Red Light, Yellow Light: Red-light citations plummet in Arnold

Motorists driving along roadways maintained by the Missouri Department of Transportation could receive fewer red-light camera tickets if preliminary reports from Arnold hold true statewide.

Beginning in February, MoDOT began changing the yellow-light signal times throughout Arnold. In general, the change to the signals has lengthened the amount of time the light stays yellow.

For example, motorists traveling southbound through the intersection of Highway 141 and Astra Way now have 1.6 seconds more yellow time — from 4 seconds to 5.6 seconds. MoDOT has also changed the length of time that all signals at an intersection appear red, giving more time to clear the intersection before someone gets a green.

istockphoto

In so doing, MoDOT has triggered an unintended consequence — the number of red-light runners caught by photo enforcement in Arnold has plummeted.

In January, the city issued 691 red-light camera citations. By March, the number of citations had plunged to 263. And last month, the vendor that operates Arnold's red-light cameras — American Traffic Solutions — confirms that it issued just 198 citations. That's a drop of 72 percent from January.

Tom Blair, MoDOT's assistant engineer for the St. Louis region, says that he doesn't anticipate other cities seeing such steep declines once MoDOT finishes changing all its signal speeds across the state. For starters, although all Arnold's red-light cameras happen to be on roadways controlled by MoDOT, that's not the case in most cities. In St. Louis, just over half of the city's 25 intersection with red-light cameras are along MoDOT controlled roadways.

Plus, Blair says, "in Arnold, the speed limit on the roads with these cameras is also higher than what you'd have in most places, including St. Louis," he says. "For example, the speed limit on Highway 141 in Arnold is 60 miles per hour, and thus the need for a longer yellow."

MoDOT is changing the signal speeds based on national standards that take into consideration actual driving speeds (not the posted speed limit) and other factors.

"Unfortunately drivers are a lot more distracted these days with cell phones, GPS, satellite radio, etc.," says Blair. "And they're also driving faster, which can necessitate the need for a longer yellow and longer all-red to make sure the intersection is safe and clear."

Charles Territo, the spokesman for American Traffic Solutions, says that his company is "pleased" with the reduced number of violations in Arnold, which became the first Missouri city to install red-light cameras in 2005.

But Territo doesn't give the longer yellow sole credit for the drop in citations. He suggests that the cameras themselves have played a role in curbing unsafe driving.

"Fewer violations means that driver behavior is changing and that the unsafe driving practices that increase the likelihood of collisions are decreasing," says Territo.

But Doris Borgelt, an Arnold council member who was elected to office in April, says she was shocked to see the reduction in red-light citations after requesting the information from the police department. She says her colleagues on the council have turned a deaf ear to her findings and recently considered placing a fifth city intersection under red-light camera surveillance.

Borgelt passed her findings on to Matt Hay, a vocal opponent of the cameras who, as an Arnold councilman from 2008 to 2010, tried to rid the city of its contract with the photo-enforcement company. Since leaving the council, Hay has created the website WrongOnRed.com, which criticizes the use of the cameras.

"Since the number of citations in Arnold had doubled from the first full year that these cameras were installed through the end of last year, it raises the question on what is the effective means of making roads safer," he says. "Is it cameras — or proper engineering of traffic signals? The results seem to indicate the latter, but then that doesn't generate any revenue through tickets."

 
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32 comments
Sbock44
Sbock44

I am pleased to see that the most notoriously inept highway department I have ever experienced in the country is starting to actually connect the dots. A high five for MoDot.

Carolbyas59
Carolbyas59

Why is the yellow light seconds being increased for the Arnold area? It should be done state wide.

Skampkidwell
Skampkidwell

This article is a good excuse to take the heat off red light cameras and show how they are normal or accepted and that longer yellows, ALONG with red light cameras is the way to go. No thanks. I don't think I should he forced to pay for these stupid things and then pay for a ticket. Besides, no cop in court, no witness to any offense, camera or not.

Get rid of these cameras. Don't let them shift the focus to longer yellows unless they remove the cameras. They want our money and that is it. The wrongonred.org website is absolutely correct. Trash these cameras, break them, flip them off, spit on them and the civil servants who propose them.

