Cities Shortening Yellow Light Duration for Profit

A lot of cities in the United States are strapped for cash but a handful of them are taking extreme measures of raising funds by taking these steps:

1. Install red-light cameras
2. Shorten the yellow light duration
3. Profit!

Here is an article at the National Motorist Association about 6 cities that were caught shortening yellow traffic light durations for profit. Take Chattanooga, Tennessee, for example:

The city of Chattanooga was forced refund $8800 in red light cameras tickets issued to motorists trapped by an illegally short yellow time. The refund only occurred after a motorist challenged his citation by insisting that the yellow light time of 3.0 seconds was too short. LaserCraft, the private vendor that runs the camera program in return for a cut of the profits, provided the judge with a computer database that asserted the yellow was 3.8 seconds at that location.

The judge then personally checked the intersection in question was timed at three seconds while other nearby locations had about four seconds of yellow warning. City traffic engineer John Van Winkle told Bean that “a mix up with the turn arrow” was responsible and that the bare minimum for the light should be 3.9 seconds. (Source)

Link - Thanks Christophe! (Photo: Tmuna Fish [Flickr])

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Several years ago, on my way to work, I went through one of the same intersections I do every morning. As I entered the intersection, the light flashed yellow momentarily, then red. Immediately, an unmarked NYPD car came out of nowhere, lights flashing. After being ticketed, I went around the block to see how short the yellow light actually was.

The cop was parked by the light, and actually had the control box for the light open! He was controlling the light manually!

I fought the ticket in court, and managed to get the points on my license dismissed, but still had to pay the fine.

Talk about a rip off!
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Basing a budget for a community on traffic citations is irresponsible of the local government, and shortening yellow lights to prey on the public is reprehensible.

I'll give these guys the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps the yellow lights were shortened to lengthen the green lights, which might ease traffic congestions slightly.
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Actually, cities in America are finding red light cameras to be so effective that they're actually losing money.
Many cities are shutting the cameras off.
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