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Chicago stoplights raise questions

October 24, 2014

Not long ago, the city of Chicago made the news for illegally shortening their yellow light times.

The legal limit for yellow light times in the city of Chicago is 3.0 seconds. However, the yellow lights were shortened to 2.9 seconds.

While 0.1 of a second seems insignificant, the reality is that the change generated 77,000 tickets and nearly $80,000 in revenue, according to the Chicago Tribune.

The culprits, of course, are the government officials who decided that they needed to come up with a creative way to find more cash.

Red light cameras have long been a pain to motorists. There have been controversies such as this all across the country as far back as 2006. There have even been moments where judges themselves will go out to traffic lights to time them in order to decide whether or not they need to throw out a ticket.

Studies have been done on whether or not these cameras prevent accidents and speeding or whether they actually worsen the problem.

The fact that there are studies and statistics released on this in the first place is problematic. Even more problematic is the reaction that red light cameras cause to motorists.

When a driver approaches an intersection with a red light camera and the light turns yellow, they now either need to hit the brakes to avoid a ticket or speed up to get through the light before it turns red.

They no longer safely make the decision on whether or not they can get through that intersection legally. It causes an overreaction and a panic, especially if the driver can’t afford to pay for another ticket.

Red light cameras themselves are a problem, but illegally shortening the yellow light times is even worse.

Motorists can no longer accurately gauge whether or not they can make it through that light. Judgment is thrown off and the roads become even more dangerous.

If politicians claim to be looking out for our safety, then why are they allowing the yellow light times to be shortened?

People who are operating cars need to know – truthfully – whether or not they can make it through an intersection. If the light turns before they expect it could easily cause an accident.

This dangerous way of raising revenue needs to be stopped. People are unaware that yellow light times are even being shortened – that is, until they receive an unfair ticket.

We need to stop this growing issue before more people get hurt, whether that’s in their wallet or in an accident.

Aimee Miller
Courier Copy Editor

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