Longer Yellow Lights vs Red Light Cameras

Longer Yellow Lights vs Red Light Cameras

Red-light cameras in Arnold, Missouri just took a hit that will cost hundreds of thousands of dollars a year at one light alone. Fox 2 first reported Wednesday about a new MoDOT program to re-time of its Missouri lights.

MoDO is re-timing traffic lights everywhere, to give drivers more time to stop. The results so far, are incredible at the intersection of 141 and Astra Way. We compared a month of red-light running before the new signal timing to a month after the change in the yellow light.

Last May, the City of Arnold cited 709 people for running a red light on camera at the 141 light. This May? Arnold cited only 17 drivers at the same light.

Now, consider the money side of this. Last May's citations add up to $67,000 in one month. This past May, citations, if paid, would only bring in $1,600.

That's a potential loss of more than 3/4 of a million dollars every year.

That loss is split between three parties who divide the money from each $95 violation ticket. More than half of that pie (57%) would go to the city, 10% percent to the State of Missouri and 1/3rd (33%) to the private red light camera contractor American Traffic Solutions (ATS).

Arnold Mayor Ron Counts said their share of the money goes into the general fund, which pays for things like streets. But he says this newly discovered potential loss -- is a price worth paying.

Mayor Counts said, "The truth is, it's not about money, it can't be. We've got to deal with the safety issue and to me when you can drop this down to 20 people running stoplights, I think that's what we really need to be looking at. We'll adjust the budget. We have to." He added, "It's going to affect your budget no matter how you look at it

He said Arnold's been discussing putting red-light revenue strictly into safety measures anyway. He can't think of anything better than stopping red-light runners.

Counts said, "What's a person's life worth? I don't think you can consider that."

The private red light camera contractor, ATS, said in an e-mail statement, "We're pleased the number of violations in Arnold continues to fall. An effective road safety program must always integrate engineering, education and enforcement." However, ATS also warns ".. studies have shown that if the amber light is too long, drivers will disregard it and consider it part of the green light cycle."

MoDOT adds -- the drastic drop in red-light runners may not last. Engineers warn that drivers could start pushing the new timing cycles. They also say that longer yellows slow down traffic.