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    by: Jonathon Ramsey, Aol Autos
     

    Recent studies of the effects and usage of red light cameras at intersections in Texas brought the website The Newspaper to the same conclusion that many motorists have: it's about revenue.

    First let's look at some numbers: according to the NHTSA there were 34,017 fatal crashes in 2008, with 11,179 of them - and more than 800,000 injuries - attributed to speeding. Most of those fatalities occurred somewhere other than the Interstate, where the speed limit was under 55 miles per hour. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, there were 260,000 "vehicle incidents" from people running red lights, resulting in almost 900 deaths.

    That's 11,179 deaths vs. 900 deaths. In 2006, when traffic fatalities were higher, speeding was deemed the number one cause of death for people ages four to 34.

    Yet the IIHS reports that as of December, 2009 only 52 communities use speed cameras. The number of communities that use red light cameras: 442. Almost nine times as many cities employ red light cameras for the stated goal of increasing safety even though speeding appears to be far more deadly.

    The problematic issue with red light cameras brings up the same word that describes the problem with speed cameras: "trap." In the case of Texas, short yellow light times have been found to make it more likely someone will enter the intersection after the red begins to glow - and therefore make it easier to issue ticket.

    In one case the length of a yellow light in El Paso was shortened by just a four-tenths of a second and citations jumped by 132%. In another case, a yellow light at a 45-mph intersection in Houston that lasted 3.6 seconds rang up 341% more tickets than the yellow lights at other, similar 45-mph intersections.

    Opponents of the red light cameras point to the fact that the duration of yellow lights in these scenarios is often less than the minimum durations proposed by national and state traffic engineering bodies. The Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) has a formula for determining how long a yellow light should stay illuminated, but intersections boasting red light cameras rarely follow those informal guidelines.

    In 2003, a study by two researchers at the Texas Transportation Institute published a study that resulted in these findings: "(1) an increase of 0.5 to 1.5 s in yellow duration (such that it does not exceed 5.5 s) will decrease the frequency of red-light-running by at least 50 percent; (2) drivers do adapt to the increase in yellow duration; however, this adaptation does not undo the benefit of an increase in yellow duration; and (3) increasing a yellow interval that is shorter than that obtained from a proposed recommended practice published by the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) is likely to yield the greatest return (in terms of a reduced number of red-light violations) relative to the cost of retiming a yellow interval in the field."

    In plainer English: increase the time of a yellow light, reduce the number of accidents. A one-second increase in the yellow light time duration resulted in a 40-percent reduction in crashes and a 53% drop in violations.

    Never mind the fact that many red light cameras are not installed at the intersections with the highest accident rates. And never mind the fact that while cameras are said to capture up to 90% of their violations in the first second of a light going red, the large majority of accidents due to people running red lights happens five seconds after a light has turned red.

    What makes it easy to ignore that fact is the huge amounts of money involved. In Coppell, one of those Texas towns studied, one red light camera issued $862,275 in tickets during a 1-year span. That's a healthy addition to the coffers in a town of just 39,000 people. Other, larger cities are known to reap millions from red light camera revenue.

    And when it comes to short yellows, statistics and studies will pale in the face of the most important number of all: millions. Given the chance to address a municipal budget - and safety - the length of yellow lights is almost the same as a game of limbo: how low can you go?

    Read More on Aol Autos:

    - Speed Cameras Appearing on U.S. Roads
    - Anatomy of a Traffic Stop: Read a Cop's Mind
    - Some Traffic Tickets Are Reversible

