Are the yellow lights shorter at red-light-camera intersections?

Published: Aug. 22, 2013 at 1:57 AM CDT|Updated: Oct. 21, 2013 at 2:15 AM CDT
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An East Texan says a stop-watch should get him out of a ticket. Van Bullock of Longview started timing the lights at one intersection after getting a ticket from a red light camera.

In an investigation, we checked out the lights in question to see if Bullock has a case.

Van Bullock said he believes the yellow lights at camera-enforced intersections are too short.

"I looked at the video and I really didn't agree with what I saw. So, I started researching the law on this," Bullock said.

He went to the intersection and timed the lights himself.

"You want to write a ticket? Come out here and get the intersection in full compliance," he said.

Bullock is referring to standards set by the Institute of Traffic Engineers. The standards determine how long yellow lights should be based on speed and grade of the roadway.

KLTV 7 hit the road to see if some Longview intersections met the state minimum recommendations. The results might have you keeping your foot on the break.

At Fourth Street and Loop 281, where Bullock's wife was ticketed, the speed limit is 50 miles per hour. According to ITE's recommendation, that means the light should stay yellow for 4.7 seconds, if the road is flat. However, the light was just shy of that. It stayed yellow for 4.5 seconds.

Texas Department of Transportation data shows that more than 7,000 tickets were issued from Longview's 8 camera intersections in 2011.

Judson Road and Hollybrook Drive was the intersection where the most tickets were issued, totaling more than 1,500.

At 45 miles per hour, the yellow light should last for 4.3 seconds, which is exactly what we found. However, both roads are at a slight downhill grade, which means the minimum time the light stays yellow should be even longer.

"I hate to say it, but I think it's all about money," said Bullock.

The City of Longview said that is not the case.

"Red light cameras have shown to actually reduce the amount of crashes in an intersection," said Longview Police Officer Kristie Brian.

Police department data shows that. There were 17 red-light-related wrecks at the intersections in 2011. That number was down from 22 in 2010.

Bullock isn't sure if he'll win his case, but he's going to keep fighting.

"I'm going to take this as far as I can. What I'd like to see is all of these cameras removed," he said.

The manager of Longview's red light camera program was not available Wednesday to discuss Bullock's claim.

LONGVIEW, TX (KLTV) - Copyright 2013 KLTV. All rights reserved.