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Transportation Government The Almighty Buck

Florida DOT Cuts Yellow Light Delay Ignoring Federal Guidelines, Citations Soar 507

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the safety-is-our-last-concern dept.
New submitter zlives writes in with news that Florida's DOT changed some language in their yellow light timing regulations, leading to a decrease in the yellow delay. Especially at lights with red light cameras. "From the article: 'Red light cameras generated more than $100 million in revenue last year in approximately 70 Florida communities, with 52.5 percent of the revenue going to the state. The rest is divided by cities, counties, and the camera companies. In 2013, the cameras are on pace to generate $120 million.' I wonder what the camera company cut is?" At least one area has promised to undo the reduction now that they have been caught.
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Florida DOT Cuts Yellow Light Delay Ignoring Federal Guidelines, Citations Soar

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  • by erroneus (253617) on Thursday May 16, 2013 @04:36PM (#43744617) Homepage

    This has been proven to put the public at risk of property damage, of injury and of loss of life.

    The people who made this decision need to be removed from office at the very least and potentially criminally prosecuted for endangerment [of a child].

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 16, 2013 @04:41PM (#43744651)

      Wont someone think of the kickbacks?

      • No, no, no. You need to be heavy with faux rage about 'those speeders driving nicer cars than you who need to be punished' and how clipping the yellow lights to sub-microsecond timings somehow accomplishes this. It's best if you work the jealousy in by invoking some sort of inner strike present during someone's long forgotten high school years: "Those rich bastards driving their BMWs and Benzs totally deserve to get hit for driving through yellow lights. They could have hit someone! I was once out, minding

    • by Seumas (6865) on Thursday May 16, 2013 @04:53PM (#43744787)

      Like any government agency, police departments don't exist with the main priority of protecting and serving. Their primarily purpose is to generate revenue.

    • by Mitreya (579078) <mitreya.gmail@com> on Thursday May 16, 2013 @05:04PM (#43744881)

      The people who made this decision need to be removed from office at the very least and potentially criminally prosecuted for endangerment [of a child].

      I bet you that they have immunity of some sort. That is the problem

      If people who make such decisions knew it could really bite them in the ass (as in fines and jail), they would think twice or thrice on these decisions.

      • > I bet you that they have immunity of some sort. That is the problem

        I bet they don't have immunity to a baseball bat. If any parents actually had a kid injured at one of those intersections - even if the light timings were not at fault - someone may well decide to take justice into their own hands...

    • by alen (225700)

      don't drive so close behind someone

      aren't you supposed to be 2-3 seconds behind someone?

      • by Kasamir (1792648) on Thursday May 16, 2013 @05:13PM (#43744973)
        The problem with that is in a lot of cases if you follow at a safe distance, somone will merge into your lane in between you.
        • Then move back to a safe distance again. If I am in slow traffic I will sometimes tailgate just enough to keep others from cutting me off, but usually it isn't worth the extra 10 seconds I gain.
          • by SuperKendall (25149) on Thursday May 16, 2013 @06:02PM (#43745499)

            Then move back to a safe distance again.

            So what you didn't see because you are so totally oblivious to how traffic really works, is that your repeated braking/slowing to get back to a safe distance is causing huge traffic snarls for miles behind you as the effect of slight variations in speed is magnified massively in a ripple effect behind you. This is pissing everyone off, putting many drivers in a bad mood and everyone at greater risk of an accident.

            Rather than making things safer, you have made everything much worse.

            • by pjbgravely (751384) <pjbgravely2@g[ ]l.com ['mai' in gap]> on Thursday May 16, 2013 @06:12PM (#43745627) Homepage Journal
              Brake?, why would anyone use the brake to slow down? I let off the gas and slowly make a safe distance between me and the car that cut me off. I will not rear end anyone ever, and leaving a safe distance does that.

              I actually get rid of the ripples in traffic. Instead of racing to the red light, I time my speed so the the light is clear just as I get to it. Traffic in front of me is rippled and smooth behind me.
            • by lessthan (977374)

              He is not responsible for the actions of another. If everybody let their rage and inattention behind, driving would be much safer. Utopia isn't achievable, but it is only through the efforts of everyone that we can approach it. The best any of us can do is act in good faith and with caution, while hoping everyone is doing the same.

