City's Yellow Lights Too Short: Study

Traffic lights with quick yellows mean more tickets to motorists who can't stop before the light turns red, according to a new study by AAA.

A new survey by AAA New York has found that street intersections equipped with cameras have yellow lights that are 15 percent shorter than city standards, according to the New York Post.

“They’re not giving people ample time to get through intersections,” AAA spokesman Robert Sinclair told the paper. “This is supposed to be about safety, not just raising revenue, and that’s what it’s become."

The city’s Department of Transportation says yellow lights are set to about one second for every 10 mph of the speed limit – or, three seconds for a typical 30-mph intersection – but AAA engineers found many city intersections with cameras had yellow lights that only lasted for 2.53 seconds.

Sinclair insisted that AAA backs the red-light cameras, but says fairness is important.

“People lose respect for these programs if they view them as revenue enhancers. You can’t have respect for this program if you’re setting it up to be unfair and you’re just reaching into people’s pockets,” he told the Post.

In the last five years, red-light cameras have generated more than $235 million in ticket fines, and last year alone, around $47.2 million.

When asked about AAA’s findings by the Post, DOT spokeswoman Nicole Garcia said: “There is no legal requirement for the length of a yellow signal," adding that the city's yellow-light lengths comply with federal guidelines.


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