Longer yellow light = fewer red light tickets

The graphic below is a follow-up on a story we had in March about how Fremont’s most ticketed red light camera intersection churned out a lot fewer tickets after Caltrans increased yellow light times. The intersection is Mission  and Mohave, and Caltrans extended  the yellow light from 4.3 to 5 seconds last November.

Click on the photo to enlarge.

Matt Artz


  1. Let’s credit Jay Beeber for producing the nice graphic. Jay is the citizen activist who virtually single handedly brought the fraud of these cameras to the attention to the Los Angeles Police Commission with the result of L.A. getting out of the camera business.

  2. There is no significant rebound effect, once again debunking that myth. Collision rates cannot effectively be measured in such a short period of time. In addition, one of the major factors affecting collision rates is the avg. daily traffic. Many proponents of cameras often cite fewer collisions in the last few years without acknowledging that the downturn in the economy and the high price of gas has meant fewer vehicles.

  3. Credit Jay Beeber for producing the chart. Jay is the citizen activist who virtually single handedly brought the fraud of the cameras to the attention of the Los Angeles Police Commission with the result that L.A. is now out of the camera business

  4. One year is not sufficient time to evaluate collision rates. One thing police and proponents of cameras do is to cite a reduction in collision rates in recent years and crediting the cameras. They usually do not acknowledge the reduction in collisions nationally which is largely due to reduced vehicular traffic…most likely due to poor economy (fewer driving to work) and the high price of gas.

  5. Let me add that of the few citations now being issued, roughly 2 out of 3 are issued to right-turners. One-third go to those turning left or going straight. The people of California through their legislature have voted overwhelmingly that the $480 fine for a rolling right turn is not appropriate. The Governor vetoed the legislation because the finance director pointed out the millions in lost revenue if the fine were cut in half. Safety is not the reason we have the cameras.

  6. Two other excellent news stories about the cameras were published during the last week.

    Both KTVU and the Almanac newspaper published stories about the fake tickets (street name: Snitch Tickets) that many cities send out to fool registered owners into revealing the identity of the person driving the vehicle. The publication of the stories is significant, because until now, the police have managed to keep a lid on publicity about this sneaky – but legal – practice.

    The way to recognize one of the fakes is that it will not have the name and address of the local branch of the Superior Court on it. Instead, it will direct you to contact something with a generic name like the Traffic Violations Bureau – which will manned either by camera company personnel, or by the local police. (If you contact the “Bureau” it’s all over for you – kiss $550 goodbye.)

    If you receive one of the fake tickets, the correct response is… no response. Do not respond to a fake ticket. Do not contact the police by phone, by mail, or by computer. Don’t go to a cop holiday party, get drunk, and start babbling. But DO show the fake ticket to your trusted friends, to educate them, so that they won’t fall for one of the fakes.

  7. May 18 2012 Letter to the Ed updates discussion on this topic –


    Because BANG appears to, in the name of efficiency, sweep this (and all other hosted content) under the carpet in time, here’s a cut-n-paste;

    May 18 letters to the editor
    Letters from our readers
    Oakland Tribune
    © Copyright 2011, Bay Area News Group

    Fremont nabs speeders with yellow-light trick

    At Mowry Avenue and Farwell Drive in Fremont is a red-light camera. It captures more straight-through violations than any other camera in Fremont because it has a short yellow light. Here is how it has been shortened.

    The city has measured the prevailing speed of traffic at 45 mph, but has set the minimum yellow light time for a speed of 40 mph. While legal, this allows the city to shave one-half second from the yellow light.

    Studies show that shortening a yellow light by one-half second actually doubles the number of violations.

    Adding back that half-second will reduce citations from 2,000 per year to about 1,000. This is the stated goal of the cameras — namely, to reduce red-light running. This is exactly what happened when the yellow light at Mission Boulevard and Mohave Drive in Fremont was extended in 2010. The move is so effective and so easy.

    This legal trick costs motorists about $400,000 each year in unnecessary fines. The city pockets about $130,000 of this money. That is why the change is not made.

    Roger Jones


  8. 1.) Anyone that argues the point that it’s AOK to rest on the laurels of a singular state-mandated MINIMUM yellow duration – isn’t fully informed, OR, doesn’t want YOU to be.

    “ITE recommends yellow duration to be calculated with Equation(1)(ITE, 1989). . . . .” – (note: the full recommended equation can be found on page 194 of the link provided below)

    2.) “A supplemental strategy to counter the safety impacts of reduced yellow time is adding an adequate clearance interval (all-red phase). This strategy effectively compensates yellow time with all-red time. To ensure safety of intersection operation, the total length of change interval (i.e. yellow plus all-red) should be guaranteed. Therefore, lengthening clearance interval will not undo the effects of trapping more red-light runners after shortening yellow interval, and also not cause burden on related agencies for increasing crash rates.”

    So in conclusion – the admitted effects of a short-yellow (increased RLR) can be mitigated with an all-red. This all-red period delivers the dual benefit of mitigating the negative consequences of intentionally abbreviated yellows, BUT, maintains the benefit of not messing with the revenue production.

    Once again – based on information garnered from parties who DO NOT HAVE AN ECONOMIC INCENTIVE IN THE DEBATE – if you’re interested in safety only – you extend yellows. If you are interested in maximizing camera revenue – but not get busted for abbreviated yellows – you add an all-red.

    Time and time and time again- I continue to arrive at the same conclusion. It’s about the money.


  9. Roger Jones presents some very compelling DATA on the RLC topic here –


    “Back in November of 2010 Caltrans lengthened the yellow light at Mission and Mohave from 4.3 seconds, the legal minimum, to 5.0 seconds. There was an immediate 75% reduction in straight through violations according to the data provided by Redflex, the camera vendor. This lower rate has been sustained for the ensuing three years and the 4th quarter data of 2013 shows an even greater degree of safety; 82% fewer violations than pre-2010 levels.”

    AND –

    “Caltrans lengthened the left turn yellow arrow at Mission Blvd and Mohave Dr. from the legal minimum of 3.0 seconds to a more generous 4.0 seconds. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . there was an 82% reduction in potential left turn violations”

    But it gets better than that, as Roger later states –

    ” At the remaining eight intersections where yellow light timing has remained unchanged, there has actually been a 13% increase in 2013 compared with 2012. Not a reduction of 58% to 82%, but an actual increase.”
    What caused the other eight intersections to increase? It’s speculative, but odds are that MORE TRAFFIC is a contributing factor. As the overall area economy improves and increasing numbers of drivers hit the roads . . . you’re gonna see increasing numbers of RLC violations.
    The point is that if violations are typically offered up by everyone as a simple percentage increase year over year. It’s meaningful, but doesn’t tell the entire story. See, if, as Roger reported, violations fell by 58 or 82% BUT traffic THROUGH these same intersections actually INCREASED (as data from the OTHER intersections seems to suggest) – then the reduction in RLC violations is ACTUALLY significantly better than that which is reported by Roger Jones.
    But never mind that – – – it’s all about safety (wink – wink). . . .
    Come on Vinnie – the data is agonizingly compelling. Do you and Bill and Anu STILL want to sit on the laurels of your personal anecdotes when it comes to defending these money makers ??????

  10. I completely agree with all those analysis, what bothers me is our Fremont Council members are not doing a damn thing about there Red Light cash cow, they need to be ashamed and voted out of office. This will be a campaign issue, in 2014 and if not resolved 2016…

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