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Hillsborough County to study short yellow lights, federal guidelines after 10 News investigation; City of Tampa won't

9:08 AM, May 16, 2013   |    comments
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Find 10 News Investigator Noah Pransky on Facebook or follow his updates on Twitter. Send your story tips to noah@wtsp.com.

TAMPA, Fla. -- The Hillsborough County Commission has instructed staff to study the lengths of its yellow lights at red light camera (RLC) intersections, as well as national standards identified by the 10 News Investigators as being ignored all across the region.

Meanwhile, the City of Tampa tells 10 News it has no intentions of altering its RLC intersections, despite the shortest yellow light intervals found in Tampa Bay.

10 News found state and local engineers reducing the time of yellow lights, especially at red light camera intersections. The results were increased citation rates.

WATCH AND READ THE INITIAL 10 NEWS INVESTIGATION 

FDOT mandates a 4.0-second yellow interval for a 40mph roadway, but Tampa says it has several lights set to 3.9 seconds because of its strict interpretation of an engineering formula.

An FDOT engineer confirmed for the city that the intersections of Hillsborough/Nebraska and 50th/Adamo are both not "the preferred 4.0 seconds shown on the (FDOT) chart." Meanwhile, USDOT standards suggest yellow light intervals at those key intersections should be in the 4.5/5.0 ballpark.

Mayor Bob Buckhorn, who is one of the most accessible politicians in Tampa Bay, has repeatedly avoided 10 News' questions about the short yellow light investigation. Instead, his administration has deflected questions to the city's traffic department, which says it plans no changes to its RLC intersections unless crash data or FDOT recommend it.

The City of Tampa and Tampa Police Dept. point to a 29 percent reduction in crash rates and falling citation rates as evidence their RLC program is successful and making intersections safer.

"Our transportation engineers feel that our crash statistics support how we have our lights timed," said Tampa's Public Affairs Director Ali Glisson via email.  "We are not seeing any crashes resulting from yellow lights being too short.

Last year, Tampa issued $7.6 million in RLC fines at 15 intersections, keeping approximately $2.6 million of the revenue for itself. The rest was split between the state, county, and camera companies.

FDOT tells 10 News it doesn't receive any direct revenue from RLC and it is now considering a 0.4-second increase to all Florida yellow light intervals to allow the state's aging population, and large vehicles, more time to react to the traffic signals.

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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