Many drivers disdain them and countless have fallen victim to them. New York City's red light cameras catch thousands of drivers every day and collect millions in fines every year. But the city may be cashing in while breaking the rules of the road, according to a new study.
The AAA of New York says many of the city's traffic lights turn too quickly from green to red.
"As it stands right now, drivers simply don't have enough time to make that 'go, no-go decision' when the light turns yellow and that's not safe" said the AAA's Robert Sinclair Jr.
As part of the study Sinclair visited two dozen of the city's 170 red light cameras. The standard time for a yellow light, according to the Department of Transportation, should be three seconds for the typical 30 mph intersection. Sinclair said every light he visited was shorter than three seconds and some were 15% shorter than the standard time.
"Every split second counts on the road," Sinclair said. "Some drivers are clearly breaking the law, but then there are many who are right on the cusp."
The findings come as Mayor Bloomberg pushes for state approval to expand the program in what he calls an effort to increase safety on the roads. On Monday he said there was no legal requirement for the length of the yellow light and dismissed AAA's findings.
"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," said Mayor Bloomberg. "I'm not sure why we give you any time at all. Running red lights kill people," he added
While running red lights could kill, officials with AAA say shortened yellow lights also cause accidents. They're calling for the program to be put on hold until the state legislature establishes timing guidelines.