Letter: Red-light camera yields questionable tickets

Aug 20, 2012 Read more: Florida Today 7
I want to shed light on an issue with the red-light camera at the intersection of Malabar Road and Emerson Drive. Read more
Gregg Croft

Palm Bay, FL

#1 Aug 21, 2012
In my opinion, the yellow light timing issue highlighted in this letter was caused by an innocent mistake that was completely unrelated to the red light cameras program. The 4.0 second yellow light duration at Malabar and Emerson has been in place since at least 2005, which was long before any red light camera program existed in Palm Bay. The last time these traffic lights were re-timed was July of 2009, which was several months before the red light camera equipment was operational. In 2009 Florida law clearly specified that a 45mph intersection needed to have a minimum yellow light duration of 4.3 seconds, same as today. I believe that Palm Bayís traffic engineers just made a mistake and missed this. Unfortunately this unintentional mistake has probably resulted in a significant number of people receiving unwarranted red light citations since January of 2010. Iím hopeful that the Palm Bay Public Works Department, lead by Director Elia Twigg P.E., will take prompt action to address this problem.

If youíre interested in reading the actual Florida state requirements for the durations of yellow lights itís available online at the following Florida Department of Transportation address.
http://www.dot.state.fl.us/trafficoperations/... .

If youíre interested in reading the 2008 City of Palm Bay Traffic Signal Retiming Study that contains a section describing the red light running survey itís available at the following address on the City of Palm Bayís web site. If you click on Appendices and then Appendix E you can view the raw data from the red light running survey.
http://www.palmbayflorida.org/growth/land/pub...
Gregg Croft

Palm Bay, FL

#2 Sep 29, 2012
Here's the original text of the letter to the editor since the link above doesn't seem to be working.

Palm Bay Red Light Camera Yields Questionable Tickets

I want to shed light on an issue with the red light camera installed at the intersection of Malabar Road and Emerson Drive. Many drivers are being ticketed unjustly because the duration of the yellow light is set too short according to state law.

Malabar road near Emerson Drive has a 45 MPH speed limit and the roadway has little or no slope according to a survey commissioned by the City of Palm Bay. Floridaís traffic engineering manual requires a minimum yellow light duration of 4.3 seconds for this set of conditions, in contrast to the 4.0 seconds currently in use at this intersection.

Three tenths of a second may not seem like much. However, in 2008 Palm Bay did a study on this intersection that showed approximately 40% of the red light violations occur in the first three tenths of a second after the light turned red. This implies that a large percentage of the red light camera tickets generated at this intersection since the program began in January of 2010 have been issued unjustly.

I implore the City of Palm Bay to correct this problem.
Gregg Croft

Palm Bay, FL

#3 Sep 29, 2012
After an inquiry by the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) the city of Palm Bay agreed to increase the duration of this yellow light from 4.0 seconds to 4.3 seconds. This change was implemented on 9/12/2012. Based on past data it's estimated this slight timing change to the yellow light duration will prevent about 200 people a year from receiving a red-light ticket at this intersection.
Gregg Croft

Palm Bay, FL

#4 Oct 13, 2012
Through a public records request, I now have a copy of the raw data for all the red-light camera citations issued in Palm Bay since the program began in early 2010. I've sorted this data to only look at the intersection of Malabar Road and Emerson Drive. It turns out that roughly 2300 red-light camera citations were issued at this intersection between January 1, 2010 and September 12, 2012. 824 of these tickets would not have been issued if the yellow light duration had been set to 4.3 seconds, the minimum required for a 45 mph intersection per the state standards back in July of 2009, instead of the 4.0 seconds that was used.

I recently asked the 3 candidates running for Mayor of Palm Bay, John Mazziotti, William Capote, and Will Conyers if they would support refunding the fines for people who received erroneous red-light citations. All 3 said they would support refunds if an error was made. I'm hopeful that the city of Palm Bay, soon to be led by one of these men, will proceed with a red-light citation refund program for the 824 people who were unjustly fined due to this short yellow light.

If anyone would like to contact me concerning this issue I can be reached at the following email address: PalmBayRedLightCameras@gmail.c om

Since: Oct 12

Apopka, FL

#5 Oct 20, 2012
Though I think red light cameras are wrong, unless the yellow time is 2 seconds or under the lenght of it shouldn't matter. A yellow is warning you a red is coming so we all should be stopping as soon as we see it, instead of trying to race through it as most of us do. Yes, I sometimes am guilty.
There are times however it wouldn't matter how long a yellow is. If yo are caught in a line of traffic that is moving through are you going to be the one to hit the brakes to not run the yellow/red? I think not.
Gregg Croft

Palm Bay, FL

#6 Oct 27, 2012
fldino wrote:
Though I think red light cameras are wrong, unless the yellow time is 2 seconds or under the lenght of it shouldn't matter. A yellow is warning you a red is coming so we all should be stopping as soon as we see it, instead of trying to race through it as most of us do. Yes, I sometimes am guilty.
There are times however it wouldn't matter how long a yellow is. If yo are caught in a line of traffic that is moving through are you going to be the one to hit the brakes to not run the yellow/red? I think not.
The faster you're driving the longer it takes to stop. At 15 MPH a 2 second yellow light may be plenty of time to stop before entering an intersection. However, at 45 MPH Florida State Traffic engineers have determined that you need at least a 4.3 second long yellow light to safely stop before entering an intersection. Here's a link to the Florida state standards. http://www.dot.state.fl.us/trafficoperations/...

The speed limit on Malabar Road near Emerson Drive is 45 MPH. Palm Bay had this yellow light timed too short per the state standards. This means if someone was driving the speed limit and hit their brakes the second they saw the yellow light they may not have had enough time to stop before entering the intersection. Palm Bay increased the yellow time from 4.0 seconds to 4.3 seconds to meet state law. I know 0.3 seconds doesn't seem like much. But at 45 MPH you cover about 20 feet in 0.3 seconds. That could be the difference between stopping before the intersection or stopping in the middle of the intersection.
Stuck in traffic

Melbourne, FL

#7 Sunday Mar 22
Palm Bay and Melbourne both suck...There lights are way to long and even at 3 am there working how come not blinking when there is no traffic...Love getting to a light and nobody is around...Typical bunch of idiots running these towns...And the roads are a joke not wide enough for any kind of traffic..192 is a bad dream and nothing is done to make it better...Hello it's 2015 do something to get rid of this traffic...

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