Yellow Light Time Investigation Prompts Change and More Questions - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

2/5/07

Yellow Light Time Investigation Prompts Change and More Questions

One day after a NewsChannel 11 Investigation into yellow traffic light times, the Lubbock City Council has confusing information that is sparking a lot of questions.

NewChannel 11 took a simple equation to time yellow lights at 12 intersections in Lubbock.  We figured one second of yellow for every 10 miles per hour of the posted speed limit.  That was given by City Engineer Jere Hart in a report.  For instance, an intersection with a 50 mph posted speed limit should have a five second yellow.  Well, not quite.  It is actually more confusing than that.

"You're probably going to hear a lot of things out of city hall that's not the only factor; speed, miles per hour, width, as well as number of incidents or car accidents all go into determining the yellow light times.  They (city engineers) are kind of backing away from the one second of the 10 mph," said Lubbock City Councilman, John Leonard. 

Leonard says he got a spreadsheet from Hart on Friday, the day after our story aired.  He says the information is hard to believe. It shows two sets of times; the ones we found and the ones the city calculated.  The spreadsheet even shows that the intersection at Parkway and Zenith hasn't been updated in 12 years.  Our investigation showed a short yellow light that has since been recalibrated.

"I don't know if this is certified information.  But somehow, we have different sets of numbers," said Leonard.

That also has the rest of the city council members scratching their heads, including Mayor David Miller, the same man pushing to bring red light cameras to Lubbock.

"That brings the question up - have we been timing these lights the way that we should?  That's not bringing any shadow of a doubt on our traffic engineer," said Miller.

Councilman Gary Boren has his own set of questions as well.  "What would make it off time? How can we prevent it from going off time?  We have to make sure all the yellow lights are timed correctly," said Boren.  He says he is not in favor of red light cameras going up until the yellow light times are certified to be the correct times.

Even Councilman Jim Gilbreath agrees.  "I think we need to go back and check them all and make sure they all fall within the national standards," said Gilbreath. 

Whatever the national standard may be, Miller, Boren, and Leonard contend that perhaps a third party needs to make certain what times are the right times. 

"Do you think you would be asking of these things if we didn't do our report?," asked NewsChannel 11. 

"No, so I want to thank you for bringing it to our attention," said Miller.  

Councilman Floyd Price says he would like for the city to go back and check all the yellow light times. We were unable to reach Councilwomen Phyllis Jones and Linda DeLeon for comment.

Tuesday, the city council is set to discuss the contract for red light cameras.  NewsChannel 11 has been told some of the concerns you have read in this report will be discussed at the city council meeting.

2/1/07
Are Yellow Traffic Light Times Safe in Lubbock?
A shorter yellow light might just guarantee more tickets to the city of Lubbock once red light cameras are installed. But we have been guaranteed that is not going to happen because the yellow lights are already properly timed. NewsChannel 11's Cecelia Jones investigates yellow light times, are they set at a safe time? 

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