TAMPA, Florida -- One of the nation's leading red light camera critics has taken a shot at Hillsborough County Commissioners after they backed off a previous proposal to increase yellow light intervals above the state's minimums.
James Walker, executive director for the non-profit National Motorists Association Foundation, sent a critical letter to commissioners following last week's vote. He calls commissioners "wrong" for accepting "an unproven theory" on how longer yellow lights could increase accidents.
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Longer yellow lights tend to mean fewer red light camera citations for drivers. But Hillsborough commissioners voted to keep their red light cameras at the state minimums. The Florida Department of Transportation is currently in the process of raising those minimums, which the agency admitted were too short for some drivers following a series of 10 News Investigations in May. However, those changes are slow to take effect in most communities.
Below is the full text of Walker's letter to Hillsborough Commissioners:
Your decision to reverse your earlier vote and not lengthen the yellow intervals by more than the 0.4 seconds recently mandated to account for older drivers is simply wrong.
You accepted an unproven theory from Engineer Pete Yauch who admitted there is NO evidence to support his theory which goes against all the available evidence on the issue. The reason his theory is unproven is that it is totally false. Longer yellows drastically reduce violations and either leave the crash rates the same or reduces them.
You earlier heard the false statement from Jim Moulton of FDOT District 7 that using posted speed limits in the ITE/FDOT formula for calculating yellow intervals is OK for local roads. This is false and was flatly illegal under FDOT rules before July 2011 if the actual 85th percentile approach speeds were higher than the posted limits (a normal circumstance). FDOT District 7 has been the most aggressive District in seeking to intimidate local communities to set improperly short yellow intervals to increase the number of $83 commissions to the state on tickets.
There is one, and only one, valid reason to use the shortest possible yellow intervals - revenue. Yellows set shorter than required for the safe stopping time and distance of at least 85% of the approaching vehicles is less safe and is done only to increase the ticket revenue.
This is predatory, but profitable.
But it is also a moral violation of your oath of office to do the right things for your citizens and visitors.
With regrets for your wrong decision,
James C. Walker
Life Member, National Motorists Association
Board Member and Executive Director, National Motorists Association Foundation
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