            • Do you honestly believe that tailgating someone who performed a safe and legal lane change makes things safer? "Golly gee, I sure am glad he didn't introduce any unnecessary ripple effects by not slowing down!" said no-one ever as you slam into the bumper of the person in front of you, tying up traffic in your lane for 30 minutes or more while you exchange insurance information.
              Or maybe the idea of inconveniencing someone else during their commute causes you such a large amount of stress that you're afraid
            • by AthanasiusKircher (1333179) on Thursday May 16, 2013 @10:22PM (#43747903)

              So what you didn't see because you are so totally oblivious to how traffic really works, is that your repeated braking/slowing to get back to a safe distance is causing huge traffic snarls for miles behind you as the effect of slight variations in speed is magnified massively in a ripple effect behind you.

              I'll note that the GP already responded and noted that he doesn't generally brake, which is appropriate in this circumstance. He just keeps the distance open.

              I don't think you realize how traffic works. The reason why "snarls" and "ripple effects" occur is due to sudden braking, usually caused by people driving too aggressively and changing lanes (causing others to be cut off and brake suddenly) or not gradually slowing when coming up on the driver in front, but instead hitting the accelerator until braking at the last possible moment to end up 6 inches behind the guy's bumper in front of you.

              Those are the maneuvers that actually cause ripples and traffice snarls. You want to prevent them? Don't drive aggressively. Leave enough space to brake when needed.

              You want to solve them? Drive like the GP. Ever notice how 18-wheelers drive on a highway in heavy stop-and-start traffic? Notice how they generally let giant holes open in front of them? Even though some aggressive people will hop inside those holes, the truckers are actually trying to solve the traffic jam. If they can drive a constant 30 MPH or 20 MPH so that all the traffic is moving, it can actually clear the jam. Instead, if everyone suddenly accelerates to 40 MPH and then slows down to a stop a mile later just to keep on the tail of the person in front of them, it will actually take the jam many times longer to clear.

              This is doubly true whenever some sort of lane change or merge is the cause of the traffic problem -- traffic has transition equivalents to laminar and turbulent flow in fluid dynamics. If you try to push through too many cars too fast, things will become turbulent, and soon the flow will be impeded. Instead, if people always maintain a reasonable distance and speed, making small adjustments rather than large accelerations and sudden braking, you can actually push more cars through faster than you would with repeated stops and starts.

              In effect, by trying to drive at roughly constant speeds, and by leaving a gap in front to avoid making sudden maneuvers (as well as allowing others to move into that gap if need be rather than abruptly stopping themselves), you can actually increase traffic throughput, even if your top speed is much lower.

              If you don't get how this is possible, spend some time with a simulation developed by actual experts in traffic dynamics, such as one here [traffic-simulation.de].

              This is pissing everyone off, putting many drivers in a bad mood and everyone at greater risk of an accident.

              Maintaining a safe following distance with no sudden accelerations, braking, or sudden lane changes is a very safe way to drive. If you are the one changing lanes to get around this guy and get home 10 seconds earlier, you're the one actually causing the traffic problems, not to mention putting everyone at greater risk of accidents.

              Oh, and because your maneuvers are more likely to cause jams in the first place, you -- and others like you -- are actually the ones responsible for everyone getting home 15 minutes later by trying to save that 10 seconds.

    • by bondsbw (888959) on Thursday May 16, 2013 @05:07PM (#43744909)

      This pisses me off so much. Research studies have shown that increasing amber delays is one of the best ways to reduce both fatal and non-fatal collisions at intersections.

      These municipalities think that more red light camera revenue = more money = great and glorious government. They forget two things:

      - Fines, cost of repairs, and insurance premiums eat away at their citizens' bank accounts. Less money = less spending = less sales taxes, and a lot of angry, pissed off citizens.

      - It's not a zero-sum game within the closed system of citizens and the government. The vendors get a lot of those fines.

      So the net result is a slower economy, tax revenue is not nearly as high as expected, and vendors line their pockets.

      (I recently worked for years in the highway safety sector, and one of my colleagues, a former cop, did a research paper on this subject. He started the research with a high opinion of red light cameras, but found that red light cameras had no significant effect on fatalities while significantly increasing non-fatal collisions.)

