October 29, 2013 /24-7PressRelease/
-- Shortened yellow lights can increase accident risk for Florida drivers
Drivers in Clearwater, Florida, and elsewhere tend to assume that traffic laws and regulations are first and foremost designed to promote safety and prevent unnecessary accidents. However, many cities have shortened the duration of yellow lights, even though this can raise the risk of drivers getting into side-impact collisions
and other accidents while crossing intersections. Investigations have indicated that Tampa and other Florida cities may have dangerously short yellow light durations.
Creating a margin of safety
Generally, the length of a yellow light should punish dangerous drivers while giving safe drivers time to clear an intersection. MSN reports that speed limit, average speed motorists actually travel in the intersection, and average driver reaction time are among the factors that determine yellow light duration. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) found in one study that making yellow lights last a second longer reduced red light running by a third.
The IIHS has also found that red light running injures tens of thousands of people and claims the lives of hundreds of people annually. Longer yellow lights decrease these accidents. It might surprise many people, then, to hear that counties and cities knowingly shorten yellow light times.
Shorter lights raise revenue
Science News Daily describes one potential conflict of interest that traffic engineers face. Red light cameras are one of the more effective ways to decrease red light running and make intersections safer, but as these systems become effective, they stop being profitable enough to sustain themselves.
Florida's 10 News reported troubling facts about recent trends in yellow light durations and red light camera citations. In 2011, Florida started calculating light durations based off speed limit alone, leading to shorter intervals. In past years, intersections in St. Petersburg and Tampa were found to have yellow light durations below the state standards.
Small changes in yellow light duration can have large impacts on drivers as well as revenue. Cutting just 0.5 seconds from the length of a yellow light doubles the number of people who run the light, according to the 10 News report. Following Florida's change of standards in 2011, red light camera citations raised more than $100 million in revenue in 2012, and this year, they are projected to best that figure by $20 million.
Over the next two years, according to 10 News, yellow light duration times in Florida will be increased by 0.4 seconds. This is a positive step, but may still leave drivers vulnerable in areas where people drive well above the speed limit or where a large number of drivers are elderly.
Precautions drivers can take
It's important for Florida drivers to be aware of the heightened risks of accidents in intersections. Drivers can reduce their risk of being in a red light running accident by doing the following:
-Observing speed limits, especially near traffic signals.
-Slowing down before intersections or being prepared to stop.
-Avoiding distractions that take their eyes off the road, from texting to changing the radio.
-Scanning ahead for potential risks such as pedestrians or vehicles waiting to turn.
Attentive driving is, of course, always important. It can be especially critical when factors like shortened traffic signals give drivers less time to react to a situation.
Drivers who have sustained injuries
in an accident caused by someone else's inattention should speak with an attorney about compensation for those injuries.
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