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    Discuss
    1 - 20 of 85 Comments
    gcooper402 Mar 08, 2010 9:39 PM
    Add Chicago on Cicero Av to the ********* a speed trap
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    kninejk Jan 22, 2010 8:49 PM
    Just drive responsibly, no cell phones, no eating, no putting on your makeup etc. also leave a space cushion in front of you and keep a good visual 360 degrees around your car as you are driving. Look 15 seconds down the road in the direction you are traveling so you know what is ahead like a traffic light about to change. Drive with your headlights on even whenit is daylight to be seen by all! Don't bunch up and tailgate! It isn't rocket science folks it is just responsible driving so lighten up!
    Report This
    agon10421 Jan 06, 2010 12:22 PM
    red light ticket in l.a. is 500 fine and school 600 at end
    Report This
    flynkolorz69 Jan 06, 2010 11:40 AM
    I was in traffic court yesterday in N. Richlandhills,TX for a photo red light. Speed limit was 40 mph and yellow light was timed at 3.5 seconds. Judge said it was set at 4 seconds but the review of film proved 3.8 seconds. I was still found Guilty, but the Judge said the ticket would not go on my record or effect my insurance.... and no warrant would be issued if I didn't pay (like a parking ticket she said)... YEAH RIGHT!!! I will no longer do bussiness or even drive through North RICHlandhills, TX. Crooks and criminals run this little city. I wish I could have read this blog yesterday before court but I doubt it would have done anygood !!!
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    jaguignon Jan 06, 2010 6:09 AM
    I always watch the lights in town and go the speed limit, that way they are timed so I don't have to stand my car on end to stop (or risk a ticket or accident). I also pick a point on the road visually that I can pass if the light happens to turn yellow. If the light happens to turn yellow before I reach that visual point ( oil stain, crack in the pavement, etc.), I can stop easily and safely. I tried running a red light once back when I was 26; that was almost 25 years ago. Yes, I got a ticket for it ($45.00). It was a fast yellow and I let the hammer down in my 69 Buick Wildcat....I was 1.5 sec too slow for the cop.
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    rileya2345 Jan 06, 2010 6:03 AM
    Conservative Republican Texas! They don't want more government, just government you can not see! Who would know by observation that a fraction of a second had been taken off the yellow light? So just do it and don't tell people you are taxing them! After all if it isn't called a tax, then it's not a tax. Right? Wrong! We are now paying for such taxation without representation all over the place because the secret budget tactics of such Conservative Republicans. Nothing conservative about it. Just part of the Big Lie Machine.
    Report This
    swilli9709 Jan 06, 2010 5:02 AM
    DOES anyone think that any government people care about anyone but themselves...if you do you are crazy....they all want to FEED ON us...to hell with saving lives, just TAX the HELL out of them..........
    Report This
    rondanrob Jan 06, 2010 4:37 AM
    There needs to be national, or at the very least state, standard for how long a caution light is. This will prevent municipalities for changing the duration at will to lure otherwise safe and lawful drivers into unintentionally running red lights. I live in FL. In Miami the caution light is rather long, but when I travel to Naples (130 miles away) I accidently run red lights because the caution is MUCH shorter. Quess where all the red light cameras are? Not only is this unfair, feel it is dangerous and criminal. I don't speed and and try very hard to be a safe driver (haven't had a ticket in 20 years) and find it shocking how easily it is to run a red light when the yellow is not consistent. This needs to be remedied right away.
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    peekaynine Jan 06, 2010 4:32 AM
    If you do away with the yellow light altogether, you'll probably increase the number of tickets by tenfold. And eventually people will learn to safely approach that intersection at 5mph so they can avoid the ticket.
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    labuyu Jan 06, 2010 4:16 AM
    Let's see if we lengthen the duration of the yellow light we reduce accident and tickets. If we shorten the duration of the yellow light we get more accidents and more ticket revenue. Can anyone say E-N-T-R-A-P-M-E-N-T. In addition officials are intentionally creating a safety hazard for the purpose of increasing revenue. There should be a standard and reasonable duration for a yellow light based on the speed limit at the location of the **************** be nation wide. The officials responsible for shortening yellow light durations to generate revenue should be put in jail.
    Report This
    blastfromp Jan 06, 2010 4:15 AM
    OK>>>> what's next... Mother F- - - - - - S
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    ivan100000 Jan 06, 2010 4:10 AM
    Hi Nate-- I agree with you to a certain extent regarding your "don't want a ticket/don't run the red light" statement. As someone who has driven for 23 years and has never had so much as a fender bender while having just received my first ticket ever, I consider myself a good, careful driver. I certainly don't make a practice of running red lights; I'd been in a situation where the light turned yellow just at that in-between moment and I had to make a split-second decision to either continue through the intersection or stomp on the brakes & risk a rear-end hit from the guy in back of me. As the intersection was perfectly clear of traffic, I chose the former. As fate would have it this was one of the camera corners, and I was determined to have been 3/10ths of a second late into the intersection. My fine was $435 plus an additional $75 for the privilege of taking an online driving school course. So yes, there does need to be a deterrent for this potential safety hazard, but I think the @$500 I paid was beyond excessive in this instance; for as pathetic as it is to admit, that's two weeks of net salary for me. Cutting off one of my fingers would be a deterrent too, I suppose. I also think that much of the gripe that those of us leaving comments have is with the disturbing idea that these cameras are not actually set up in the interest of our public safety. It would have been an easier pill for me to have swallowed had I known that my hard-earned money was going to fund social programs in my nearly-bankrupt state, but I came to find that 50% of the revenue generated by the red light tickets in Los Angeles goes directly to the private corporate enterprise that sets up & maintains the camera systems at the intersections.
    Report This
    ww77651 Jan 06, 2010 3:50 AM
    this is a good example right here If we do not take back control at the 2010 midterms, we are doomed Glen beck is right on
    Report This
    ww77651 Jan 06, 2010 3:48 AM
    ***********, IE wast time better soent fighting the run away government
    Report This
    johnraya Jan 06, 2010 3:48 AM
    I saw one of those red light cameras light up an intersection early one morning, I saw the flash, turned imediatly towards it..and saw the light still yellow as a car made a left turn.
    Report This
    ww77651 Jan 06, 2010 3:47 AM
    Why did "***********" get blanked out? this cencor is messed up
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    ww77651 Jan 06, 2010 3:45 AM
    I agree it is the fault of the lazy voters not keeping control of their elected officials We need to fire everyone, starting with the dog catcher Work our way up all the way to the tip. but you and I know these lasy slops will do nothing they still thing sports are important I have *********** a ball game since the radicals took over been to busy fighting them
    Report This
    natetiffcaly Jan 06, 2010 3:40 AM
    Cities need money to operate, money to provide services; like clear roads, fire-stations and police. Don't want to contribute to their revenue? Then don't run a red light or speed. Man! What a bunch of babies!
    Report This
    jannjanf Jan 06, 2010 3:21 AM
    I just proves that traffic safety laws-whether stop light length or speed limits- have nothing to do with safety. They are all about revenue.
    Report This
    mtwservice Jan 06, 2010 3:03 AM
    This is just more funding for the police state. No differen't than property siezures at arrests. The Fed's get theirs from the "War On Drugs", there are now more drugs that ther ever was. It's our own fault, bunch of self indulged, lazy (entertained) asses that won't get involved (vote) until it's too late, and time to revolt. Just remember we voted for change and we are getting it.
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    Texas experiments with shortening their yellow lights, boosting revenue in the process.
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