      • by Bacon Bits (926911) on Thursday May 16, 2013 @05:38PM (#43745207)

        (I recently worked for years in the highway safety sector, and one of my colleagues, a former cop, did a research paper on this subject. He started the research with a high opinion of red light cameras, but found that red light cameras had no significant effect on fatalities while significantly increasing non-fatal collisions.)

        I'll ask you since I'd like to know: I've heard that one of the most positive innovations for traffic lights is the inclusion of a "timer bar". A bar light along side the normal traffic signals indicates how long the single has until it changes. I've heard that the places it was tested vastly reduced the number of collisions and injuries. Is there any truth to that?

        The "reason they haven't been implemented" is supposedly because they vastly reduce people running red lights while being significantly more expensive, and so vastly reduce red light camera revenue while raising operating costs. Having worked in a government office, I'm willing to believe that the "more expensive" portion alone was enough to make municipalities avoid them. I'm just curious if there's any truth to it.

        • In my town, the walk/don't walk signs have a display that counts down the seconds left for the "walk" time. Then the red "don't walk" symbol pops up, and shortly after that the light turns yellow.

          It's extremely helpful -- if I'm half a block away and the sign says 12 seconds left, I know I'm going to get through the light on green. If I see 2 seconds left, I know it'll be red and there's no point in doing anything other than coasting.

          The signs we have look sort of like this (but without the glasses looking symbol on top): http://safety.fhwa.dot.gov/ped_bike/tools_solve/ped_scdproj/webinar052809/las_vegas/images/image081.jpg [dot.gov]

        • by toddestan (632714) on Thursday May 16, 2013 @08:17PM (#43747093)

          One thing that would be cheap and effective in my mind would be to take the yellow time multiplied by the speed limit, and paint a line on the road that distance away from the light. That would take some of the guesswork out of yellow lights. That is, if you are driving the speed limit and the light turns yellow - if you past the line you can proceed through the intersection, and if you are behind the line you need to stop. No having to make a quick judgment of your speed and your distance from the light and guessing of the length of the yellow. This would have a secondary benefit that once the line is in place, it would make it tougher for them to arbitrarily change the yellow light time because then they would have to send a crew out to repaint the line on the road.

    • by thoromyr (673646) on Thursday May 16, 2013 @05:19PM (#43745023)

      in Missouri the state supreme court ruled against Springfield, MO for the installation and operation of red light cameras. Unfortunately, this fact is not well known and there are other operations in the state. If you get a red light camera based ticket in Missouri, don't pay it.

      http://www.thenewspaper.com/news/30/3067.asp [thenewspaper.com]

    • what about endangerment of the rest of us? killing an adult is just as bad as killing a kid
      • I've always been curious as to what the cutoff age is.

        If a 1-year-old dying in an accident is a tragedy and a 25-year-old dying in an accident is just a statistic, when does it switch?

    • I put them in my GPS as closed areas and route around them when possible. I let the businesses in the area that don't want the visitors only serve the local pedestrian traffic.

      Want me to not visit a particular section of town, install automated systems to take my money without merchandise in exchange. I'll cut the money leak or avoid it altogether.

      There are sections of town here I don't visit. Some are due to the reputation of the neighborhoods. Some due to the excessive costs of visiting the area.

    • States are allowed by the U.S. Constitution to be douche bags so long as they do not impinge upon interstate commerce or other federal juridictions. Florida has historically just been a bit douchier than most and this is simply an illustration of that.
    • by scamper_22 (1073470) on Thursday May 16, 2013 @06:48PM (#43746143)

      One of the things that has been missed in the progressive enlargement of government by both the left and right is that the constitution has not been updated.

      At a general level, the constitution is an agreement on HOW the people agree to be government.

      So for things like say police powers, we have pretty good laws on it. There are problems here and there, but the DISCUSSION is always around the limits.

      We grant the police the power to enforce the law, but we impose various limits on them (need warrants, trails, juries...)

      Yet, when the progressive mentality took over on both the left and right, they made the argument that the constitution held back what people wanted government to do. Whether true or not, it left a vacuum. Government took over power in new areas without any constraints on itself. In all the 'new' areas, government can basically do whatever it wants. The only recourse people have is the ballot box. This might work for big issues, but not so much for all the little issues that ultimately affect government.

