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South Pasadena red light cameras will keep short yellow lights, per City Commission

11:06 PM, Jun 11, 2013   |    comments
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SOUTH PASADENA, Fla. -- City Commissioners rebuffed their mayor - and a 10 News investigation - that suggested yellow lights at South Pasadena intersections may be too short for safe stopping.

Although the city is just 0.6 square miles big, its red light cameras at four intersections issued approximately $2 million in fines last year. 10 News revealed how the city's yellow lights were shorter than federal recommendations and it resulted in more red light camera (RLC) citations.

WATCH: Initial Short Yellows Investigation
TIMELINE: 10 News' Short Yellows Investigation

Mayor Dan Calabria told city commissioners Tuesday morning that the state's minimum yellow light lengths may not be sufficient after seeing the research and federal guidelines compiled in previous 10 News reports.

But commissioners responded by saying that drivers who are going faster than the posted speed limit deserve tickets anyway.  The posted speed limit on Pasadena Ave. is 35 mph, but 10 News observations indicate most drivers travel closer to 45 mph on the road.

Except common engineering practice is to set posted speed limits below drivers' "average" and "safe" speeds, so the only effects of short yellow lights are more RLC tickets and more panicked decisions, which can cause accidents.

Although FDOT announced a 0.4 second increase to its yellow light minimums statewide, the agency's top traffic signal engineer told 10 News full compliance with federal suggestions will be up to individual cities and counties.

South Pasadena did not follow the lead of Hillsborough County and the City of Brooksville, both of which requested longer yellow intervals from the state.

On Thursday, elected officials from both St. Petersburg and Pasco County will discuss their respective yellow light lengths.

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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