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

    Absolutely.

    And.. Fuck Florida.

  • 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 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 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 guruevi (827432) <evi@@@smokingcube...be> on Thursday May 16, 2013 @04:50PM (#43744745) Homepage

    People (proper) have made the case but were simply rejected. The People (the people the government works for) have a far bigger influence on this than the governed.

  • 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 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 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 Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 16, 2013 @04:54PM (#43744795)

    There is a point of diminishing returns though, once the yellow light becomes too long people tend to go through it more often.

  • 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 Alioth (221270) <no@spam> on Thursday May 16, 2013 @04:59PM (#43744843) Journal

    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 you see a signal ahead that's been green for a long time, anticipate that it may change very soon.

  • 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 msauve (701917) on Thursday May 16, 2013 @05:01PM (#43744861)
    No, their primary purpose is to assert the force of government.
  • 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.

  • 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.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 16, 2013 @05:32PM (#43745145)

    Where do you live, rural Alaska? In many urban areas, if you do that you will in fact get someone merging into that space about every 5 seconds.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 16, 2013 @05:37PM (#43745191)

    It's in the rental contract, so you will lose that appeal. And good luck renting a car without a credit card for deposit. Have you actually ever RENTED a car before?

  • 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.

  • 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 InvalidError (771317) on Thursday May 16, 2013 @06:40PM (#43746027)

    If you just want to disable them, a can of spray paint is probably your best bet. But you'll still need a ladder and some time.

    Two words: paintball gun

    No ladder required, takes seconds and relatively quiet.

  • 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 Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 16, 2013 @09:17PM (#43747505)

    Safe following distances reduce accidents period. If everyone did we wouldn't have traffic and a-holes like you would stop tailgating. I always think its funny when tailgaters ride my ass then pass me. 10 minutes later I end up at the same stop light as them. Funny how that works. Makes my commute a lot less stressful too.

"And do you think (fop that I am) that I could be the Scarlet Pumpernickel?" -- Looney Tunes, The Scarlet Pumpernickel (1950, Chuck Jones)

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