Extending the amber traffic light by a second is all that is needed to cut intersection accidents and red-light violations, according to a pair of self-appointed Winnipeg traffic crusaders who recently launched the Just One Second campaign. Since 44-year-old Larry Stefanuik took early retirement from his job as a traffic cop, he and businessman Todd Dube have been on a mission to make local intersections safer places where people get fewer tickets.
Their “one second” logic was borrowed from the U.S., where the state of Georgia enacted a law this year that added extra time to yellow lights following 2006 reports that showed that accidents at photo-controlled stops were actually on the rise. The campaign was so successful that 12 cities in Georgia dismantled some or all of their photo-enforcement cameras. And the issue became the subject of a U.S. congressional hearing in June, during which a Georgia study documenting increases in rear-end collisions after the introduction of red-light cameras was cited.
Though the Winnipeg Sun reported that city council has discussed a possible pilot project for a longer amber, Stefanuik says the city has “completely ignored” them. Meanwhile, a city spokeswoman told the Winnipeg Free Press that the timing of yellow lights is “adequate for the speeds and intersection geometries in the city.” Still, the duo plans to spread their message next month on billboards, in TV commercials and in newspapers. As Dube, 46, says, “Yellow lights aren’t there for the purpose of testing your brakes; they are there to orchestrate your safe clearance through the intersection, but this city is putting them to work like slot machines.” Stefanuik, sounding like the modern-day Robin Hood of traffic violations, adds: “[Cameras at intersections] are just a scheme by rich camera companies who are taking the grocery money right out of people’s pockets.”