Arizona bill would extend yellow times

| 11/29/2005

If an Arizona state lawmaker gets his way, drivers in the state would get more warning time at intersections.

Sen. Dean Martin, R-Phoenix, has proposed legislation that would give drivers at least four seconds to get into the intersection before the light turns red.

Martin said the lack of state standards creates uncertainty for drivers approaching a traffic light as to whether they can cross legally. The result, he said, is not only confusion but also a lot of red lights run – and collisions.

Recent findings appear to support Martin’s idea.

In 2004, the Texas Transportation Institute released a study that concluded increasing the yellow warning time by one second could reduce crashes by 40 percent, the East Valley Tribune reported. Similarly, red light running violations dropped 96 percent at a Virginia intersection that lengthened yellow time by 1.5 seconds.

City traffic engineers, however, say decisions on whether to change yellow times are best left to those trained to figure out what is appropriate at each intersection, as current Arizona law mandates. Some also say the proposal could create more traffic problems.

Martin said his legislation would allow for exceptions to the four-second rule – but only for a “good cause” and with a city council vote.

SB1001 will be discussed during the legislative session that begins in January.