A motorcyclist who was seriously injured at a Tampa intersection has notified
authorities of his intention to file a law suit against a Florida municipality
claiming that reducing the duration of the "yellow light" traffic
signal from 5.1 seconds to 4.7 second caused the driver in front of him
to stop short. As a result the motorcyclist had to put his bike down to
avoid colliding with the back of the car. 4.7 seconds is the state minimum
for a yellow light signal with a 50 mph approach. The claim states that
the installation of a red light traffic camera coincided with city officials
reducing the duration of the yellow light. As a result more infractions
occurred and more revenue was collected.
The motorcyclist was alerted of the potential for negligence on the part
of the police department and the municipality after WTSP 10 News in Tampa
investigated and found that the Tampa Police Department withheld reports
that show rear-end crashes increased dramatically at red light camera
intersections, all the while touting the efficacy of red light cameras
in reducing traffic accidents at the intersection. This was a study that
the Tampa Bay Police conducted but never released.
WTSP 10 News also found that the Tampa Bay Police only considers an incident
an "intersection crash" if it happens within 25 feet of the
stop bar while "neighboring cities and counties use a much greater
distance to include possible rear-end accidents." This stricter definition
has caused most rear-end collisions at the intersection to be excluded
from the statistics. Including all rear-end collision at the intersection
jumped 68 percent year over year once the red light cameras were installed
and the yellow light duration decreased.
When the duration of the yellow light was increased back to 5.5 seconds,
revenues from that intersection fell sharply.