      Government have begun using regulations to control people's behavior to a large extent. Again, whether you agree with it or not is not important. What is important is what are the regulation ON government to make sure it is acting in the correct interest.

      Here's an example of the kind of constraints on government to regulate it to help it acts correctly.

      1. All fines shall go to a fund used solely to compensate victims of such activity. So all traffic fines go to traffic victims. This pretty much removes the incentive governments have to use fines as revenue. Heck, I don't even think fines should pay for the regulating agency.
      I have a saying that goes like this: "If something is worth regulating, it is worth regulating via general taxation"

      While not law in Sweden, Sweden has experimented with having a lottery for traffic fine revenue... again... a much better system of making sure the law is not being used for revenue and creates an incentive for drivers to follow the regulation. If you are not caught speeding, you are entered into a lottery to win the money collected by the fines.

      But like I said, as the progressives on both the left and right moved towards expanding the power of government, they skipped any amendments to the constitution in favor of a living constitution, and thus skipped the process of setting any regulations on themselves in the new areas.

      Worrying about the people who made such a decision is hardly an effective mechanism. Democracy has many such short comings. Part of the reason we have rights and regulations on governments and other such items, so that we are not simply at the mercy of elected politicians.

      I'd be more worried about those that created the highway traffic act and other such rule books without any concern for regulating government itself.

  • by gstrickler (920733) on Thursday May 16, 2013 @04:38PM (#43744627)

    There must be sufficient time for a fully loaded semi-trailer to react to the change, and safely come to a stop, or proceed through the intersection, from at least 5mph under to 5mph over the posted speed limit, in wet road conditions, or it's not safe. These cities are risking your safety to raise more money from bogus fines.

    • by IamTheRealMike (537420) <mike@plan99.net> on Thursday May 16, 2013 @04:48PM (#43744717) Homepage

      I don't think it's just Florida that's abusing traffic citations for profit. I visited Santa Cruz, CA on Sunday and parked by the beach. There were cars on either side of me, white space dividing lines and a meter right in front of the space where I parked. I got a $48 citation for "parking in a red zone". So I called them up and asked what this meant, it means "no parking at any time under any circumstances". That means the ticket was quite obviously wrong as no-parking zones don't have parking meters in them.

      I don't see any way this can be an honest mistake. You can't write out a ticket saying a car parked in a no parking zone whilst standing next to a meter with plenty of time left on it.The ticket itself, their contact line and their website all make the appeals process rather prominent so apparently they get a lot of appeals. Unfortunately you only get two weeks to appeal, I'm not staying in California, I'll be on vacation next week and then I return to my home in Europe. So I'll probably just pay the $48, there's no way it makes sense to appeal a parking ticket for a rental car from the other side of the world whilst on vacation.

      This whole incident leaves a bad taste, it appears to be open and unchecked corruption on the part of municipal governments. The kind of thing I expect in a banana republic, not America.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 16, 2013 @04:53PM (#43744773)
        Rental cars and out of state license plates are always targeted for crap like that.
        • by BitterOak (537666)

          Rental cars and out of state license plates are always targeted for crap like that.

          True, but I've never paid a parking ticket I've received in an out-of-country rental car and it's never come back to haunt me.

          • You sure? Check your credit card. The rental companies typically just charge you after paying it. Just like if they found you had damaged something.

      • by Alioth (221270) <no@spam> on Thursday May 16, 2013 @04:54PM (#43744797) Journal

        If you don't live in the US, just don't pay the fine.

        • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 16, 2013 @05:01PM (#43744863)

          The rental car company pays it and charges it to your credit card.

        • by D1G1T (1136467) on Thursday May 16, 2013 @05:05PM (#43744891)
          No, do pay it. Otherwise the ticket will be charged to the rental agency, who will charge your credit card for the fine and probably a large processing fee as per your rental agreement. Your $50 fine can easily become $250.
          • WORD -this happened to me in Italy several year ago.

