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This has probably happened to many New York residents over the years: you're stopped at a red light. You can see the next light down the road, and it turns green shortly before your light triggers as well. You accelerate down the road, expecting to catch the next light -- when, suddenly, the light goes yellow, forcing you to swiftly brake before it turns red. You stop in time, but you're baffled at how quickly the light changed.

Now, is there anything illegal going on in that scenario? Probably not, however according to a nearby politician in New Jersey, there could be. His assertion is that some street lights are improperly timed, with the possible intent of capturing people on bogus red light violations.

The politician looked at a number of intersections in his area and clocked the transition from a red light to a yellow light. What he found is that some lights change from red to yellow faster than they should be programmed too, switching over anywhere from one-tenth to one-quarter of a second early. That amount of time may seem insignificant; but according to the politician, nearly 30 percent of red light violation tickets are handed out because someone passed through during this one-tenth-to-one-quarter-second time frame.

While the prospect of getting an illegal ticket is certainly a major point of contention in this story (and if you do receive a red light ticket, you should consult an attorney before paying the fine), the public safety concerns are pretty significant too. If lights are jumping early, it means they are forcing drivers to make tough decisions in traffic. Quick lights could cause more accidents.

Source: Associated Press, "Yellow lights don't last long enough, New Jersey lawmaker says," David Porter, Aug. 19, 2013