Orlando Local News and The Umansky Law Firm Discuss Yellow Light Length Adjustments in Central Florida

Central Florida has been participating in using red light cameras at intersections in over 70 communities since the state law was passed in July, 2010. Since this year, Orlando news source The Observer article “Florida Changes Yellow Light Timing Laws” reported on October 9th that law enforcement has seen a decided decrease in accidents at these intersections, and though it hasn’t been long enough to track all the tickets, other community police departments stated in the Observer article that those drivers who had gotten one ticket were less likely to get another ticket.

Another news source in central Florida, the Orlando Sentinel reported in a September 27th article entitled “Seeing red over cameras? Lights will stay yellow a bit longer now” that there have been a growing number of complaints from drivers who received tickets, and the complaints suggest that the time is entirely too short on the yellow light to readjust the speed and stop. The drivers in Central Florida may now be seeing longer yellow lights at the intersections though because of the new bill that was just passed, according to the conclusion of the Orlando Sentinel article.

The state of Florida recently passed a ruling that requires yellow lights to last a little longer. By a “little” longer, yellow lights will be extended up to one half a second longer. This new standard will allow a driver going the posted speed limit, the benefit of getting through the longer yellow light. The state is extending the deadline to have the re-calibrations completed to the beginning of 2014.

Maitland is a typical city in Central Florida that has adopted the red light camera program with nine cameras covering five city intersections. Charlie Wallace, the Maitland Transportation Engineer, said in The Orlando Sentinel article that they will begin adjustments within the month. The Transportation System will begin checking the lights to see what needs to be corrected while ensuring that the traffic cycles are not affected by the changes.

Attorney William Umansky, founder of The Umansky Law Firm, has seen hundreds of traffic violations over the years. Many of them are red light infractions. When asked about the topic, he said “While cameras in theory work to prevent to save lives, it is still reflective of the fact of how much Americans are losing privacy every day from ‘Big Brother’. Every day in the name of safety our Government finds more and more ways to control our behavior.”

In the Orlando Sentinel Article, Deputy Police Chief Bill McEachnie states that he is not sure that the longer yellow light will make a difference on traffic or the number of tickets that are given out. He says that most of the drivers who run lights, “run them really good”.

Red-light camera tickets can be looked at from two perspectives, says McEachnie. Typically, people follow the same routes, and if they have received a ticket in the mail, chances are they are likely to be more careful driving through town. Cameras are a positive safety action for the city and produce more safety in traffic.

Secondly, McEachnie says that the revenue is a side issue, but it is significant. Each ticket is $158 and carries no points, and arrives uncontested in the mail. In the year 2012, Maitland registered 12,507 red-light camera violations. This totaled over $938,000 in revenue with the remainder from each ticket going to the state.

Legislators in Tallahassee might be looking to take the cameras out of local intersections in the near future. State Senator Jeff Brandes, a Rep. from St. Petersburg, has filed bill SB 144 to eliminate the red-light cameras across the state. His argument is that the majority of communities are focusing on the revenue they produce and not the safety issues.

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