Arizona panel rejects bill to extend yellow light times

| 3/10/2006

A bill that would have given drivers in Arizona more warning time at intersections is dead.

The Senate Transportation Committee rejected a bid to give drivers at least four seconds to get into the intersection before the light turns red.

The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Dean Martin, R-Phoenix, said the lack of state standards creates uncertainty for drivers approaching traffic lights 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 Phoenix-area 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 bill could have created more traffic problems.

Martin said his legislation, SB1001, called for exceptions to the four-second rule – but only for a “good cause” and with a city council vote.