Red light cameras don't appear to be going away, so it should come as no surprise that neither are the controversies around them. We're told again and again that they're about safety, not revenue collection, yet year after year, the studies and headlines compete to support and tear down those arguments. An investigative report by Florida's WTSP Channel 10 News gets the maelstrom whirling again, having found that various state municipalities have shorted yellow light times to below those recommended by the US Department of Transportation.

The retiming of yellow lights was precipitated by a change the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) made to its guidelines for yellow-light durations. Until 2011, the regulations "mandated yellow light calculations factor in either the posted speed limit or 85th percentile of drivers' actual speed – whichever was greater." That year, though, the phrase "whichever was greater" was cut, and certain cities began resetting the yellow lights to illuminate for the shorter interval – either trying to ensure more safety or more revenue. The FDOT says the new language was only meant to establish a minimum time for yellow lights, not to dictate their exact duration.

Various US government studies and reports recommend not using a road's speed limit when determining the length of the yellow light because it increases violations and crashes, but instead using the traffic's 85th percentile speed or the speed limit plus ten miles per hour.

More than one study has found that people want red light cameras, studies have also shown that while major accidents have been reduced at intersections with cameras, smaller fender-bender accidents have increased, and that's not an isolated finding. And with so much money in play – the Channel 10 news report says Florida collect about $100 million in red light camera fines last year and could get to $130 million this year – it's no wonder cities shorten yellow light times below the minimum guidelines, manipulate accident data, robo-sign tickets with the names of dead police officers, and redesign their license plates to make them easier for the cameras to read.

Check out the news segment in the video below and head over to the WTSP site for all of the numbers and specifics, and if you're in Florida, you'll need to pay even more attention to the lights in front and the traffic behind.



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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 59 Comments
      Brain Roopull
      • 2 Years Ago
      This happened here in the 'burbs of Atlanta, GA. When the cops got busted, the cameras were turned off. I don't know of any remaining & functioning red light cameras in my area. The slowing of yellows is actually even more dangerous for larger & slower moving vehicles. They're traveling at or below the speed limit, and still don't have time to stop. Let's all kill people for money! -your local government.
      Dvanos
      • 2 Years Ago
      If it don't make dollars it don't make sense, everyone except the average Joe is benefiting from this. Politicians, the State, the city and the camera company. This kind of stuff makes me puke.
        1454
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Dvanos
        Exactly, but I'm the "crazy" one for wanting to scale back government and calling them out for the theifs they are.
        MistyGreen
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Dvanos
        And the average fella about to cross the street when someone is zipping through the intersection thinking they can make it. He benefits.
          flychinook
          • 2 Years Ago
          @MistyGreen
          He benefits just the same without shortening the yellow light.
      Astutent
      • 2 Years Ago
      Tear them down
      JohnM
      • 2 Years Ago
      From the state that brought you "Flashing your headlights at oncoming traffic to let them know there is a speed trap ahead is illegal" we bring you this gem.
        Donny Hoover
        • 2 Years Ago
        @JohnM
        Didn't the Supreme Court overturn that on grounds of free speech?
          Jim Pease
          • 9 Months Ago
          @Donny Hoover

          Not sure if it was SCOTUS but I do remember the law as determined to violate a person 1st Amendment rights.

      Judah Richardson
      • 2 Years Ago
      Most traffic law enforcement is basically a revenue grab for municipalities anyway.
      Jaybird248
      • 2 Years Ago
      This is outrageous! If you live in Florida, send a link to this to everyone you know in the state, and especially to your local newspaper and other media. Only widespread publicity will get action to correct this scam.
      MistyGreen
      • 2 Years Ago
      Shortening yellow lights? That sounds really ignorant and dangerous, unless they're extending the time before any other lights turn green by the same amount. Then I could understand it, but it's still sketchy. In general though, I'm all for ticketing people who cut me off in intersections because they went through a red light. I get sick of it happening every day.
      Patrick
      • 2 Years Ago
      Does this mean we will soon see yellow light braking technology infused into automobiles in the near future?
      Porsche4life
      • 2 Years Ago
      Oh man i really don't know what say anymore This is just another way for the government to suck every penny you have. And wonder where all this money is going and our debt keeps going up and up.. Time will tell all.
      SAMc
      • 2 Years Ago
      Got a rolling right-on-red ticket here in Ohio, slowed down but not a 'complete stop', $98.
      MONTEGOD7SS
      • 2 Years Ago
      The state legislature here is doing all they can to make them illegal, without actually making them illegal. They can't be within a mile of a speed limit change, can't get right turn on red violations, and all tickets have to be reviewed by a sworn LEO. Most of them now have been turned off, and lo and behold people aren't smashing into each other can killing them.
        Jaybird248
        • 2 Years Ago
        @MONTEGOD7SS
        Reviewed by an LEO? Do you really think that a cop assigned to give tickets as his job won't give as many as he can?
      jebibudala
      • 2 Years Ago
      Yellow lights are useless anyway. There should only be red and green, just like our brake and accelerator pedals should be just like an ON and OFF switch.
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