Suesue
Suesue

arnold police park on streets that have 30mph speed limits that should be 40mph and give out ticket after ticket to make money not for safety.they should be driving around the stores where cars are taken and broken into everyday.

Balancedspirit
Balancedspirit

Since Arnold put in red light cameras, I tend to shop elsewhere and avoid going to Arnold so I don't get a ticket. There have been times when a tractor trailer in front of me made it so I couldn't see the light was actually yellow and turning red so I went through the red light and I just avoid shopping there altogether now.

Arnoldiscrooked
Arnoldiscrooked

Arnold is crooked period! From dangerous and illegal traffic cameras. to ILLEGAL DUI arrest. Known Arnold police scam...Pull you over, give you a breathalizer test, and if your below the legal limit, they throw out the results and call it a DUI instead, which is much easier to prove.

I knew that light was way to fast, and now it proves Arnold would prefer to put us all in danger to make a proffit. Thay should be ashamed! What are the stats for crashes at that intersection to the timing of the yellow lights? Bet money it was higher before MO dot got involved and adjusted the timing.

Thanks MO Dot for starting to address Arnolds Illegal activities.

huangbrong
huangbrong

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Vern
Vern

I've never understood why countdown (time remaining) Green lights aren't standard traffic signals. I would be willing to bet that most late Yellow runners are people that were afraid of the car behind them when the Green light suddenly changes to Yellow.

yahoo-IC7MOZOWRMULOLHHGKWCNLQ3ME
yahoo-IC7MOZOWRMULOLHHGKWCNLQ3ME

I know exactly where this is at. Although I don't go that way often, thankfully. I would intentionally slow down through this area well below the posted speed limit just so I could get stopped if it turned yellow. We don't all drive Corvettes that can stop on a dime. MoDot should pay back all of the tickets issued previously and take it off the driver's record.

PillowPants
PillowPants

I clicked to read this, as I personally got a ticket in the mail for passing through Astra Way on 141.... it was at night,so I was very able to see the flash; let me tell you, the flash happened about 0.005 seconds after the light turned red. I even have a copy of the picture it took, somewhere on here...

me
me

That was set up as a speed trap. The new light setting reflect the proper time given the speed limit needed to stop. Arnold had it set at 30 miles and hour not 55 for the last couple of years. Almost every ticket they gave was bogus. This isn't about safety it is about money. Vote the crooks responsible out!!!

DiegoHenry
DiegoHenry

Per the engineering formula used by California and other states, the absolute minimum yellow in a 60 mph zone should be 5.4. So, the new 5.6 yellow on 141 is basically the bare minimum, and a further increase of another second would bring a substantial further decrease in the number of violations, and the number of tickets. Probably cut the number in half, again.

David
David

PhotoRadarscam, your comment is absolutely RIGHT ON! : ) Camera's can't and won't stop intentional red light running; and now the unintentional one's can be reduced due to the appropriately timed YELLOW lights. :D

PhotoRadarscam
PhotoRadarscam

To claim that red light cameras are the best solution, one needs to show that the red light running is intentional, as cameras cannot deter unintentional or unintended acts.

Clearly, no engineering studies were done to identify the CAUSE of red light running prior to installing the cameras, as it appears that very few violations were intentional - drivers are stopping when given enough notice or time to clear the intersections. How can a camera fix an intersection with sub-optimal timing? IT CAN'T!

And ATS is not delighted. I promise they will be moving the camera as soon as they can. To try to take credit for the plummet in citations after adjusting light timing is just arrogance and lying.

Here's a webpage that details all of the engineering alternatives that could improve safety further. http://PhotoRadarScam.com/alte...

pillowpants
pillowpants

Yes, yes, they should... I've taken to simply busting a right turn and snaking around; rather than take a $100 gamble on the stupid camera... As I always say, when relating this story, that even had an Officer seen what I did, he would likely have shrugged it off. The light turned red as I was 1/2way thru the intersection.... whoop-dee-doo

 
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