TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - The race to get into the intersection before the light turns red is on.
The stakes are high. Enter a split second late, and red light cameras will snap a picture. Stop early and you may get rear ended.
Friday John McGrew piled friends into his new car. He says at some lights he can barely get his BMW into the intersection before the light turns red. “Sometimes it does change a little too fast.”
A bill to lengthen yellow lights has been refiled in Tallahassee. It failed last time.
Republican State Representative Brad Drake of Panama City hated to see the brakes put on the bill. “And that’s what they are doing with these cameras, they’re catching people as they go through but it’s unfair because the yellow light is so short.”
At an intersection a few blocks from the State Capitol there is a red-light camera. The speed limit going north and south is 35 MPH. The yellow light lasts about 3.2 seconds. The new bill would require it to last four seconds.
The bill is a response to complaints about red-light cameras. As dozens began popping up around the state, claims that yellow lights were shortened to catch more drivers began to surface.
Shamika Whitlock heard the stories and changed her driving. “I definitely stop. I can’t get any more tickets. I stop before it turns yellow.”
During a six month period beginning last year, 11 million dollars in fines were mailed out because of red-light cameras. Opponents of the devices believe longer yellow lights will lower that number.
Right now local governments set the length of yellow lights based on an equation factoring in speed limits, the size of the road and other variables.
The proposed bill would base the length of the light on just the speed limit.
Here is a breakdown of what’s being proposed: At 25 MPH and below the light would last three seconds, At 35 MPH it would last four seconds, 45 it would last five seconds and at 55 MPH and above the light would stay yellow for six seconds.
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