Lubbock Traffic Engineer Jere Hart made a public statement that "...yellow light times follow the national standard of one second for every ten miles per hour of the posted speed limit."
NewsChannel 11 set out to test that statement at 12 intersections two months ago. We found 8 of them fell short. After our investigation, the Lubbock City Council voted to delay the installation of red light cameras and had the Texas Department of Transportation look over the yellow light times.
TXDOT received a list of intersections from the city of Lubbock last week. With pen in hand, they were ready to take a look.
"We reviewed the formulas they used to determine their clearance times intervals at these intersections and basically we approved it and found it was just fine," said Penny Mason, spokeswoman for TXDOT.
Mason is referring to two formulas the city apparently uses to figure out what the yellow and red light times should be. Those formulas were provided to TXDOT by the city.
"In order to verify if the numbers were correct, were they able to plug numbers into the formula?," asked NewsChannel 11.
"We looked at the formulas that they use, which came out of the ITE (Institute of Transportation Engineers) and the formulas are what came out of the manual," said Mason.
But how TXDOT validated those times might not bring comfort to those questioning the system. TXDOT says they do not certify times and they will not second guess what Hart thinks are right times for the city.
"Did TXDOT physically go out and take a look at all this stuff?" asked NewsChannel 11.
"No," said Mason.
"Was it a paper check?' asked NewsChannel 11
"Yes, absolutely," said Mason.
"Basically they asked our opinion. Everything looked fine and that was it," NewsChannel 11 said.
Councilman Gary Boren was one of three council members to vote against TXDOT looking over the times. Not because TXDOT is not capable, but because a citizens traffic board needed to be the ones to handle this issue. He thinks they could have done more than just a paper check validation.
"I think what you have now, the citizens of Lubbock will always question the validity of the light timing system. They'll always wonder if someone is manipulating the yellow lights," said Boren.
We also know the city of Lubbock signed an agreement with TXDOT. In it, the city agrees to provide $81,000 worth of state road maintenance costs, like mowing, paving and litter pick-up. TXDOT required the city to agree to this before red light cameras could be installed at state intersections.
Yellow Light Time Investigation Prompts Change and More Questions
A NewsChannel 11 investigation into yellow traffic light times in Lubbock is already producing results. Last week, we showed you 8 out of 12 intersections where yellow light times fell short of the national safe time. Since that story aired city traffic engineers made changes to one intersection. But now, Cecelia Jones is finding out her investigation is raising more questions down at city hall.