Skip to comments.Georgia: Red Light Cameras Struggle in Face of Longer Yellow
Posted on 03/11/2009 8:20:07 AM PDT by Ken H
Lilburn, Georgia suspends red light camera program after extended yellow time cut violations by 80 percent.
On January 1, a new Georgia law kicked in forcing a one-second increase in the duration of the yellow warning light at intersections with red light cameras.
The result has been devastating for red light camera makers as violations -- and revenue -- immediately plunged for the months of January, February and March. Last week, the city of Norcross dumped photo enforcement. Now the UK-owned red light camera maker Lasercraft is offering its customers a 90-day suspension of service to prevent cities from dropping their automated ticketing contracts. The cities of Lilburn and Snellville accepted this offer yesterday and suspended their red light camera programs.
"With the passage of House Bill 77, effective January 1, 2009, there has been a precipitous decline in the number of citations issued through the program," Lilburn Police Chief J.B. Davidson wrote in a memo to the city council.
The mandated increase in signal time created dramatic and instant results. In 2008, Lasercraft issued an average of 1,559 citations each month. In January, that number dropped 80 percent to just 313. Norcross also saw an 80 percent drop in violations.
According to a 2001 report by the Office of the U.S. House Majority Leader, the findings in Lilburn and Norcross are not coincidental. The report argued that changes in national signal timing guidelines systematically reduced the amount of warning time available to motorists. It argued further that those with a financial incentive in using enforcement to deal with the additional violations created may have played a role in the changes (view report).
"This strongly suggests that inadequate yellow time is the major cause of red-light entries," the Congressional report stated. "If the vast majority of red light entries occur in the first second after the yellow light expires, it is reasonable to assume an additional second of yellow time on that light will yield a nearly 80 percent decrease in red light entries."
To date, Lilburn's three red light camera intersections have issued 57,528 tickets worth $4,026,960. Thanks to the longer yellow, however, monthly income from the program dropped $80,000 forcing Lasercraft to pause to discover what more might be done.
"The program vendor has proposed a plan to suspend the program for a ninety-day period, and the vendor will waive all Lasercraft charges during the suspension period," Davidson wrote.
Lilburn voted to accept the suspension to give Lasercraft time to come up with a plan to increase the number of citations. In a letter to Davidson, Lasercraft officials hinted that deactivating some cameras and presumably moving them to higher volume intersections could be part of the solution.
"In ninety days, on or before June 7th, the city and Lasercraft will meet to review the most current citation counts and make a decision as to reactivation of approaches, continuation of the suspension period, or de-commission of the program," Lasercraft Regional Director Ty Sellers wrote.
Lasercraft's letter also implied that violations may increase as drivers adapt to the longer yellow. This has not proved true in places such as Fairfax County, Virginia where the benefit of an increased yellow time appeared permanent. A 1985 report by the Institute of Transportation Engineers summarized the best opinion of experts as confirming the permanence of the benefit view report in PDF, see page 8).
"Research has consistently shown that drivers do not, in fact, adapt to the length of the yellow," the ITE report stated.
Although it is too early to draw any conclusions, accident data for January and February appear positive for the intersections with longer yellow. A copy of the Lasercraft letter and the police chief's memo to city council are available in a 325k PDF file at the source link below.
Source: Details on Suspension of Red Light Camera Program (City of Lilburn, Georgia and Lasercraft, 3/10/2009)
These cameras were NEVER about safety ... revenue generation was and is the goal.
“These cameras were NEVER about safety ... revenue generation was and is the goal.”
That’s a fact! And it makes my blood boil.
This is great news!
We can save lives by simply increasing the yellow by 1 second!
Those cameras proved their worth! Now take them down.
I guess the question is if the yellow signal at the monitored intersections was shortened when the cameras were installed in the first place. The reason to do that would be to increase revenues by setting up a trap
If adding an extra second reduces violations, reduces accidents, and reduces tickets, these are all good things. The fact that this is viewed as a problem shows how the purpose of traffic citations has become completely perverted.
Those darn cameras are spouting up like mushrooms here in the Peoples Republic of Chicago. And I think that they are playing with the sequencing of the lights at some intersections to trap me and my fellow human ATM’s
Throw another second on and watch the lives saved really increase!
"Lilburn voted to accept the suspension to give Lasercraft time to come up with a plan to increase the number of citations."
bump for later
Isn’t this just a re-hash of the “Great Ludowici Plan” of 1950-65? Welcome back to the Ghost of Governor Maddox!!!
I am not sure how prevalent they are elsewhere but here in the Toronto area they have started installing countdown timers in the traffic lights and to me they are a great idea. As a driver and a pedestrian you know exactly how much time you have before the light turns red and can judge and act accordingly. It is one of the better improvements that have come along.
They could set the cameras to issue citations during that last second of yellow as well as the red.
Heck, set them to randomly flash cars going through the intersection. Just dial in how much money they want.
If you want to fix them drive 10 miles below the posted speed and delay starting when the light turns green. They will cave if people do it.
Reading this correctly makes it clear that 80% of the citations went to vehicles that just barely failed to make it through the intersection before the light changed red.
80% and they knew it too!
Revenue enhancement is the backbone of every government “enforcement” program. Speed traps are no different. If government wanted to save lives, they would lower speed limits to 30 mph. If governments wanted to curtail red light running or speeding, fines would be $1,000 and loss of license upon first offense. But they depend more on the revenue of their nuisance fines.
>>Lilburn voted to accept the suspension to give Lasercraft time to come up with a plan to increase the number of citations.<<
Gee, they don’t even try to hide it any more.
The traffic cops and their tools are LITERALLY the modern equivalent of highwaymen and bridge trolls. How do they honestly expect us to take them seriously?
Legitimate reasons for traffic laws:
2. Promote efficient traffic flow.
Illegitimate reasons for traffic laws:
3. Increase government (and their agents) revenues.
4. Intimidate the general public.
I ignore red left turn lights as well as normal traffic lights when it is clearly safe to proceed. I drive over the speed limit when it is clearly safe to do so. These both adhere to numbers 1 and 2. I have violated neither number 1 or number 2. However, I violate numbers 3 and 4 all the time.
Whether I get caught or not is like a game to me - and I am always playing it whenever behind the wheel. When you get caught, it is like playing monopoly and you land on Baltic Ave. If it is a serious DUI, etc., it is more like Park place with a few houses. But I make it around the board years at a time without landing on the other side’s property. And even when I do, I usually end up pulling a “get out of jail free” card.
Side note: Every time in my entire life I have been pulled over by a motorcycle, I have gotten a ticket of some sort. Usually significantly reduced offense, but always a ticket.
>>Throw another second on and watch the lives saved really increase!<<
Actually, they could have it both ways. If they had not increased the yellow, but caused the other directions red to change to green after the green had changed to yellow, they could have kept the revenue up AND still gotten lots of citations. A win-win! Except for the poor schmucks getting the unfair tickets.
When at a light that has a camera, if I am the first car to have to stop I always slam on my brakes as hard as I can. I have good headrests and insurance.
If government wanted to save lives, they would lower speed limits to 30 mph.
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