St. Petersburg short yellow lights at red light camera intersections may be short-lived

10:50 PM, Jun 3, 2013   |    comments
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St. Petersburg, Florida - The City Council will have the opportunity to make intersections safer this month, as a report on yellow light lengths is expected at an upcoming meeting.

The 10 News Investigators exposed short yellow lights at numerous red light camera (RLC) intersections in St. Pete, costing motorists hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.  The discovery was part of a massive investigation into RLCs that revealed FDOT was reducing the yellow interval times, resulting in more tickets.

WATCH: Initial Short Yellows Investigation
TIMELINE: 10 News' Short Yellows Investigation

While FDOT does not receive any direct revenue from red light cameras, the state receives the majority of each $158 citation.

St. Petersburg Councilman Charlie Gerdes says he expects little resistance to his recommendation to lengthen yellow lights when it comes before council later this month. 

While FDOT tells 10 News it will raise yellow light minimums by 0.4 seconds statewide, the new standards still fall short of federal safety guidelines for RLC intersections.  The shorter-than-recommended lights may not give drivers enough time to stop safely.

"The minimum is not a standard," Gerdes said. "What's right & what's safe should be the standard."

Before alert resident Matt Florell brought it to the city's attention, numerous in St. Petersburg intersections had yellow light lengths that were shorter than even the state's short minimums.  The city called it a "malfunction" on four sets of light timers, but no drivers were alerted they may have received improper RLC citations, and no refunds were offered.

"We need to do the right thing," Gerdes said.  "I think we need to consider refunding some ticket money to folks who got tickets because the light was shorter than it should have been."

St. Pete Mayor Bill Foster tells 10 News he is open to having a discussion about extending yellow lights, particularly if it would make intersections safer.

The Hillsborough County Commission will discuss extending its yellow lights during a meeting on Wednesday, June 5.

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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