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Who's great idea was this?! Red lights triggered by speeders!

Discussion in 'Other Off Topic Forum' started by Alxlee, Apr 7, 2004.

  1. Alxlee

    Alxlee F1 Rookie

    Apr 8, 2002
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    Alex Lee
    From today's SF Chronicle:
    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2004/04/07/MNG8N61MGG1.DTL

    I'm not going to copy and paste the whole story here since it's pretty long, but here's some info:

    "Pleasanton is about to turn the fast into the furious.

    In a move unprecedented in the Bay Area, the city's traffic engineers have created a traffic signal with attitude. It senses when a speeder is approaching and metes out swift punishment.

    It doesn't write a ticket. It immediately turns from green to yellow to red.

    Residents and commute-jockeys said Tuesday that the light, which the city plans to unveil today on Vineyard Avenue at the intersection of Montevino Drive, is either an inspired leap into the future or a blatant example of government overzealousness.

    "It's kind of big-brotherish, but sometimes it's the price we pay for safety," said JoAnne Brewer, 49, who walked her golden retriever past the new signal Tuesday morning and predicted it would be a success.

    "I'm not much of a speeder myself," Brewer added. "It's my husband that it will catch."

    Drivers on the two-lane Vineyard, as they approach Montevino, will see an electronic sign that gives the speed limit -- 40 mph heading west and 35 mph going east -- then flashes their actual speed.

    A camera about 350 feet from the intersection measures speed and tells the light whether to do its business. Traffic engineers plan to give drivers a few miles per hour of wiggle room. But once speeding is detected, the red light will turn on for at least 10 seconds -- or 30 seconds-plus if cross traffic is waiting..."

    Couple of my thoughts, isn't this an accident waiting to happen? Why didn't they just put a red light camera there too? I'm sure some will be going too fast to slow down in time.
     
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  3. Schatten

    Schatten F1 World Champ
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    Apr 3, 2001
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    My thoughts exactly. They are just trying to accellerate Darwinism here. This is far worse than shortening the yellow lights for red-light-cameras.
     
  4. WILLIAM H

    WILLIAM H Three Time F1 World Champ

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    I predict that light will be red almost constantly, snarling traffic at that intersection. Morons
     
  5. tvrfreak

    tvrfreak F1 Rookie
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    Kind of good, and I am a chronic speeder. I would much rather have this than get a ticket which does nothing but enrage me.

    -It's a fair system, not relying on a cop's judgement of speed or which red car to pick on.
    -It brings the focus (currently on revenue collection) back to safety.
    -It does away municipalities' abuse of authority for revenue collecting
    -It relieves the traffic court system somewhat.
    -It's much, much cheaper to implement than live cops.
    -If done right, it's much safer than implementing live cops.
    -It reinforces the message that speeding does not save time.

    As for causing accidents, I think 350 yards is plenty of distance to slow down from 60/70mph, which is about what a speeder would end up doing on a nice straight, empty stretch that is within urban limits. I would just make sure the light is visible from a distance, or put an additional warning light that there is a red light ahead. If a car can't stop, from, say, 110mph, at least it will have slowed down significantly so that there is less damage/injury in an accident.

    I would also make sure the yellow light's duration conforms to the law, or is set to slightly longer. Even people who try to beat the light will generally slow down for a yellow light that is still 300-350 yards away.

    I would also put up a sign explaining what is happening. If a speeder does not realize he is being penalized, he will not cool his jets, and might be tempted to speed even more once the light turns green, both to relieve his impatience and to possibly make up the time.

    I would also not change the intersecting lanes' lights to green if an unusually high speed is detected. Placing a human obstacle in front is not a smart way to slow down a speeder or avoid an accident.

    If the light is constantly red, they will need to rethink the posted safe speed limit on that stretch of road. This is the other thing that enrages me about traffic enforcment. Cars and road conditions have improved significantly, and in a lot of areas you can proceed safely even at twice the speed limit. Hopefully the limits set won't be arbitrary and will be appropriate for the road conditions.

    Some information on stopping distances.
     
  6. tvrfreak

    tvrfreak F1 Rookie
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    Schatten,
    shortening the yellow light is the wrong thing to do, and illegal. It is designed to "catch" more people, ostensibly to make more money. It does nothing to make people conform to the law. In fact, it makes compliance more difficult.

    This doesn't try to increase the number of violators and does not try to collect money. This makes people comply with the law, and makes it painless to do so.

    I don't see the parallel.
     
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  8. Alxlee

    Alxlee F1 Rookie

    Apr 8, 2002
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    It's wrong, but it's been done. There was a controversy in this state when the camera's were first put into service with yellow light periods dropping. There should be a standard (I think it was like 4 or 5 seconds) for the duration of a yellow light. They justified the shorter yellows by saying that with a lower speed limit a car doesn't need as much time to stop, which is true, but if you set a standard that all yellow lights shall be no less than 4 (or 5) seconds, you should stick to it. Otherwise, change the statute so that the standard is a minimum of 2 or 3 seconds.
     
  9. Alxlee

    Alxlee F1 Rookie

    Apr 8, 2002
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    Some good points, you're right, this is much better than a ticket. BTW, I believe it's 350 feet versus 350 yards.

    I think how much they allow in variance will have a lot to do with it. Around here most of the 35 MPH roads see traffic flow in the 45-50 MPH range.
     
  10. tvrfreak

    tvrfreak F1 Rookie
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    Yeah, I know they reduced the yellow light durations. They were caught and all the people convicted of the offense(s) had their convictions overturned and their payments refunded.

