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Brooksville first city to request longer yellow lights following 10 News Investigation

10:12 AM, May 24, 2013   |    comments
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BROOKSVILLE, Florida - Following a 10 News Investigation into the length of yellow lights at local red-light camera (RLC) intersections, the City of Brooksville is asking the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) for permission to extend its intervals.

WATCH: INITIAL SHORT YELLOWS INVESTIGATION 
READ: SUMMARY OF FEDERAL GUIDELINES IGNORED

City Manager Jennene Norman-Vacha and Police Chief George Turner discussed the story after its airing last week and brought the issue to council Monday night.  After the council decided to pen a letter to FDOT requesting longer yellow intervals, Chief Turner told 10 News he sent the following letter to the state Thursday afternoon.

"I would like to submit this official notification," wrote Turner, "that the City of Brooksville City Council requests that that ALL traffic signals within this jurisdiction be set to the HIGHEST YELLOW LIGHT TIME INTERVAL allowed by law."

Federal laws mandate yellow lights simply be between three and six seconds, but there are numerous suggestions for best practices.  Many of those suggestions are ignored around Florida.

In Hernando County, traffic officials have spent months re-calculating yellow light intervals under FDOT guidance, but the new state minimums actually reduced some of the city's intervals at red-light camera intersections.  10 News showed how shorter yellows were helping the state rake in more than $50 million in revenue annually from RLC citations.

"We will not allow yellow lights reduced to create more red light camera tickets," Turner told 10 News on Thursday.  "No reasonable person wants the yellow light times shortened....if they can be extended, that's what we want."

FDOT tells 10 News that any city that wishes to extend its yellow lights by an additional half-second to accommodate older drivers or large trucks, as recommended by the USDOT, would be allowed to.  Further extensions would require more engineering analysis.

In Brooksville, recent timing changes have affected RLC intersections.  You can read the current yellow interval lengths - and 2012 interval lengths - here.

Brooksville and Hernando County have been battling over the city's RLC for years, but the county's chief RLC opponent, Commissioner Joe Adkins applauded the city's initiative to extend yellow lights.

Since the airing of the 10 News investigation, FDOT is also now fast-tracking the addition of an additional 1/3 of a second to all yellow lights in Florida to accommodate older drivers' slower reaction time.

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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