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Red light camera hater proposes yellow light line on road instead

Do you hate red light cameras? So does a Seattle-area tech geek and commuter who says he has a better idea: a yellow light line on the road instead.

Blogger and data guru Tim Ellis spends a lot of time in traffic driving and riding the bus, and has seen plenty of problems caused by cameras.

“So people mash on the brakes even if they had room to make it to avoid the expensive ticket, and the people behind it thought they had room to make it to so it can be a mess,” he says.

Ellis says he thought long and hard about how to make intersections safer – if safety is really the intent of cities using the cameras as often touted.

His solution? Just paint a yellow line in the road.

Under his proposal, cities would use the speed limit and length of time a traffic light stays yellow to determine distance needed to clear an intersection. A yellow line would then be painted on the road at the make-or-break point.

“It’s just a simple matter of, am I across the line or not?” says Ellis. “It tells you if you’re right at the line, you’re going to make it into the intersection before it turns red. If you’re way behind the line, it’s a pretty obvious indicator you’re not going to make it.”

Ellis admits the yellow line wouldn’t actually stop people from speeding up to beat the light, or keep cautious drivers from stopping too soon. But he argues it could be an inexpensive, yet impactful, improvement.

“It’s not going to solve everyone’s problems everywhere but I think it’s a fairly simple change that would improve safety,” says Ellis. “Nothing’s going to force people to drive safely, but the hope is if you give people enough information maybe you can kind of hack your way into more safe habits.”

Canada employs a similar idea, albeit more high tech and expensive. Signs approaching intersections flash a warning to drivers that the light is changing, warning them to stop rather than try to make it through the intersection.

But Ellis says a can of paint is a lot more cost effective – and worth at least a shot.

“I think it would be great if some of the local cities just tried it out. it would be a fairly cheap thing for a few cities to pilot in a few intersections.”

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