            I was in Florence in the summer and went through a 'no congestion' zone more than twice in 20 minutes or whatever the time limit was

            apparently in the winter when tourism drops they just have people review video footage or something because 6 months later I got a $150 charge from the rental company

            Since they didn't notify me I first thought it was a fraudulent charge, so I contested it at first and then they sent me the date and time of the infraction and I
      • So I'll probably just pay the $48, there's no way it makes sense to appeal a parking ticket for a rental car from the other side of the world whilst on vacation.

        Somewhat like the rationale behind many patent trolls: ''Just pay the £20,000 license fee, it is not worth a £1,000,000 legal fight''. I wonder if these guys are related ?

      • by alen (225700)

        NYC we have meters in no parking zones all the time. you have to read the sings.

        in most of manhattan only commercial vehicles are allowed to park on the street and have to pay the meter. private cars will get towed except for sundays

        in some areas you have to be a local resident to park in some places

      • by jazman_777 (44742)

        This whole incident leaves a bad taste, it appears to be open and unchecked corruption on the part of municipal governments. The kind of thing I expect in a banana republic, not America.

        "America" and "banana republic" are one and the same now.

      • There is no point in paying an USA parking ticket if you,ive in europe, either.
        They habe no chance to get you and to pay it.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 16, 2013 @05:31PM (#43745131)

        I went to college in Santa Cruz. While I was there, there was a big PR nightmare where the city threatened to arrest a man who would walk around the city dressed as a clown putting quarters in meters that were about to expire. They eventually got him to stop, but it showed how committed the city was to revenue generation through parking fines. My guess is the appeals process is a long line where you tell them your side of the story and they respond, "no."

    • by Culture20 (968837) on Thursday May 16, 2013 @04:49PM (#43744733)
      And this is Florida, so there is a higher percentage of people with poor reaction times.
    • by MaerD (954222)

      From my experience when I lived in florida, delays on lights all around were too short for the way traffic drives. In Florida it was typically a good idea to sit at a green light for a second to make sure traffic stopped moving, or you'll get creamed. In VA and NC that practice gets you honked at as soon as the light turns green.

      Can Google just get self-driving cars perfected already?

    • by mark-t (151149) <[markt] [at] [lynx.bc.ca]> on Thursday May 16, 2013 @05:35PM (#43745169) Journal

      Actually, the mass of the vehicle doesn't really significantly impact the stopping distance on reasonably level grade.

      See here [gsu.edu].

    • by Ichijo (607641)

      What's unsafe is drivers of fully-loaded semi-trailers who disobey the Basic Speed Law [wisegeek.com] by driving the posted speed limit in inclement conditions.

      Remember, the posted speed limit assumes ideal conditions, not the one you're describing. It's unsafe to drive the posted speed limit on ice or in heavy fog, and you can be cited for it.

      • Remember what? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by SuperKendall (25149) on Thursday May 16, 2013 @06:08PM (#43745579)

        Remember, the posted speed limit assumes ideal conditions

        No, it assumes you have a car made 30 years ago with tires made 30 years ago.

        It also assumes the state can make a lot of money by keeping speed limits at figures that are far lower than what your car can safely handle.

  • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Thursday May 16, 2013 @04:38PM (#43744629)

    The #1 thing you can do to reduce collisions in an intersection is lengthen the yellow. Go ask AAA, they've got plenty of data on it.

    Shit like this, and this is not the first time it happens, proves that traffic cameras are 100% NOT about safety, they are about money.

    • by Rinikusu (28164) on Thursday May 16, 2013 @04:43PM (#43744675)

      Absolutely.

      And.. Fuck Florida.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Alioth (221270)

      Well, better driver training probably has a bigger impact. The yellow phase in the UK is probably half what it is in Florida, yet the accident rate in the UK is well under half of what it is in the US despite the UK having a far greater population density and busier roads than Florida. What I've noticed in Florida is for traffic signals, green means go, yellow means go faster and red means the next six vehicles may pass through the intersection.

      Drivers here are taught to observe well ahead, and also that if

      • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 16, 2013 @05:34PM (#43745165)

        The "Yellow phase" - is actually a fixed 3 second Amber period in the UK.

        What is key the the time from the green of one phase ending to the start of a green on the conflicting phase starting. This is known as the inter-green period. This is calculated based upon distance between the two conflict points.