    In San Francisco, an attorney was defending his client and timed the camera at the intersection where his client had received a ticket. The yellow light duration was found to be under the minimum required by law, even though the red and green weren't. It was on his mind on his way home when he noticed the durations of some other yellow lights were similarly short. That's how it unravelled, IIRC. A lot of red faces over that one. :)

    I didn't know it happened in DE as well. I am beginning to think it's because states hire a private company to process the tickets and pay them on a percentage basis. Definitely needs to be looked at.

    Will get a mod to edit my posts for the 350 feet, not yards. 350 feet is enough to stop in from 60/70mph, per the table referenced earlier. I caught it at the end but forgot that I had mentioned the 350 yards in a couple of other places...thanks!
     
  11. Schatten

    Schatten F1 World Champ
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    As Alxlee pointed out, it has been done. Actually it's been done quite a bit. The # of tickets that were issued were astounding, and because of this, they increased their margins by reducing the amount of time a yellow light existed.

    The parallel here, might not be so analogous, but more in lines of tampering with how signals are stated by the law. By tampering, or rather, altering how they behave for specific traffic conditions can have it's advantages and it's disadvantages. Here, I don't see a great idea, but a thrown together implimentation. The speeder, say, going 50 mph in a 35, is prompted by a quick yellow then red light. That speeder, assuming it is a he, will either quickly brake or continue on through the light regardless. If the brakes aren't up to par, then that individual will not stop and the consequences will be devistating for the traffic light turning green. In the fast & furious world, stopping isn't a priority, but getting there quickly is. So, the brakes will always be sub par, even in basic up keep, because they are not necessary to go fast on a 1/4 mile or even 1/8 mile track.

    If it is painless to impliment and it works well, perhaps causing a delay in the green until it's expected time, then I'll sit back and watch with an objective eye. Until then, smart lights like these described might keep people on their toes, or change driving altogether. Thus, 'patterns' will be obsolete in the day-to-day commute. I don't have any fear of myself and how I can accept it. But the heavy SUV's, cell phone talkers, etc. - they better have that phone off the hook, because they are going to have a serious wake up call.
     
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  13. JaguarXJ6

    JaguarXJ6 F1 Veteran

    Feb 12, 2003
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    I thought about several sets of lights 1/8th a city block apart that are set to go to green on the first and the second one immediately goes to a don't walk for 5 seconds, 2-3 second yellow, and red.

    One in particular on my way home. If I'm first in line, I will accelerate moderately to 50mph, and then slow down and can coast the rest of the way home.

    By doing this, I'm caught by 1 stop light 50% of the time and 2 stop lights the other 50% of the time for the 3 mile trip. In Burbank, this means 7 additional traffic lights.

    By not doing this, I'm caught by all 7 stop lights.

    Sometimes I can get through this light being one or two cars back in the pack if the front runners like to accelerate.

    Moving water in a canal is one thing, but this doesn't help traffic. Burbank needs the stick from their ass removed.

    Edit: I thought about this when I was showering and thinking about how dark it was and the drive to the office, before this thread came up. :)

    Sunny
     
  14. Sfumato

    Sfumato F1 Veteran
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    Umm, why is speed limit different for which direction you travel? If you travel 35, you'll hit lights, but 40, you won't? They're timed for 37.5? If you travel fast enough, you could run the red before it changed? or a well flown RC plane could screw up the commute for weeks on end :D
     
  15. Mitch Alsup

    Mitch Alsup F1 Veteran

    Nov 4, 2003
    7,077
    In a study of yellow light time, it was found that over 96% fo red light runners would not run the red light if the Yellow was illuminated for as little as 2 more seconds!

    This new scheme of automagically going red when a speeder approaches is "not what this country is all about"; however, it is better than raising a 2" thick sheet of forged steel in the path of the speeder preventing that car from ever speding again, but not much.
     
  16. Slim

    Slim Formula 3

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    Is this a single lane in each direction road? If not, and even if it is, it's going to catch a lot of people at the red light who weren't speeding. I.e. they were in front of the speeder that caused the light to go red. Talk about potential road rage when the speeder pulls up next to them at the light "thanks for turning the light red, *******" etc...
     
  17. infraredline

    infraredline Formula 3

    Mar 15, 2004
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    at 80 mph you can travel over 350 ft in 3 seconds. You'd only need to be going 65 mph if they use a 4 second yellow. Was anyone else thinking the same thing?
    I'm going to drive home from work that way today and see what it looks like.
     
  18. JimSchad

    JimSchad Guest

    what happens when two cars are speeding at 90 degree angles? both lights go red? then what? what if all 4 directions are speeding?
     
  19. writerguy

    writerguy F1 Veteran

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    God you can tell you live in Dallas,, All the cars will be speeding and Yellow light are just a suggestion....
     
  20. anotherguy

    anotherguy F1 Rookie

    Feb 22, 2004
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    And seeing a turn signal on the highway is a warning signfor you to speed up so the signaling vehicle can't get in front of you.

    -ag
     
  21. writerguy

    writerguy F1 Veteran

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    No no no A turn signal here just identifies you as an un armed tourist
     
  22. TexasF355F1

    TexasF355F1 Four Time F1 World Champ
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    It sounds like a logically good idea. In retrospect I can see it causing far more accidents.
     
  23. tvrfreak

    tvrfreak F1 Rookie
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  24. djs308

    djs308 Formula Junior
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    Last I heard, at least in NYC, a yellow light stays on one second for every 10mph in the posted speed limit. So for instance, if the speed limit is 30, the yellow is supposed to stay on for at least 3 seconds. If it's 50mph, then it's on for 5 seconds. I haven't timed it but it seems about right. Don't know if this is true elsewhere.
     

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