Traffic cameras raise privacy issues for sure, but they can also be devastating to your bank account. When I see these things hovering over my head on the pleasant streets of Boulder, Colorado not only do I think of Big Brother, but also of some overbearing bureaucrat trying to get his or her hands in my pocket. To be fair, I haven’t had any specific issues locally with the cameras and I hope not to have any in the future, but residents of Florida tell quite a different story.
In what is merely a sign of our completely corrupt and immoral times, many communities in Florida are intentionally shortening yellow light intervals at traffic intersections in order to catch unsuspecting drivers running red lights. Not only does this lead to soaring ticket issuance, it also causes more accidents. WTSP 10 News in Tampa completed a phenomenal investigative report. Key excerpts are below:
TAMPA BAY, Fla. — A subtle, but significant tweak to Florida’s rules regarding traffic signals has allowed local cities and counties to shorten yellow light intervals, resulting in millions of dollars in additional red light camera fines.
The 10 News Investigators discovered the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) quietly changed the state’s policy on yellow intervals in 2011, reducing the minimum below federal recommendations. The rule change was followed by engineers, both from FDOT and local municipalities, collaborating to shorten the length of yellow lights at key intersections, specifically those with red light cameras (RLCs).
While yellow light times were reduced by mere fractions of a second, research indicates a half-second reduction in the interval can double the number of RLC citations – and the revenue they create. The 10 News investigation stemmed from a December discovery of a dangerously short yellow light in Hernando County. After the story aired, the county promised to re-time all of its intersections, and the 10 News Investigators promised to dig into yellow light timing all across Tampa Bay.
Red light cameras generated more than $100 million in revenue last year inapproximately 70 Florida communities, with 52.5 percent of the revenue going to the state. The rest is divided by cities, counties, and the camera companies. In 2013, the cameras are on pace to generate $120 million.
Money, money, money, at all costs, money. America’s new religion.
“Red light cameras are a for-profit business between cities and camera companies and the state,” said James Walker, executive director of the nonprofit National Motorists Association. “The (FDOT rule-change) was done, I believe, deliberately in order that more tickets would be given with yellows set deliberately too short.”
Numerous U.S. Dept. of Transportation (USDOT) documents provide guidance to municipalities on how to install and operate RLC intersections. But FDOT and Florida communities are by-and-large ignoring those recommendations when it comes to yellow light intervals.
“I’m not a law-breaker,” said Pasco County retiree Shirley Nagle, who got a red light violation on U.S. 19 after more than five decades without a traffic citation.
Nagle entered the RLC intersection about half a second too late in February, and was issued a $158 ticket, which soon became a $262 fine after she didn’t pay it immediately.
“It’s terrible,” she said of Port Richey’s RLCs and short yellow lights. “I think they’re cheating the people!”
Oh really, you think??
The article describes the practices of several communities, but the one that stood out the most to me was in Oldsmar.
- Oldsmar had a similar issue, where its intersection at Tampa Rd. and SR-580 (State St.) was improperly timed. The yellow light was just 3.0 seconds instead of 4.3 seconds. When the problem was addressed last fall, citations plummeted by 90 percent. But no notices, or refunds, went out to ticketed drivers.
Amazing that people put up with this stuff.
But there are few tangible safety benefits to short yellow lights. In fact, they appear to have the opposite effects; according to the USDOT and FHA, short yellow lights raise crash rates.
“A one second increase in yellow time results in 40 percent decrease in severe red light related crashes,” the report said.
But reforms have been few and far between for RLC laws, largely because of the industry’s massive lobbying presence. State disclosures indicate ATS has spent more than a million dollars lobbying in Florida alone, while its also donated more than half a million dollars to Florida politicians directly.
“They’re almost everywhere,” Brandes said of ATS lobbyists in Tallahassee.
But ultimately, the choice to appeal is yours and as the law stands, the mere act of contesting the violation could cause your fine to surge from $158 to $264 — even if you did nothing wrong.
You are farm animals meant to be milked by the establishment. They will continue to milk you until you drop dead or demand they stop.
Full article here.
Follow me on Twitter!