State tells Apopka to shave time off yellow lights

Story from WFTV Channel 9

9 Investigates uncovered a move by the state to shorten the time that central Florida drivers have to beat red lights.

The city of Apopka tried to give drivers a break by extending yellow light times, but reporter Racquel Asa found out the state ordered Apopka to shave time.

Apopka added an extra second to its yellow lights in March 2014 so drivers had more time to take it through. At some intersections, drivers had nearly six seconds of a yellow light before it turned red.

But that time changed to 4.8 seconds after the Florida Department of Transportation told the city it needed to shorten the yellow lights to state minimums.

FDOT told the city that it has jurisdiction over some of the intersections and the city had not done any engineering studies justifying that the extra second was for safety.

When the yellow lights were shortened to the state minimums, Channel 9 found out that violations increased nearly 51 percent.

“Who stands to lose the most by increasing these yellow light times? The state of Florida,” retired Florida Highway Patrol trooper Paul Henry said.

State records show there was a significant drop in revenue coming in from Apopka, totailing $345,000, when the city gave drivers more time.

“It’s kind of like organized crime. You have an entity that really is not doing anything, but they are getting the first cut of the profit on it,” said Henry.

FDOT told Eyewitness News that yellow light calculations are not based on revenue, but rather current national standards and consistency.

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