For those who believe the yellow light means “floor it,” the question of whether you can beat the red may soon come down to counting to three.
That’s the number of seconds state lawmakers want to mandate that the light has to remain yellow before it turns red — and before you can get an expensive ticket. Rep. Frank Antenori, R-Tucson, said it will end what he believes is the practice in some communities of having a short cycle.
More to the point, Antenori says that’s no accident.
“It’s to make money,” he said. “I’ve gotten so many complaints. I’ve gotten video tape from people who have gotten citations that have videoed the yellow at certain intersections that were less than three seconds in duration.”
The issue struck a responsive chord with lawmakers: HB2338 was approved by the House on Wednesday on a 36-24 margin and now goes to the Senate.
Central to the legislation is Antenori’s belief that traffic intersections are now becoming the equivalent of speed traps.
Antenori acknowledged that the state and most cities have engineers whose job description includes figuring out the proper duration of a yellow light. That is based on factors including the speed limit on the road and the number of lanes that need to be crossed.
Even with that, he said three seconds is “already pretty much the accepted standard” for the minimum duration for a yellow light.
The objections from foes dealt less with the question of what’s a proper length than the whole question of why legislators are making such laws. Rep. Tom Chabin, D-Flagstaff, said there are bigger issues to be resolved, including balancing a state budget.
“I am amazed that we have a $3.4 billion deficit and we are entertaining a bill because someone in Tucson got a ticket,” he said.
Antenori’s bill actually protects motorists from those red light cameras in a second way. It would forbid communities that operate automated traffic cameras from citing motorists who enter the intersection less than one full second after the light turns red.
The bill now goes to the Senate.