Many cities and counties have ended their relationship with red light camera companies because of investigations on the time limit of yellow lights. The shortness of the yellow lights had a lot of locals questioning why the government would produce a program that is supposed to combat crashes and promote safety, when in actuality the government is profiting off of changing yellow light intervals. A quiet change to Florida traffic rules had allowed brief yellow lights and millions of dollars in additional fines. The first $83 of every $158 violation goes to the state of Florida. Cities and counties thereafter are left with $75 per ticket to pay off their red light camera contracts. These contracts run about $50,000 a year. Changing the policy of time intervals for yellow lights has helped cities rack up millions of dollars in fines for profit to be dispersed by generous amounts. Officials were able to specifically pick data to eliminate the risk the cameras gave to drivers on the road because of the rise in rear-end collisions and other issues to ensure the safety of the device over the cost to the drivers.
Pinellas County Yellow Light Interval
In Pinellas County, South Pasadena–the tiny city near the southern beaches–racked up $2 million in fines in one year alone because of the shortness of the yellow lights. When the city introduced red light cameras in 2011, the interval was set to 3.6 seconds when the previous year is was set to 4.0 seconds. South Pasadena only takes up just about 0.6 of a square mile and produced more revenue than any year ever. The federal safety guidelines specifically suggest that the intersection where the red light cameras were installed should have a 5.0 second yellow light. As such, several communities with red light cameras reduced the length of their yellow lights before the state law even allowed it. South Pasadena is among the many. Due to the case described and many others that are similar, cities with red light cameras were required to extend their yellow light interval at all red light camera intersections by December 31, 2015 . This was thought to have a positive effect for drivers, as it would give them ample to slow down before a red light or on the contrary, give them enough time to get through the intersection if they are passed the point of stopping sufficiently and safely.
Is it actually helping?
However, American Traffic Solutions senior vice president of marketing and communications, Charles Territo has seen the number of violations per camera across Florida rise from 2.5 to 3.3 per day. Officials believe that drivers have now become accustomed to longer yellow light times, since the change, and are more confident they can get past the stop bar before the light turns red. Territo said, “Declaring victory over red-light running by lengthening the amber time is like declaring victory over obesity by buying larger clothes; the clothes will feel more comfortable for a while but if you don’t change your eating behavior after a while, the larger clothes aren’t going to fit anymore.”
In fact, a Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles study released last month also questioned whether cameras have made intersections safer. It found that intersection crashes at monitored intersections rose by almost 15 percent after cameras were installed. This study included eight of Tampa’s 22 monitored intersections, where the number of rear end crashes rose from 17 to 26 after cameras were installed–a 52 percent increase. In total, almost 60,000 red light camera tickets were issued in Tampa in 2015 according to data from ATS, which is an increase of almost 44 percent over the previous year.
Originally when they were installed, the number of citations fell from almost 62,000 to 41,600 in 2014. Officials felt as though this information showed proof that the cameras are encouraging drivers to brake rather than accelerate when they see a yellow light. However, as the 44 percent increase shows, the “band aid” of longer yellow lights did not work. Many have blamed it on the rising number of Tampa residents and even data from ATS shows that the traffic volume at the 22 monitored intersections has risen to 15.4 million vehicles, when in the year previous, the intersections averaged 12 million vehicles. Nonetheless, Pei-Sung Ling, a program director with the Center for Urban Transportation Research at the University of South Florida stated, “We do not see any particular relationship between the number of citations and traffic volumes.”
Since this numbers have shown no improvement, this past Tuesday night, that small south Pinellas city of South Pasadena voted to get rid of its camera program, following similar moves by St. Petersburg, Gulfport and Temple Terrace. The city’s five cameras brought in about $2.9 million over five years, said Mayor Dan Calabria. However, he explained, “Not a nickel was used for public safety; if there was any real validity for it, then it would be a requirement that the revenue be used for vehicle and pedestrian safety.” 
Dolman Law Group
With red light cameras being phased out in many cities, it seems as though the individuals who back their existence are hanging on to a thin shred of hope for it to continue in neighboring cities where they are still prominent. With the figures as they are now, Tampa may end up removing the cameras from the 22 intersections that are still using them. While the Tampa Police Department just wants to “discourage” the behavior of running red lights, the rise in the number of rear end crashes shows how these cameras bring in negative consequences as well.
Furthermore, regardless of the reasoning behind keeping or getting rid of the red light cameras, automobile crashes at these intersections are just as dangerous as other intersections without them. The rise in the number of certain types of crashes should also indicate that no one is ever going to be truly safe from negligent drivers. The attorneys at Dolman Law Group can help you in a time of need when you have to figure out what to do next after a car accident. Our experienced auto accident lawyers know how complicated and frustrating the time can be. Let us help you today if you have been injured in an auto accident. We are here for you. Our number is (727) 853-6275.
Dolman Law Group
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New Port Richey, FL 34652