New Jersey bill would extend yellow light times

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | Thursday, January 15, 2015

An effort underway at the New Jersey statehouse is intended to serve as an alternative to ticket cameras to improve safety while traveling through intersections.

Democratic Assemblymen Tim Eustace and Joseph Lagana, both representing Bergen and Passaic counties, introduced a bill that would set a standard duration of yellow times at intersections posted with traffic lights.

Municipalities now are prohibited from altering the length of yellow, or amber, light times. Instead, the state uses a national formula that extends yellow times 1 second for every 10-mph increase in the posted speed limit.

The bill sponsors say that A4059 would establish standard yellow-light duration times for New Jersey and ensure that the speed of the roadway is also taken into consideration.

“Traffic safety should not only be about catching drivers who run red lights,” Eustace said in a news release. “It must also include making necessary changes to ensure drivers are given the appropriate amount of time to adjust their speed.”

The bill includes provisions that would require yellow time to have a minimum duration of 4 seconds if at least 85 percent of traffic approaching the signal is traveling at a speed up to 30 mph.

An additional half-second would be added to the minimum duration to compensate for every 5 mph increase in the actual speed up to 7 seconds for traffic traveling at a speed in excess of 55 mph.

“The length of amber traffic lights should provide ample time for a driver to react responsibly and appropriately,” Lagana stated.

Jim Walker, a consultant for the National Motorists Association, has said that research shows that lengthening yellow times reduces red-light running incidents 60 to 90 percent.

He said it will almost always reduce violation rates far more than automated enforcement cameras.

Concerns about electronic ticketing schemes led New Jersey lawmakers to end a five-year pilot program in December. The program saw communities throughout the state employ nearly 80 red-light cameras.

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