. I can live with state and federal requirements and even an adjustment if they are found to be out of spec. But in this case it clearly seems this was done after a midnight change to the law which changed the wording. That's the "How". But it's really the "When" that bugs me the most: The yellows are fine (for years?) until cameras go in and the revenue starts to drop off, then all of a sudden they are adjusted and violations go through the roof. Transparent is an understatement.

--
"Primum Non Nocere" 2595LMT Clear Channel and Navteq Traffic

Perhaps a class action suit

Perhaps a class action suit would help clarify the wording & practice.

Fred

Pass it on

I've already emailed the story to people after it broke a few days ago, and I'd urge everyone to do the same. This does a great job of bringing the two faced nature of RLC's into perspective-the length of yellow lights is fine the way it is until it starts to adversely affect income from the cameras, then it needs to be adjusted downward all of a sudden.

Reminds me of the gas prices

Reminds me of the gas prices vs economizing issue. Gas prices increase so people will drive less. But since that means less income for the oil companies, they raise prices.

--
Michael J. Moonitz Massapequa, NY C340, N650, N660, N1490T, N2797 LMT, NuviCam

It always has been...

rlallos wrote:
LongAce wrote:

Thanks for the article. Obviously it's all about $$$

It's always about the money. sad

...and always will be!

--
It is impossible to rightly govern a nation without God and the Bible. ----George Washington

Get rid of the cameras

This is yet another example of why these cameras need to be banned. How many examples do we need before it happens?

Shouldn't That Be...?

LMChu wrote:

$ $ $ and more $

Actually, shouldn't that be " $ and now more $ $ $ "..!!..? wink

Nuvi1300WTGPS

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

This is obviously driven by

This is obviously driven by money and not safety!

--
Maps -> Wife -> Garmin 12XL -> StreetPilot 2610 -> Nuvi 660 (blown speaker) -> Nuvi 3790LMT

Federal Guidelines??

-Nomad- wrote:

A quote from the article:

Quote:

The 10 News Investigators discovered the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) quietly changed the state's policy on yellow intervals in 2011, reducing the minimum below federal recommendations.

Behind the backs of citizens they lowered the time to below the Federal guidelines - can anyone claim they're using the RLC's for safety reasons?

I am trying to find out what the National Standards/Recommendations/Guidelines are. In the above quote both recommendations and guidelines are used.

If we stay with National Guidelines (as opposed to National Standards which I think do not exist), then the best I can determine is that we would be talking about the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) formula which is

Quote:

Y = t + [(1.47 + V(85)) / (2d + 2Gg)]

Y = yellow duration in seconds

t = reaction time = 1 s

V(85) = 85th percentile speed in mi/h

d = deceleration=10ft/s2

G = grade in ft/ft

g = acceleration due to gravity = 32.2ft/s2

Now on Slashdot--

Slashdot (http://slashdot.org) is a site for ... well, folks like me; nerds, techies, whatever.

Slashdot follows stories of interest to the tech crowd, and this one just hit the front page. You can bet it's going to get a very wide spread from here!

--
Nuvi 2460, 680, DATUM Tymserve 2100, Trimble Thunderbolt, Ham radio, Macintosh, Linux, Windows

Safety

The only safe thing to do now is to slam on the brakes for yellow lights.

California...

...did had to refund money for the tickets they issued for thousands of people for this. An old retired man filed lawsuit for the supreme court. He timed lights in many intersection and proved it if you go in to the yellow you end it up in the middle of the read when the light turned red. It was impossible to beat the yellow.All it is needs a guy like him , file a suit against them and prove this with a video. One city is not in off if it is so widespread.Now many of this lights are owned by outside out of state companies. They split the profit like 80/20 means only 20 percent goes to the municipalities. The California red light monster company is (the head quarter)located in Arizona but the company is Australian. So i think Florida is asking for a lawsuit , someone with a little knowledge could trigger it.

Entering

Around here, you have not run the red light unless you enter the intersection on red. If you enter on yellow, it does not matter if the light turns red before you clear the intersection. Running a red light requires you to run the red light, not a yellow light.

--
-Quest, Nuvi 1390T

It's that way in most places

ddeerrff wrote:

Around here, you have not run the red light unless you enter the intersection on red. If you enter on yellow, it does not matter if the light turns red before you clear the intersection. Running a red light requires you to run the red light, not a yellow light.

And that's the way red light cameras operate when they're not deliberately abused to send out invalid tickets. They take video or 2+ still photos which prove you crossed the stop line after the light changed to red. If the visual evidence shows you crossed the line when the light was yellow, so that you were already in the middle of the intersection when the light changed to red, you're not supposed to be ticketed.

This doesn't matter much if the timing of the lights is set so short that it's very difficult to safely stop without crossing the line once the light goes to yellow.

--
JMoo On

This proves it isn't about safety in Florida

If it were about safety, they'd be making the yellow lights one second longer, not one second shorter, and not shorter than national standards in a state that has a very high number of out-of-state drivers.

