Dreaded Yellow Light May Be Trap for Traffic Violations
By Mike Magner
Updated: November 21, 2012 | 9:19 a.m.
November 21, 2012 | 6:00 a.m.
The National Motorists Association has a warning for the millions of drivers hitting the road for the busy holiday travel season: Beware of the yellow lights.
The timing of yellow lights on traffic signals at many intersections is purposely set to a minimum so more drivers can be ticketed for running red lights, says the 30-year-old activist group based in Waunakee, Wis.
This past summer in New Jersey, the transportation department ordered 21 cities and towns to suspend the use of red-light cameras at 63 intersections because the timing of yellow lights at those locations was below the minimum established by state law.
Other cities—including Dallas; Chattanooga, Tenn.; and Union City, Calif.—have been caught shortening yellow lights in the past decade as red-light cameras have become sources of steady revenue. The cameras snap photos of license plates on any vehicles in an intersection while the light is red, and citations, often carrying fines of $100 or more, are mailed to the registration’s address.
IF the sole object of red light violator cameras were to improve safety at critical intersections, I’d have no problems with them (assuming, adequate records retention, regular calibration with records, yada, yada, yada). I don’t have much sympathy for the, “I shouldn’t have got caught!” argument. But it’s clear that red-light cameras are being used as revenue-raising devices, with yellow light durations being gamed to increase revenue to the detriment of safety!