Hillsborough County Red Light Cameras discussed as commissioners get report on yellow light lengths

10:27 AM, Aug 22, 2013   |    comments
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TAMPA, Fla. - Yellow light intervals at Hillsborough County red light camera (RLC) intersections are going to get longer, although not as long as some national studies suggest.

County commissioners voted unanimously Wednesday to move forward with adjusting the warning times at six RLC intersections, but only by the 0.4 seconds mandated by the state's new policies. Federal research has suggested Florida's lights should be even longer, but an independent engineer and county attorneys cautioned commissioners against breaking with the state's minimums.

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Following a 10 News Investigation in May, commissioners instructed staff to explore the longest yellow lights allowed by law. But engineer Pete Yauch, hired by the county to report on the issue, said in a nine-page report that extending yellow lights could confuse drivers and create more dangerous intersections.

Yauch, who made no mention of the county's options to extend lights, said there was not enough solid evidence that longer yellow lights reduced accidents.  However, he also acknowledged there was no evidence to support the theory that longer yellows could make intersections more dangerous.

But one key element of the report indicated that there was sufficient research to conclude most drivers who receive RLC tickets are not likely to cause accidents.

"A recent study by the Texas A&M Transportation Institute found that more than one-half of all red light running events occurred in the first second of red. These vehicles do not result in a large number of crashes," the report read.

Ultimately, commissioners voted Wednesday for staff to come back with another report as soon as more yellow light research is available, as well as try to expedite its updating of RLC signals.

Cities and counties have until the end of 2013 to meet FDOT's new yellow light minimums at RLC intersections, and until 2015 to re-time all traffic signals appropriately.

Find 10 News Investigator Noah Pransky on Facebook or follow his updates on Twitter. Send your story tips to noah@wtsp.com.

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