Shortening yellow lights at red light camera intersections is likely to increase the risk, possibly sharply, for rear-end collisions. It may even slightly increase the risk for the more deadly T-bone collisions.

See:
http://phys.org/news/2012-09-length-yellow-caution-traffic-a...

The only reason to shorten yellow lights at red-light camera intersections is to increase ticket revenue. Shame on every Florida state legislator and regulator who supported this. They are not serving the public interest.

--
JMoo On

that's not what I read

dagarmin wrote:

If it were about safety, they'd be making the yellow lights one second longer, not one second shorter, and not shorter than national standards in a state that has a very high number of out-of-state drivers. Shortening yellow lights at red light camera intersections increases the risk for rear-end collisions and may increase the risk for the more deadly T-bone collisions. The only reason to shorten yellow lights at red-light camera intersections is to increase ticket revenue. Shame on every Florida state legislator and regulator who supported this. They are not serving the public interest.

Nowhere in the article did it talk about shortening the light cycle by 1 second or more. The figures provided showed tenths of a second at most. The change by FDOT was to base the timing on the posted speed for the street or highway not the speed traveled by drivers. The only ones "punished" by the change are those driving over the posted speed. It still comes down to the question are YOU going to take responsibility for the operation of your vehicle or are you going to blame the local authorities for your failure to adequately plan for travel times and your failures to operate your vehicle in a manner proscribed by law?

If a speed limit on a street is too low, then petition to have the limit reviewed. Many speed limits and prima facie speed limits were set in the 1950s and haven't kept pace with the changes in vehicles. But then, it's so much easier to just bitch about a camera that takes photos of people breaking the law than it is to take an active part in getting the law changed.

--
ɐ‾nsǝɹ Just one click away from the end of the Internet

My apologies but you missed the point

I apologize for mischaracterizing the story as saying that yellow-light timing standards allowed one-second or more reductions. It does not say that. If I could still edit my post to remove the incorrect information I posted, I would, but it's no longer possible to do that.

However I stand by the main point I made in the post. Whether the lights are shortened by 1+ second or by tenths of a second, you have the same result. It puts government revenue, private company profits, and legislator lobbying donations all ahead of public safety. What Florida did is indefensible.

--
JMoo On

Really..

Doesn't surprise me.

How?

a_user wrote:

Nowhere in the article did it talk about shortening the light cycle by 1 second or more. The figures provided showed tenths of a second at most. The change by FDOT was to base the timing on the posted speed for the street or highway not the speed traveled by drivers. The only ones "punished" by the change are those driving over the posted speed. It still comes down to the question are YOU going to take responsibility for the operation of your vehicle or are you going to blame the local authorities for your failure to adequately plan for travel times and your failures to operate your vehicle in a manner proscribed by law?

If a speed limit on a street is too low, then petition to have the limit reviewed. Many speed limits and prima facie speed limits were set in the 1950s and haven't kept pace with the changes in vehicles. But then, it's so much easier to just bitch about a camera that takes photos of people breaking the law than it is to take an active part in getting the law changed.

The only ones changing laws are those in charge. They keep stacking the deck against us. Please explain how we're supposed to actually change laws. I'm all ears (eyes).

be an activist

I believe want a_user said was "But then, it's so much easier to just bitch about a camera that takes photos of people breaking the law than it is to take an active part in getting the law changed."

There are several examples reported with glee by thenewspaper.com, National Motorist Association and BanTheCams about those cities where a referendum was placed on the ballot for a municipal election and the cameras were voted out.

Houston comes to mind

Shortening Yellow Lights

Shortening yellow lights could lead to more wrecks. If only the RLC yellow lights are shortened, then this should be discrimination to only RLC cameras. Someone in a wreck that can prove the shortened yellow light caused the accident needs to bring a major law suit. Florida, especially South Florida, is known for scams and this is just another scam to line the pockets of the municipalities.

not the end of it

jgermann wrote:

I believe want a_user said was "But then, it's so much easier to just bitch about a camera that takes photos of people breaking the law than it is to take an active part in getting the law changed."

There are several examples reported with glee by thenewspaper.com, National Motorist Association and BanTheCams about those cities where a referendum was placed on the ballot for a municipal election and the cameras were voted out.

Houston comes to mind

wasn't that the one the red light camera company sued and got a judge to rule the referendum was invalid.

Just a second!

I will take it as face value that if a yellow light is shortened by X-tenths of a second, some % additional cars will "run" the red light.
Conversely, if a light is Lengthened by X-tenths of a second, some % Fewer cars will "run" the red light.

The presumption is that running a red light is unsafe and undesirable.

Have you ever heard a politician justify new taxes and spending by saying "If it helps just one child..."

Amazing that increasing safety is as easy and FREE as lengthening a yellow light.

Yes

blake7mstr wrote:

Not the end of it.

wasn't that the one the red light camera company sued and got a judge to rule the referendum was invalid.

that is true.

