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Report: Yellow Lights At Some Camera-Equipped NYC Intersections Too Short

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- AAA is urging the city to review and recalibrate its red-light cameras after finding that motorists are not given enough time to get through intersections, according to a published report.

The group found that some intersections equipped with cameras have yellow lights that are well below the standard, in some cases as much as 15 percent, leading to many unjust tickets, the New York Post reported.

"We're at Amsterdam [Avenue] and 72nd [Street] northbound, we found 2.9, 2.8 [seconds]," Robert Sinclair with AAA New York told WCBS 880's Marla Diamond.

1010 WINS' Steve Sandberg reports


The light at 66th Street and West End on the Upper West Side has been rated one of the quickest reds by AAA, 1010 WINS' Steve Sandberg reported.

"The yellow here is short," one man said. "It's maybe two-thirds of the normal time on other traffic lights."

"If you're coming into a yellow you get stuck in the middle because it turns to red too quickly," another man said.

Motorists who view the program as a way for the city to raise revenue said it's the perfect place for a red-light camera.

"It's a nice way to raise some money for the city, I wouldn't doubt it for a second," another man said.

"The red light cameras should be set up given the prevailing rate of speed. The rate of speed that 85% of the vehicles are traveling. If they're set up for the speed limit that's not real. That's not taking into account the reality of the situation and you're creating a safety problem rather than solving one," Sinclair told CBS 2's Hazel Sanchez.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg reacted to the report, saying he does not see any issue with a quick transition from green to red.

"Keep in mind there is no regulation, it's totally up to the Department of Transportation and the whole idea here is to prevent you from running red lights. So maybe if you think there's less time, you won't try to do it," Bloomberg told reporters.

The mayor also said the yellow light is meant as a warning, not an indication to speed through the intersection.

"Running red lights kill people. It could kill you, it could kill your family," the mayor added.

WCBS 880's Marla Diamond reports


There are currently 150 intersections equipped with red-light cameras across the city and Mayor Michael Bloomberg is fighting to install more cameras on New York City streets.

"In the time they're talking about possibly expanding their program, we think that they need to clean up the program as it's already constituted and make sure that it's working right so that it's about safety and not revenue enhancement," Sinclair told Diamond.

Over the past five years, the cameras have brought in more than $235 million for the city, according to the Post.

"Seems that New York City has administered their red-light camera program very lazily," Sinclair told Diamond. "You can't just keep hitting motorists up for money whenever you're broke."

A statement from DOT commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan called the study bogus.

"Red-light cameras save lives and deter dangerous driving, and we should dedicate resources to dangers that are killing people instead of false 'gotcha' claims. Two of the locations in this 'study' don't even have red-light cameras and the other two—out of nearly 12,500 signalized intersections citywide—are properly timed," the statement read in part.

Earlier this year, New Jersey suspended its program after discovering that 63 of its 85 red-light cameras had not been calibrated to make sure the yellow light is long enough to comply with state law.

The cameras were certified for accuracy and re-calibrated to coincide with the speed at which 85 percent of drivers approach intersections.

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