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5/15/2010
California, UK: Bad Signs And Short Yellows Create Photo Ticket Traps
Short yellows found in Los Angeles, California red light camera intersections. Bad signs trap London, England drivers. Faulty Australian camera stopped.

Wilton Road
In one month, a traffic camera in London, England generated 7000 fines worth £120 (US $175) each on a busy road next to Victoria station. Signs mark that Wilton Road is closed -- except to bus and taxi use --, but because drivers approach the location on a curve, they have little time to decide whether to take the road to the left or to the right. The signs do not have arrows that would clarify which is the correct path to take, and closed circuit television cameras flash each mistaken choice. The confusion creates £840,000 (US $1.2 million) a month in revenue.

"All over London motorists are falling victim to confusing and even silly restrictions which are enforced using CCTV," the motorist rights group Penalty Charge Notice explained on its website.

The group also suggested that the fines do not hold up in court because the photograph on the ticket does not show the restriction sign and therefore does not contain all of the elements needed to establish the alleged offense.

In Los Angeles, California, yellow lights at intersections met the absolute bare minimum yellow timing for straight through movements in a test of sixteen locations by the University of California's Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. On the other hand, nine locations were found to have left turn movements with illegally short, sub-three second yellow times. In some cases, the yellow lasted just 2.7 seconds. Federal regulations mandate a minimum of three seconds. Several intersections without cameras also had similar timing errors. The city pocketed $1.5 million in net profit from the cameras in 2008 with the vast majority of tickets going to motorists who turned or made split-second errors in judging the length of the yellow light.

In Frankston, Australia, a brand new red light camera went haywire at the intersection of Nepean Highway and Davey Street. Local officials insisted that no tickets issued by the malfunctioning camera would be prosecuted, the Frankston Leader reported.



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