        The leaving amber period is fixed (3 seconds) the Red-Amber period is fixed as 2 second - hence any intergreen period that need to be longer then 5 seconds - both signals are at red (all-red) period.

        Posting as anonymous, so I do not have to pass this through the press office. Yes I am a Traffic Engineer.

    • Well, our nation is bankrupt both morally and literally, so that's kind of expected, don't you think?
      • Bankrupt, when the creditors keep coming back begging to buy more bonds at even lower interest rates?

    • by Monoman (8745)

      Increase the yellow as well as the delay for the red lights turn green. Put in more than reasonable delays and then you can hit the blatant light runners with fines.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Despite other states being the fattest or the poorest or the most violent, Florida still manages to be the worst state in the union in it's own special ways. Someone link us to that .gif of Bugs Bunny cutting Florida loose from the rest of us.

  • For stupidly small lengths of yellow lights it becomes nigh impossible to stop in time. Not only does this cause more unintentional red-light-running, it also increases wear on vehicles from hard braking. If they actually cared about safety and the environment, they'd lengthen yellow light times to give people more warning. Sadly, money drives their motivations (pun intended).
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 16, 2013 @04:46PM (#43744703)

    Doing this *endangers* the public. Switching from yellow to red too quickly for drivers to safely stop will end up causing accidents, either from slamming on their brakes or paying more attention to the light instead of the road. The point of the traffic lights is to regulate traffic flow and keep the public safe. Adjusting the time so that fewer drivers can safely stop and need to have lightning reflexes and be staring at the light instead of the road will lead to more accidents.

    I smell a lawsuit brewing which will undo all the revenues. $120 million dollars? Well, now the lawyers for the next person to get run over at one of these modified lights can sue the government for on account of the timing adjustments to "increase revenue". And you just know some lawyers out there are going to advertise their services in these areas...

    The trick is to prevent people thinking of this as revenue. It's indication of a problem. You don't want that indicator to go up. Perhaps state or federal law should pressure local governments to make that indicator go down.

    • by flayzernax (1060680) on Thursday May 16, 2013 @04:51PM (#43744765)

      It does not matter. The people getting the kickbacks will loose nothing. The people paying state sales tax, or wanting their children to get educated in a good state will eat the net loss.

      • by Daas (620469)

        " or wanting their children to get educated in a good state will eat the net loss."

        Isn't it Florida we're talking about here?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      There isn't any money in it for the lawyers. The State of Florida has sovereign immunity and any lawsuit over $150,000 requires legislative approval. Plus you would probably need to sue each individual municipality. The only time people get more money is when it is a case that tugs on the heart strings and swades public sentiment. Like a baby dying while in the care of a state hospital or maybe a man wrongly convicted of a crime that has served several decades in our luxurious state penetentary system.

  • San Diego (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jtara (133429) on Thursday May 16, 2013 @04:48PM (#43744723)

    San Diego (and several surrounding communities) recently discontinued it's red-light camera program, citing inflated fines to motorists with minimal payouts to the city, and and *increased* accident rate after installations of the cameras.

    We also had the short-yellow problem several years ago when they were first installed, which was quicky fixed after public outcry.

    Our new mayor is a jerk. But in this case, at least he is being a jerk to folks that deserve it.

  • The purpose of government throughout all human history, and most nations currently, is to allow the power-hungry a method to increase their power using the legal monopoly on offensive force by government.

    This example, one of many, shows those "few modern" governments that don't do this...do.

    Highway robbery, rent-seeking in exchange for money, rent-seeking in exchange for votes, this is the norm, not the exception.

  • by earlzdotnet (2788729) on Thursday May 16, 2013 @04:56PM (#43744807)

    Here's a better idea that wouldn't make as many people angry. Keep long yellows and remove the redlight detection. Instead, just have a camera. It takes pictures of every plate. Each hour it plays a lottery between the plates. Whoever's plate gets pulled out gets the $138 ticket.

    Sounds a bit ridiculous, but the politicians would still be getting their kick backs from the manufacturers of the lottery system, the state would still be getting income without all the bad publicity of raising taxes, and drivers would be happy not crashing into the person that slams on their brakes to stop at the light the instant it turns yellow. It's a win for everyone

    • Its not a bit ridiculous, its full retard.
    • by berashith (222128)

      this is essentially the speed management strategy in Atlanta. Everyone is driving 30 over the limit, and safely. If a cop happens to pull you over , you get the ticket. If you drive legally you will die, so you drive illegally , and trust in the odds of not getting unlucky enough to be selected too often.

