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Transportation Government The Almighty Buck

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

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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  • 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.

  • 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 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

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

    by danheskett ( 178529 ) <> 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

  • 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): []

  • by pjbgravely ( 751384 ) <pjbgravely2@g m a> 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 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.

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