The people's voice of reason


WACV Talk Radio, I asked Montgomery Mayor Todd Strange what he was going to do about removing the obnoxious red light cameras from the city. His answer was very blunt, “Nothing.” In fact, he even announced that he had plans to install some more.

Why? Does Mayor Strange understand that they do essentially nothing to improve safety? Apparently not. But he obviously knows that they generate a great deal of revenue by legalized piracy. This is especially true when yellow lights are timed so short, it is impossible to either stop safely or make it through an intersection. In many cases, after receiving several unwarranted tickets, many motorists become paranoid and slam on the brakes at yellow lights. The result is an increase in accidents, more injuries, more property damage, more roads closed while accidents are cleared, and higher insurance rates—not to mention a great deal of ill will toward the local public officials.

Numerous studies have proven that the most effective way to enhance safety is to increase the length of the yellow signal to a point where people don’t have to panic when making the split-second decision to stop or go when a green light suddenly changes. Yellow lights can be as short as three seconds—ok only on narrow two lane roads. Highways should have at least four seconds, and four-lane highways should have at least five. But even here, making that instant decision can be a crap shoot.

However, there is a scientific solution that was developed several years ago that solves this dilemma. Successful initial experimentation has proved its workability, but most politicians refused to adopt it. It worked great for improving safety and eliminating the guesswork, but it didn’t generate any enforcement revenue.

The solution is very simple, and it costs next to nothing to put into practice. Its name is FinnLine, and it involves little more than timing the lights properly and painting the right kinds of lines onto the streets.

The FinnLine is a solid line between traffic lanes that extends from the intersection back to the maximum distance a motorist can safely proceed when the signal turns yellow. It is designed so that even the heaviest vehicles can stop safely at the speed limit and that they also have time to make it through at 10 mph below the speed limit.

With the FinnLine method, all a motorist must do is note whether his front wheels have passed the end of the FinnLine when the light turns yellow. If so, he is in the “go zone” and he can instantly know that it is safe to proceed through the signal without having to rush it. If his front wheels have not reached the end of the FinnLine, he knows that he is in the “stop zone” and can easily stop safely.

To make a FinnLine more visible, I suggest that a highly visible large red or yellow spot be painted on the end of each one. A reflector could also be added for visibility at night.


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