      My last encounter had me matching speed of the rigs in the right lanes, but staying to the left to keep out of their way. You have to move through them to get on/off the highway, so you have to match their

  • Good Information! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cnaumann (466328) on Thursday May 16, 2013 @05:01PM (#43744855)

    Brake hard, brake often. And if you are rear-ended at an Intersection in FL, remember that the State has hundreds of millions of dollars in the pot. Sue appropriately.

    It does not matter if the intersections actually has a red light cameras, nor does it matter if the length of the yellow at that particular intersection has been decreased. It is the threat that counts.

  • by romco (61131) on Thursday May 16, 2013 @05:13PM (#43744979) Homepage

    I worked as a traffic accident investigator for a few years. Part of my job was figuring out the timing of traffic lights and if they were the cause of an accident. Shortening yellow lights kills people, old people and big trucks dont stop very fast. This is the Florida government killing people for money.

    The really sad part is if they were really clever they would shorten the yellow 1/2 a second but keep the whole intersection red for a 1/2 a second. That way they could rip off Floridians without killing them.

  • by mevets (322601) on Thursday May 16, 2013 @05:17PM (#43745011)

    I object to the word generate used in this context. The proper verb is capture, as in:
    Red light cameras captured more than 100 million in revenue....
    Even the money that could even be farcically referred to as generated - the money taken from tourists - was really captured from the Florida businesses where it otherwise would have been spent.

  • This is why (Score:4, Interesting)

    by FuzzNugget (2840687) on Thursday May 16, 2013 @05:20PM (#43745033)

    You ALWAYS challenge a ticket. Even if it's a waste of your time and money, it's also a waste of the court's time and money.

    If enough people contest their tickets, they might just create a DDoS on the system that causes it to be more expensive for the system than it's worth.

    • Re:This is why (Score:5, Interesting)

      by danheskett (178529) <danheskett AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday May 16, 2013 @05:54PM (#43745391)

      This is great advice. It's been my policy for 10 years. Every ticket, every citation, every time. No exceptions. (If you have the possibility of jail time, all bets are off, get a lawyer).

      And if you get a criminal citation (as opposed to a civil infraction), you are entitled by the Sixth Amendment to a jury trial. When arraigned, you will be asked to sign a jury trial waiver (In most states). Decline, and at every opportunity, opt for a Jury Trial.

      For the general community, here are five tips that I try to follow.

      1. On your Court date, take the entire day off from work. Often these matters are scheduled early in the day, like 8AM, but that's mostly a scam. It will take a good chunk of the day. The system is rigged to pressure you - financially - into settling. That's how they win. Even if your time is early in the day, pack a nice little lunch and bring it with you. Charge your phone, bring headphones, and a paperback book. Wear comfortable clothes that show you are READY AND WILLING to sit and wait all day.

      2. When you show up, the clerk or judge will call in everyone and have them watch a video or hear a description of your rights. They ask you if you understand. They can't move on until they get past this step. Raise your hand and ask a question. Tell the judge or clerk you couldn't hear the video or speech. Ask a question about what they say. Ask if this is the right place for divorce court. If you break the ice, several others will probably ask a few questions. Remember, this is a factory. They want to process you as quickly as possible.

      3. In a lot of States, you will have an initial appearance where you enter a plea. In many States, the Judge essentially pushes every into meeting the prosecuting attorney. You basically don't enter a plea, you say "negotiations" or "mediation". When it's your turn, tell the judge or clerk you plead innocent, and would like to have your trial. Do not request mediation or a meeting with the lawyer - this is a scam to take your time. The attorney makes a huge list and then calls people in for 5 minutes where they offer something or try to get you to plead guilty. If you do, you don't have to go back into the Court in most cases. That's the hook they use to get you to settle and pay the fine. Do not say anything to the attorney or clerk other than the fact that you would like your day in court, and would like to call witnesses. If it's a criminal citation, remind them you want a jury trial.

