Friday Tips: Avoiding red light camera tickets the right way and calculating the minimum yellow light interval

High school students cross Jefferson Blvd. At Farmdale.
The effectiveness of automated photo enforcement at Southland intersections is certainly questionable and subject to debate. One certain fact is that the capability of automated enforcement equipment is so limited that such limitations could be easily exploited. With that, there are numerous websites giving people tips of avoiding red light camera tickets.

Unfortunately, many of these sites have ill-advised tips which go above the law. For instance, masking your identity or installing covers which blurs the plate number from certain angles certainly is bad advice. While it's fine to question the policy of automated photo enforcement, going above the law to avoid a ticket is abuse. If you have an issue with automated red light cameras, put it up for robust debate and sell your argument to the public.

Here's our tips to avoid getting a red light ticket from Big Brother: 
  • Don't run the red light.
  • On red, come to a full and complete stop at the limit line or before entering the crosswalk. Don't do a California Stop when turning right against a red light. Obey the "NO TURN ON RED" regulatory signs.
  • If you see a yellow signal, that means the red light is about to appear. Quoting from the California Driver Handbook, whenever you see the light turning yellow, stop if you can do so safely. Otherwise, cross the intersection carefully.

How to calculate the minimum yellow light interval for California traffic signals:

If you suspect that the yellow light interval at an intersection is too short, report it. The interval length of the yellow light is state regulated and determined by the posted speed limit. Right and left turn yellow lights are set at a 3 second minimum.

T = t + V/2d

T = The minimum yellow light change interval
V = Posted speed limit in feet-per-second
d = Deceleration Rate of 10ft per second
t = Reaction time (1 second)

Here's how to calculate the state-regulated minimum interval of the yellow light for a 45 MPH roadway. First, convert the speed limit into feet per second. Mutiply 45 by 5280 to convert it into feet, and then divide that by 3600 to convert the per-hours into per-seconds. You should have a speed of 66 feet per second. Now, divide that number by 20 (a deceleration rate of 10 feet per second mutiplied by 2). Add that to a reaction time of 1 second.

T = t + V/2d
T = 1 + ((45*5280)/3600) / (2 * 10)
T = 1 + 66 / (2 * 10)
T = 1 + 66 / 20
T = 1 + 3.3
T = 4.3

The minimum yellow light interval for a 45 MPH road is 4.3 seconds.