Not often

grtlake wrote:

I will take it as face value that if a yellow light is shortened by X-tenths of a second, some % additional cars will "run" the red light.
Conversely, if a light is Lengthened by X-tenths of a second, some % Fewer cars will "run" the red light.

The presumption is that running a red light is unsafe and undesirable.

Have you ever heard a politician justify new taxes and spending by saying "If it helps just one child..."

Amazing that increasing safety is as easy and FREE as lengthening a yellow light.

Not many politicians have the guts to suggest a need for more taxes even though most realize that our country's infrastructure is crumbling; that climate change is going to cause rises in sea level that may out Miami and New York under water in the near term due to storm surges and permanently in perhaps 50 to 100 years; and, that we need to invest more in education.

Even though I am an advocate of cameras, I personally think that Florida ought to be adding one half second to their yellow light timings because they have such a large elderly population and because they have so many tourist whose yellow timings are now longer than Florida (after the recent reductions - be they only tenths of a second)

Speaking of "child", according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for those between the ages of 3 and 34.

RLC

Who is breaking the law... these towns are breaking the law to raise money. There is a minimum time to be safe. If the city is lowering the time the light is on, they are putting people in dangerous.
Some cities increased the time the yellow lights are on and they had less people running red lights. People felt safer, less revenue, but safer streets.
The company that installs RLCs is also to blame. The company is lobbying for politicians to go with rlc in order for them to secure revenue not having safer streets. Shame,shame!!!

Indoctrination for today

jgermann wrote:
grtlake wrote:

I will take it as face value that if a yellow light is shortened by X-tenths of a second, some % additional cars will "run" the red light.
Conversely, if a light is Lengthened by X-tenths of a second, some % Fewer cars will "run" the red light.

The presumption is that running a red light is unsafe and undesirable.

Have you ever heard a politician justify new taxes and spending by saying "If it helps just one child..."

Amazing that increasing safety is as easy and FREE as lengthening a yellow light.

Not many politicians have the guts to suggest a need for more taxes even though most realize that our country's infrastructure is crumbling; that climate change is going to cause rises in sea level that may out Miami and New York under water in the near term due to storm surges and permanently in perhaps 50 to 100 years; and, that we need to invest more in education.

Even though I am an advocate of cameras, I personally think that Florida ought to be adding one half second to their yellow light timings because they have such a large elderly population and because they have so many tourist whose yellow timings are now longer than Florida (after the recent reductions - be they only tenths of a second)

Speaking of "child", according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for those between the ages of 3 and 34.

Talking points at their best!

Politicians have no guts to recommend tax increases, they are simply the typical bail-out instead of trying to find real solutions.

I still haven't figured out how a tax on carbon will stop climate change. The day the climate stops changing will be the day the eco-balance of this planet will cease .... and so will we!

We are champions in "investing" in education. We are losers/incompetent in managing this investment. More money is clearly not needed in this area ... only responsible spending. Of course, responsible spending is not politically popular, so we must endure what we elect!

Remember, when reviewing statistics (or designer data), that anyone can torture data enough to have it say anything they want!

--
If the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem quickly resembles a nail. (Maslow's Hammer)

RLC in Florida

As long as JM keeps posting the locations, I won't ever have a problem.

--
1490LMT 1450LMT 295w

Ditto

spokybob wrote:

As long as JM keeps posting the locations, I won't ever have a problem.

I agree ...Very usefull! Thanks JM.

--
If the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem quickly resembles a nail. (Maslow's Hammer)

DOH-DOH-DOH

DOH-DOH-DOH

--
nuvi 250 --> 1250T --> 265T Lost my 1250T

Other States

I sure hope the people of Tampa Bay try to do something about this. If they get away with it, I'm sure other cities in Florida will adopt this practice and then it will spread to other states. I have suspected this practice in my town but haven't been able to verify it.

Great Thread

This is an excellent thread. I'm passing this on to a fellow staffer and our best investigative reporter to see if our local jurisdictions have abused this issue. Polk County, Florida has many red light camera intersections.

The legislature....

needs to address this issue. For safety reasons there should be standards on at least the state, if not federal, level to prevent municipalities from doing this.

wasn't it...

gatorj wrote:

needs to address this issue. For safety reasons there should be standards on at least the state, if not federal, level to prevent municipalities from doing this.

Wasn't it FDOT that set the new minimum standards in 2011 for all cities in the state?

I have seen this happen

Right here in central Iowa. Clive shortened the yellow lights. Probably for safety though. I know this because they said they are not out for the money.

Had not seen that.

rvrrat wrote:

{I have seen this happen} [r]ight here in central Iowa. Clive shortened the yellow lights. Probably for safety though. I know this because they said they are not out for the money.

Is this recent? To my knowledge, Clive has never been mentioned by articles claiming that certain cities "shortened" yellow lights.

Can you provide a link to a news article?

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