Yellow light timing questioned after investigation

Published On: May 15 2013 09:41:22 PM EDT
Updated On: May 16 2013 07:06:48 AM EDT

VIDEO: The pressure is on more drivers in our area these days, thanks to these red light cameras. But it turns out, the cameras are catching a record number of red-light-runners, drivers who some say didn't have a chance to stop. It's reported the amount of money the cameras are bringing in to local governments has jumped.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

When it comes to yellow lights, the state of Florida wants people to put on their breaks. 

An investigation conducted into the Florida DOT by a Tampa area television station revealed that the Department of Transportation shortened the length of yellow lights below national standards in 2011. 

Suspicions were raised when the investigation revealed that revenues from red light cameras have spiked since the state shortened the length of yellow lights.

What you're doing is you're decreasing the response time," said Channel 4 Crime Analyst Ken Jefferson."What I mean by that is people who run red lights are not necessarily habitual offenders."

Every time a red light camera catches a red light runner, they are ticketed and fined $158. That money goes to state and local governments. 

William Tift told Channel 4 that he is not happy he has to pay.

"I don't know about it, this is the first one I've got, I haven't had a ticket since 1988," said Tift.

Tift said he was practically through the intersection when the light turned red. Tift said he was driving at the intersection of 103rd Street and Ricker Road, which Tift claims has one of the quickest yellow lights in the city.

Channel 4 timed the yellow light at the intersection of 103rd and Ricker Road, and found it to be no shorter or longer than any other light in the city. 

According to the National Motorists Association Foundation, three seconds should be the absolute minimum time for a yellow light at any section. Channel 4 went to six different intersections and timed the yellow lights Wednesday night. Channel 4's Scott Johnson found that all the yellow lights he timed were about 3.8 seconds long.

The National Motorists Association recently released a guide to help identify potentially dangerous short yellow light times. They also listed recommended yellow light times based on speed zones:

25 MPH -- 3.0 Seconds
30 MPH -- 3.5 Seconds
35 MPH -- 4.0 Seconds
40 MPH -- 4.5 Seconds
45 MPH -- 5.0 Seconds
50 MPH -- 5.5 Seconds
55 MPH -- 6.0 Seconds

A study by the Department of Highway safety shows despite the length of a yellow light, red light cameras are doing their job. 

The Department of Highway Safety said impact crashes are down 43% at red light intersections, and statewide traffic crashes are at a five year low. 

The Florida League of Cities is arguing to keep red light cameras across the state, because they're making Fla. intersections safer for motorists.

"We actually hope that it's a declining revenue source. We hope that over time we don't have to keep writing tickets for that, because basically that would mean that people are stopping when they're supposed to stop at red lights," said Scott Dugdley of Fla. League of Cities.

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