, Land Line state legislative editor | Monday, August 27, 2012
New rules that take effect Tuesday, Aug. 28, in Missouri address the use of red-light cameras and changes to the state’s “move over” rule.
The minimum yellow light change intervals for traffic signals at intersections outfitted with cameras is getting a makeover.
The new rule mandates that yellow standards throughout the state be set in accordance with nationally recognized engineering standards. Federal guidelines specify times somewhere between three and six seconds – depending on such factors as the grade of the road and the speed limit.
Supporters say the change is supposed to straighten out cities like Arnold, MO.
The community, which is located south of St. Louis, was forced by the Missouri Department of Transportation to adopt the federal guidelines after installing red-light cameras and then using its own shortened yellow-light formula.
The revenue enhancer has also taken a hit in St. Louis. A circuit court judge ruled in May against the city’s use of the cameras, finding it violates a ticketed driver’s right to due process.
Advocates say the new rule is all about improving safety at intersections across the state.
They cite a Texas Department of Transportation study that showed a one-second reduction in time for yellow lights resulted in a 110 percent increase in violations written. However, by simply lengthening that timeframe by one second reduced red-light violations by 53 percent.
Sen. Jim Lembke, R-Lemay, noted that by using the formula in the new law states have seen collisions drop by 43 percent.
“Missouri will show other states that a slight change in the runtime for yellow lights is what’s needed to reduce accidents,” Lembke said in a recent statement.
One more rule change in effect this week adds another type of vehicle to be protected in the state’s “move over” law.
Missouri’s law requires vehicles approaching a stopped emergency vehicle with flashing lights to move into a lane away from the vehicle. If unable to change lanes, the driver is required to slow down.
Vehicles protected in the rule include fire and police personnel, as well as ambulances and tow trucks.
To address concerns about state DOT vehicles, the change includes state transportation emergency response vehicles and motorist assist vehicles parked with amber and white lights flashing.
Since 2000, four MoDOT employees have been killed on the job.
The new law also allows affected DOT vehicles to display red lights and use a siren when responding to an emergency.
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