BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                                                                  AB 612
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          Date of Hearing:   April 29, 2013

                        ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON TRANSPORTATION
                               Bonnie Lowenthal, Chair
                   AB 612 (Nazarian) - As Amended:  March 19, 2013
           
          SUBJECT  :  Automated enforcement systems

           SUMMARY  :  Requires that yellow light signal change intervals be  
          increased by one second at intersections with automated traffic  
          enforcement systems (red light cameras).  Specifically,  this  
          bill  : 

          1)Requires yellow light signal change intervals at intersections  
            with red light cameras be set at one second over the change  
            interval established using the California Manual of Uniform  
            Traffic Control Devices (CA MUTCD) or its successor document.   


          2)Requires courts to dismiss citations issued at red light  
            camera intersections where yellow light signal times have not  
            been lengthened.  

           EXISTING LAW :

          1)Specifies that only a governmental agency, in cooperation with  
            a law enforcement agency, may operate a red light camera if  
            specified requirements are met.  

          2)Requires that, at intersections where red light cameras are in  
            operation, the minimum yellow light change interval be  
            established in accordance with procedures set forth in the CA  
            MUTCD.  

          3)Requires the Department of Transportation (Caltrans) to revise  
            the CA MUTCD, as it read on January 12, 2012, to authorize  
            Caltrans or a local authority to round speed limits down to  
            the nearest five mile per hour (mph) increment of the  
            prevailing traffic speed and prohibits Caltrans or a local  
            authority from further reducing the speed limit for any reason  
            if the option to round the speed limit down is exercised.  

           FISCAL EFFECT  :  Unknown.










                                                                  AB 612
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           COMMENTS  :  This bill which would require yellow light signal  
          times at red light camera-controlled intersections to be  
          lengthened by one second over that calculated using the CA  
          MUTCD, or its successor document.  Additionally, the bill  
          requires that courts dismiss citations issued at red light  
          camera intersections if yellow light signal times are not  
          increased, as required.  

          SB 1802 (Rosenthal) Chapter 1216, Statutes of 1994, authorized  
          the use of red light cameras to record violations occurring at  
          rail crossing signals and gates.  Later, SB 833 (Kopp), Chapter  
          922, Statutes of 1995, authorized a three-year demonstration  
          period to test the use and effectiveness of such cameras in  
          reducing the incidence of drivers running red lights at roadway  
          intersections.  After reviewing the effectiveness of the pilot  
          program, the Legislature enacted SB 1136 (Kopp) Chapter 54,  
          Statutes of 1998, which authorized the use of automated  
          enforcement systems at intersections indefinitely.  


          With the advent of red light cameras, failure to stop before the  
          limit line or cross through the intersection before the light  
          turned red began resulting in costly citations for violators.   
          Persons issued these citations began to question whether or not  
          yellow light signal times were being appropriately set to allow  
          motorists adequate time to stop or completely pass through the  
          intersection before the onset of the red light.  In response to  
          these concerns, SB 667 (Peace), Chapter 491, Statutes of 2001,  
          specified that, at intersections where red light cameras are in  
          operation, the minimum yellow light signal change interval must  
          be set in accordance with the CA MUTCD.  


          The exclusive function of the yellow light signal is to warn  
          traffic of an impending change in the right-of-way assignment.   
          The primary objective of the yellow light interval is to improve  
          the safety of the signalized intersection by providing a  
          temporal separation between conflicting demands for use of the  
          intersection space.  Studies have consistently shown that  
          increasing the yellow light interval improves safety.  


          Despite the fact that the CA MUTCD directs a formulaic approach  
          to establishing yellow light signal intervals, proponents of  
          this bill remain concerned that yellow light signal intervals  








                                                                  AB 612
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          are still not long enough to allow motorists to either stop or  
          pass through the intersection before the red light illuminates.   
          Part of the concern is that cities are opting to use the lowest  
          allowable yellow light intervals which, proponents believe,  
          increases red light violations and results in increased  
          intersection accidents.  



          The sponsor (Safer Streets LA) has presented many studies  
          showing that adding one second to yellow light signal times  
          provides motorists with adequate time to either stop before  
          reaching the intersection or allows them to pass completely  
          through the intersection before the light turns red which  
          drastically reduces red light running and, more importantly,  
          reduces associated intersection accidents.  Specifically, the  
          sponsor notes that a study performed by the Texas Transportation  
          Institute (TTI) showed that when yellow light interval durations  
          were extended by one second, there was a 40% reduction in  
          intersection accidents.  The sponsor has also cited a number of  
          additional studies showing a significant drop in intersection  
          accidents when yellow light signal times are increased by  
          approximately one second and notes that other states, namely  
          Ohio, Georgia, and New Jersey, have enacted laws mandating  
          longer yellow light signal intervals which have resulted in a  
          significant reduction in red light violations and associated  
          intersection accidents.  



           Previous legislation :  AB 2128 (Cook) of 2012, would have  
          lengthened the yellow light signal times and required  
          "rolling-right-on-red" traffic light violations to be subject to  
          a base fine of $35.  That bill died in the Assembly  
          Appropriations Committee.  

          SB 667 (Peace) Chapter 491, Statutes of 2002, required yellow  
          light change intervals at intersections at which there is an  
          automated enforcement system.  The change intervals would be  
          established in accordance with the Traffic Manual of the  
          Department of Transportation.  

          SB 1136 (Kopp) Chapter 54, Statutes of 1998, repealed the  
          January 1, 1999, sunset date, and extended indefinitely  
          provisions that allow the use of automated traffic enforcement  








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          systems at official traffic control signals.  

          SB 833 (Kopp) Chapter 922, Statutes of 1995, authorized a  
          three-year demonstration period to test the use and  
          effectiveness of automated traffic enforcement systems in  
          reducing the incidence of drivers running red lights at roadway  
          intersections.  

           REGISTERED SUPPORT / OPPOSITION  :   

           Support 
           
          Safer Streets L.A. (sponsor)
          Automobile Club of Southern California
          California Association of Highway Patrolmen
          California Conference Board of the Amalgamated Transit Union
          California Conference of Machinists
          California Construction Trucking Association 
          California Teamsters Public Affairs Council

           Opposition 
          
          None on file
           

          Analysis Prepared by  :   Victoria Alvarez / TRANS. / (916) 319-  
          2093