Have you ever been caught off-guard by the length of a yellow light? Under new legislation from members of the New Jersey Assembly, the entire state would have to follow strict guidelines when setting the number of seconds between yellow and red.

Yellow light
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The bill would base yellow light times on the speed of approaching traffic at each intersection. For example, in areas where at least 85 percent of the vehicles are traveling at a speed of less than 30 miles per hour, lights must remain yellow for a minimum of four seconds. The minimum hikes to seven seconds where most vehicular traffic is traveling at a rate beyond 55 mph, and the light times vary in between.

Beyond the rule that went along with New Jersey's five-year pilot program of red light cameras, yellow light times have never been legislated in the state. The state has followed a nationally-accepted formula that extends yellow lights by one second for every 10 mph of the posted speed limit.

"We want to prevent more accidents at intersections and ensure that drivers have ample enough time to stop for a red light," said Assemblyman Tim Eustace (D-Paramus), a sponsor of the measure.

He said the bill was prompted by calls from drivers who cited a problem with the timing of lights.

"Setting a specific duration for amber lights based on speed of road is a part of efficient regulation of traffic intersections," said Assemblyman Joseph Lagana (D-Paramus) in a press release.

The red light camera program was taken offline temporarily in 2012 because of questions regarding the accuracy of yellow light times at most of the affected intersections. The cameras' test period expired in December 2014.

The bill received support from the other side of the aisle, specifically Assemblyman Declan O'Scanlon (R-Red Bank), as long it's not meant to open the door for the reintroduction of red light cameras in New Jersey.

"If you set yellow light times based on this bill, it will completely eliminate any argument, including profit, for red light cameras," he said. "Because you'll have so few violations, you won't even be able to pay for the red light camera equipment."

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