      4. Once you demand a trial, you'll probably have to go back into Court, and then re-affirm your plea. The purpose of this session is for the prosecutor to ask for a stay of the trial. The Judge will ask you to agree. Firmly and politely tell them that State is the one bringing the case, it is your right to a speedy trial, and that more time will not change anything. You must specifically ask for the case to be dismissed for failure to prosecute in a timely manner. On the first Court date, you will probably be denied. In my experience it's about 25% chance you'll get your case dismissed by the judge. Typically they will grant an extension. Then the date will be brought up - if it's a long ways out - more than a few weeks - ask the judge for closer date. Ask if you can come back after lunch. Ask if you can come back tomorrow. The prosecutor will object. Ask if you can come back in 7 days. Ask why they need so much time to prepare such a simple case.

      5. Once you come back, the whole thing repeats. The prosecutor knows that most times people don't come back for future dates. They simply give up. Don't give up. You'll lose and maybe end up with warrant. As soon as they pickup your file and see this is the second court date, they'll probably offer to file your case. This is like winning, but if you get another ticket in a short period of time you basically lose automatically. Don't agree to this either. Re-iterate you want a trial, or you'll accept dismissal. The attorney will now use big t

      • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 16, 2013 @07:06PM (#43746381)

        I got a bullshit citation for bicycling on a sidewalk in Queens NYC to avoid getting hit by traffic and went to the Queensborough Criminal Court where they have traffic court and did what the poster above did.

        I waited the entire day in court and declined all half price off deals and kept pleading not guilty to the judge since we all knew the cop wasn't going to show up to testify. Fucking uppity judge gave a postponement to the City prosecutor without giving me a chance to speak about my case that day and made me come back again in a few weeks. I had no chance to say anything or protest, was told come back in a few weeks.

        Well I came back to see those fucks. Same bullshit again, half price deals and pressure to cop a plea deal to pay the fuck up at the casheer at the exit and go the fuck away. Continued to plead not guilty and at the end of the second day the fucking judge called me up, told me in my face that what I did was wrong and I was guilty but since the cop isn't here I am lucky to get away with it and dismissed my case.

        All of this shit after me sitting on my ass in his kangaroo traffic court for 16 fucking hours that cost me then equivalent to $800 USD in lost wages for a $50 USD bicycle citation so I could avoid getting hit by a fucking truck while on my bicycle.

        Saw lots of scams by them taking attendance over a bad microphone and PA system in the morning and after lunch. Saw a guy loose his case because his hearing wasn't good and he missed attendance and defaulted to guilty on his case for a no show with a bench warrant being issued while he was sitting in the back waiting the whole time. Hope the old guy said something before he left otherwise he'd be fucked by NYPD. Heard them lie that the plea deals won't go on their record or increase their insurance, it does both because it's a guilt plea.

        Fuck Florida DOT yellow light shortening bastards as much as NYC injustice system. Not enough outrage and action anymore these days.

    • by turp182 (1020263)

      That's the exact reason I always asked to be searched at the airport. If 5% of the people flying requested a patdown the system would fail miserably.

      Of course I haven't flown in a few years, flying sucks in the US these days.

  • Florida (Score:4, Funny)

    by the eric conspiracy (20178) on Thursday May 16, 2013 @05:21PM (#43745051)

    Well, how about a 2nd Amendment solution to the cameras?

    Where is Sarah Palin when we need her?

    Come on Sarah, this is your chance!

  • by Charliemopps (1157495) on Thursday May 16, 2013 @05:28PM (#43745107)

    Fines and seizures should go directly into prevention programs. As crime increases so do the programs we know work.

  • by danheskett (178529) <danheskett AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday May 16, 2013 @05:32PM (#43745149)

    ..and this is a well known fact before it was in the news. Local authorities tweak lights in order to generate revenue. One bad stretch of a highway (192) is timed so that if you follow the speed limit you would run a red - but just barely - everytime.

    It's a bad recipe for fraud. Florida has auto-insurance system designed to wring $10k settlements out of insurers. You are driving along, and on each side is a blocker car. Ahead, a car stomps his brake just before a red light.

"Text processing has made it possible to right-justify any idea, even one which cannot be justified on any other grounds." -- J. Finnegan, USC.

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