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News-Sentinel.com Your Town. Your Voice.
Opening Arguments

Show me the safety

Here we go again with the stupid red-light cameras. At least in New York they're not going on and on with a lot of disingenuous drivel about "public safety":

Drivers beware: Big Brother could be watching you at every Big Apple intersection soon.

The mayor's preliminary budget released Friday proposes to amend state law to allow for traffic-light cameras at "unlimited locations" in the city and to raise the fine from $50 to $100.

The program has been successful, and we want to expand it," Mayor Bloomberg spokesman Marc LaVorgna said.

The state Legislature has capped the number of cameras at 100. The cameras snap photos of cars passing through a red light - including the license plate. The registered owner of the vehicle is automatically mailed a ticket.

The preliminary budget calls for adding 20 more cameras, which would bring in $6.2 million in fiscal year 2009-10.

Yes, the idea is stil alive in Indiana. And officials here do go on and on about public safety. Guess they think we're too dumb to know it's all about the money.


William Larsen
Mon, 02/02/2009 - 1:09pm

Red light cameras might be a good idea, but first there has to be a standard in determining the length of the yellow light. I have searched in vain for the formula and the standard assumptions only to find that each light is left up to the traffic engineer.

With that in mind, what is the correct yellow light duration? First we start with the travel distance a car must traverse to get through the intersection and cross walks. for each lane of traffic, the duration must be increased. For cross walks that are offset from the intersection some two feet with a width of 8 feet, we are dealing with 20 feet excluding the intersection. At ten food wide lanes, we could be looking at 60 feet of travel distance which at 30 mph, would take 1.4 seconds. Now add in the reaction time distribution of 16 to 85 year olds and you most likely should add another 0.5 seconds. But we know a car does not stop instantanious which is where my question has always been. How fast do you decelerate? To come to a stop from 30 mph in 20 30 or 100 feet will take how long. If you cannot stop within the 1.9 seconds up to crossing into the intersection, then you must have sufficient time to stop or be caught in the intersection.

Warsaw has very short durations. Fort Wayne has some lights I think are way too short. But in any event, if red lights are to be installed, then the City or DOT needs to publish the formulas for calculating the yellow duration and have them calibrated on a routine method.

I myself think this wil llead to an increase in rear end collisions.

Steven T.
Tue, 02/03/2009 - 3:40am

I'm not sure what this pseudoscience amounts to, since the handbook always states that the person who gets the green light should always confirm it is safe before going ahead.

I'm not defending lawbreakers here at all, just pointing out the spirit of the law as we have long been told to apply it -- the cops are trained to favor "defensive" drivers over those who technically may be shown "in the right." In short, never demand your right of way, so they say. You might be judged "aggressive" rather than traveling in your lawful right of way.

Please, talk me out of this impression...

William Larsen
Tue, 02/03/2009 - 1:00pm

My position is not that it a right, but a law of physics that two objects cannot occupy the same space at the same time. We put safety factors on nuclear reactors, airplanes, and most everything else. Why not the duration of the yellow light. The yellow light is to allow time to clear the intersection. All I want is if they proceed with the camera, that they use common sense in setting the yellow light, otherwise they are going to have learn physics the hard way.

Michael B-P
Tue, 02/03/2009 - 1:47pm

The construction of roundabouts at suitable intersections may obviate the need for a good many of those cameras ostensibly to be installed for the purposes being discussed; such roundabouts would also enhance traffic flow, and,moreover, assign tax dollars to the employment of idled workers (e.g., those not currently engaged in the construction of a downtown hotel). Were it to be an "either/or" choice, the merits of roundabout construction would surpass the installation of cameras.