ORLANDO, Florida - The 10 News Investigators have found yellow light intervals reduced at several Orlando intersections with red light cameras (RLC) after the cameras started issuing tickets to thousands of motorists a month.
The discovery contradicts the indication from the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) that short lights in Tampa Bay, FDOT's Region 7, were a result of a single engineer's misunderstanding.
In May, 10 News started exposing how FDOT and local communities were reducing the yellow interval times at intersections with RLCs, thus writing more tickets. While FDOT does not receive any direct revenue from red light cameras, the state receives the majority of each $158 citation.
WATCH: Initial Short Yellows Investigation
TIMELINE: 10 News' Short Yellows Investigation
In Orlando, at least three intersections with RLCs had yellow intervals shortened to the state's bare minimums in recent years:
- The yellow light at northbound Semoran Blvd. & Lake Underhill Rd. was reduced from 4.5 seconds to 4.3 seconds in April 2013, less than a year after the cameras were installed there.
- The yellow light at northbound Colonial Dr. & Magnolia Ave. was reduced from 4.0 seconds to 3.5 seconds in October 2012, less than two months after the cameras were installed there.
- The yellow light at southbound Conroy Rd. & Kirkman Rd. was reduced from 5.0 seconds to 4.7 seconds in January 2013, two years after the cameras were installed there. The eastbound approach, which is also monitored by RLCs, was extended to 4.3 seconds at that time because it was operating for years at 4.0 seconds, shorter than the state allowed.
FDOT and many local municipalities are ignoring a series of federal safety guidelines at almost all local RLC intersections. The shorter-than-recommended lights may not give drivers enough time to stop safely.
Orlando is also one of many communities around Florida that appears to ignore federal guidelines that recommend issuing only warnings "for a reasonable amount of time after the change" in yellow light times.
Further analysis of Orlando's red light cameras indicates the technology could help reduce serious crashes, but Orlando failed to install the cameras at many of its most dangerous intersections.
Of Orlando's first 12 intersections with RLCs (installed Sept. '08 and Jan. '10), only two were among the city's top 50 most dangerous for accidents.
The City of Orlando provided the most recent crash data available for the city's intersections ('07-'10), which indicate the crash rate soared by nearly 40 percent at Conroy/Vineland after RLCs were installed in 2008. However, crashes dropped significantly in 2010 at the intersection of International/Universal.
Red light cameras have brought in almost $10 million for Orlando at more than a dozen intersections since 2008, and Orange Co. is now preparing to install 80 additional cameras.
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