MANATEE -- Manatee County commissioners say they are regularly peppered with questions about the county's red light cameras and related traffic policies, particularly involving yellow lights.
Example: What should you do if you're in the intersection when the light changes?
Example: Does the county plan to change the timing of the yellow light?
Sage Kamiya, deputy director for traffic management for the county Public Works Department, said the yellow-light interval is basically a warning the signal is going to change.
"Red says it's a time to clear when you're in an intersection," Kamiya said. "What people miss (is) you need to have already stopped by the red."
"The red light means you should have stopped already; a longer yellow won't help," he added later.
Ron Schulhofer, director of public works, said, "We have people breaking the law and saying, 'We need more yellow'; when you see a yellow, start applying the brake."
Sgt. Mike Kenyan, who handles traffic enforcement for the Manatee County Sheriff's Office, said as soon as the traffic light turns red: "We stop the video, and see where the car is at the time of the video -- a second can make a difference."
The county meets federal and state standards regarding the length of its yellow light, said Kamiya.
However, the Florida Department of Transportation has changed the rules on how to calculate the length of the yellow light, recommending the addition of four-tenths of a second, he said.
But since Manatee County traffic
engineers just did major retiming of the whole county system, which includes about 200 signals, they have asked FDOT how it wants them to accomplish such a change.
"They wrote us back and said, 'Let's think about how we implement these,'" Kamiya reported.
The high-tech cameras, which work in conjunction with the traffic signal, snap images of violators speeding through intersections when the light has already turned red.
Manatee County and the city of Bradenton operate red light camera systems.
A citation for a red light camera violation costs $158. Bradenton's system dates to 2009, while the county system was installed in 2012.
Sara Kennedy, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7031. Follow her on Twitter @sarawrites.