Local News

Drivers sue over timing of yellow lights in Cary

Posted December 15, 2010

— Four people ticketed for running red lights in Cary have filed a lawsuit claiming that the time set for yellow lights in the town is too short.

The plaintiffs want a judge to rule their case is a class action, allowing other drivers who have been ticketed to join the suit, which was filed Nov. 30 in Wake County Superior Court. They are seeking a court order overturning Cary's red-light camera ordinance and a refund of all fines the plaintiffs paid on tickets for running red lights.

Brian Ceccarelli, one of the plaintiffs, said in May that the timing of the caution light is supposed to be based on the speed limit, the size of the intersection and a safe stopping distance.

State Department of Transportation equations show the yellow light at Cary Towne Boulevard and Convention Drive should last 4.5 seconds, but Ceccarelli estimated it lasted only 4 seconds when he was ticketed there last year.

Cary traffic engineers and a physics professor at North Carolina State University have disputed Ceccarelli's calculations. All yellow lights are timed to fit DOT safe-stopping standards, Cary officials have said.

Town spokeswoman Susan Moran said Wednesday that Cary's 17 red-light cameras are designed to prevent accidents by keeping traffic flowing and not allowing intersections to be blocked.

"Unlike some communities, the Town of Cary does not financially profit from the (red-light camera) program," Moran said in a statement. "Ours is and has always been about safety, not making money."

Fines from red-light tickets go to the Wake County Public School System.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • JustOneGodLessThanU Dec 17, 2010

    “Yellow means slow down NOT speed up! .5 secs would not have made that much difference.” -- leannfan1

    Either you didn’t read my previous post here or you don’t understand it. Let me simplify it:

    At 35MPH, a car travels 25.7 feet in 1/2 second...which is also width of two lanes of roadway or nearly an entire intersection.

    At 25 MPH, a car travels 18.3 feet in 1/2 second...more than a normal car length or nearly half of an intersection.

    Imagine if the yellow light timing was reduced from the normal 4.5 seconds to 3 seconds. Do you think that might affect the number of people running a red light?

  • donaldson Dec 16, 2010

    Let me also add, NICE ASTRO TURF SCAMERA SIDE!

    Look at one scamera vendor ATS does on Astro Turf:



  • donaldson Dec 16, 2010

    LONGER AMBERS, as a friend of mine has said, are KYRPTONITE TO RLC vendors!

    It has been proven time and again that longer ambers make RLC UNPROFITABLE! (unless the RLC vendors also engage there in citing for non dangerous right turns on red or stopping just over the stop line).

    See more here: http://www.motorists.org/red-light-cameras/yellow-lights

    Fight the scam!

    Ban the CAMS!


    and www.bancams.com

  • dwr1964 Dec 16, 2010

    Still, a yellow light means, proceed with caution....IBleedRedandWhite

    How did you pass your driving test? A "FLASHING" yellow light means procede with caution, but yellow light in a "STOP AND GO" intersection means prepare to stop.

  • oleguy Dec 15, 2010

    If you dont like Carys lights,, DUH,,, Stay out of CARY,

    Life can be simple folks,,,,

  • 2headstrong Dec 15, 2010

    "I think the problem of running red lights is primarily due to drivers misunderstanding the purpose of a yellow light. This purpose is to notify the driver that the signal is changing so that s/he can perform a mental calculation of whether s/he can, given current speed, vehicle weight/condition/equipment, and distance to the intersection, stop safely before reaching the intersection."

    This is fine - I don't think anyone disputes that. The interesting part is that everyone assumes that you always come to the conclusion that you CAN safely stop. The distance you are from the light when it turns yellow plays a huge factor in the calculation of whether or not you can stop. Sometimes it truly IS safer to keep going than it is to slam on the brakes, and then people tend to speed up so they don't linger in the intersection - nobody wants to get in the way of folks whose light just turned green!

    From some of the comments, some folks have only read about driving, not actually done it.

  • oleguy Dec 15, 2010

    Cry babies, and winners,,, Get a grip folks,,, .5 sec ...get up 5.0 min earlier to start your day, People are hungry, out of work,, and one lady is upset about 27,000 dollars of drapes and how her house looks at Christmas,,,

  • tired2 Dec 15, 2010

    My goodness...amazing how creative people are when they justify breaking the law. If you are driving a safe speed for the conditions (and vehicle), paying attention and you are not speeding, when a light turns yellow, you do have time to either stop or if you are on top of the light, safely to go through WITHOUT tripping the camera and the light going red. Anything else is simply driving unsafely. BTW, this has nothing to do with Cary.

  • CrewMax Dec 15, 2010

    Now the physics professors are on the take. What's next? Repeal the "law" of gravity?

  • GWALLY Dec 15, 2010

    ..."I have gotten 3 tickets from that Cary Town Blvd light...."

    A simple solution for a simple problem.......stay the heck out of Cary!!!!!! Once business goes away, tax revenue falls...things will change!!!!! Politicians run on money...once the cash stops they cease to be relevant...so start a campaign to spend your money elsewhere!!!!