Revenue Opportunity: Shortening Yellow Traffic Lights

Friday, November 23, 2012

Cities across the United States have been shortening the length of yellow lights at intersections in order to generate more traffic tickets and, thus, more revenues.


This finding comes from the National Motorists Association (NMA), which issued a warning to drivers before Thanksgiving to watch out for quicker yellows at stoplights.


According to the NMA, the state of New Jersey forced 21 cities and towns to cease using red-light cameras at more than 60 intersections because the timing of the yellow lights was below the minimum required under state law.


NMA also identified Dallas, Texas, Chattanooga, Tennessee, and Union City, California as cities that were caught shortening yellow lights to help police write more tickets.


The motorists association argues that if anything, yellows lights should be lengthened because doing so reduces the risk of auto collisions. One study cited by the NMA found that adding just one second to a yellow light can lower intersection accidents by 40%.


The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) recommends that yellow lights should last for 3 to 6 seconds, but there is no national law requiring local jurisdictions to do so.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Dreaded Yellow Light May Be Trap For Traffic Violations (by Mike Magner, National Journal)

6 Cities That Were Caught Shortening Yellow Light Times For Profit (National Motorists Association Blog)


art miller 9 years ago
I swear yellow light times have been shortned in St.Pete where I live.I went through a light at the speed limit and went from Green to Yellow and Red so fast I said there is no way that is right. We actually have a state statute saying how long the light must remain yellow but nobody enforces it.
yarply 9 years ago
Should have read that last sentence. Teach me not to skim read so much.
yarply 9 years ago
Here in TN,cities and small towns have been doing just such things for YEARS! I've driven through towns where if you blinked you would completely miss the yellow and swear up and down it went from green, straight to red. I thought by fed law it was supposed to be a minimum of 2 seconds. Maybe I am wrong.

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