Florida Changes Rules to Allow Shorter Yellow Lights, Reaps Red Light Camera Revenue
Tampa, FL (Law Firm Newswire) June 19, 2013 – A change to Florida’s rules for traffic signals allowed cities and counties to shorten yellow lights, reaping millions of dollars in fines.
In a recent report, Noah Pransky of Tampa television station WTSP covered the 2011 rule change by the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), which reduced allowable minimum intervals for yellow lights below the federal government’s recommended minimums. State and local traffic engineers then worked together to shorten yellow lights at intersections with red light cameras, the report said.
“Transportation authorities need to find ways to reduce accidents and enforce traffic laws,” said Tampa auto accident lawyer Robert Joyce. “But I’m not sure shortening yellow lights is a great way to go about that. The yellow light is a buffer between intersecting traffic, so this rule change could actually be counterproductive in terms of its effect on safety.”
FDOT had a long-standing rule for calculating minimum yellow light intervals as a function of either the posted speed limit or the 85th percentile of the actual speed of traffic, whichever is greater. But in 2011, the three words “whichever is greater” were struck from the rule, allowing local governments to re-time their signals. Pransky’s report alleges that a number of communities shortened their yellow lights, and these changes “typically took place at [red light camera enforced] intersections.”
In an interview with WTSP, an FDOT representative pointed out that it receives no direct revenue from red light cameras and therefore had no financial incentive to implement the rule change. But just over half of citation revenue from red light camera intersections goes to various state funds, including the general revenue fund. Red light cameras generated over $100 million in revenue in 2012 for some 70 Florida communities.
Two reports from the Federal Highway Administration (FHA) said that cities should not use the posted speed limit in calculating yellow light intervals and instead use the 85th percentile speed. This reduces red light violations and severe crashes. The US Department of Transportation recommends adding an extra half-second to yellow lights at intersections with a lot of elderly drivers. But despite the greater Tampa Bay area containing five of the nation’s 12 oldest counties, it also has some unusually short yellow lights.
“If a traffic signal is programmed improperly and that contributes to an auto accident, that could be the basis for a lawsuit against the governmental body responsible for the signal,” added Joyce.
Joyce and Reyes Law Firm, P.A.
307 S Hyde Park Ave,
Tampa, FL 33606
View Larger Map
- Owner of Florida pill mill sentenced to 15 years in prison
The owner of three Florida pill mills that made millions of dollars has received a 15-year prison sentence. Zachary Timothy Rose pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges and was facing up to 30 years in prison, but he received a reduced sentence after he testified against doctors who worked with him and employees of the clinics […]
- Pinellas Sheriff’s Office settles wrongful death lawsuit for Over One Million Dollars
The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office has paid $1.15 million to settle a wrongful death lawsuit with the estate of a mentally ill woman who died in the Pinellas County jail after refusing medicine and food. The payment has settled all state and federal claims against the jail and its employees. Michael DeGraw filed suit over […]
- Patients ER Visits for Brain Injuries Increase
According to a new medical report, visits to hospital emergency rooms for brain injuries have increased in recent years. The report, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, studied emergency department visits from a nationwide sample of hospitals from 2006 to 2010. During that period, the number of total emergency room visits grew […]