, Salem, MA


June 24, 2014

Letter: Short yellow costs motorist

To the editor:

About two months ago, I had the misfortune of being pulled over by a Beverly policeman. When he came up to my window, I asked him why I was stopped. He said that I went through a red light at the intersection of Dodge Street, Route 1A and Tozer Road in North Beverly. I countered that the light was yellow when I entered the intersection. Ten minutes later, he hands me a $100 ticket. Wow! I was internally furious.

I spent $25 to appeal the ticket, and six weeks later, I had my time in front of a court clerk magistrate. About 20 people were called in before me to plead their cases, and almost everyone left with a disturbed, sad look on their face.

It was my turn, and I staunchly held that the light was yellow, and I never saw a red light. The ticketing officer was there, and he didn’t budge. He mentioned that he was parked on Salem Road, and he could see the light turn red. The clerk said I could appeal to a higher court for another $50 and then pronounced me guilty! I left sad, disturbed and internally furious.

What’s the purpose of a yellow light, especially at this intersection? So, on the way home I went back to that intersection and parked my car where the policeman said he could monitor the southbound traffic. I timed the yellow light, and to my amazement, it was between two and three seconds. My detective work at other similar lights showed that the time interval is about the same! Now, if you’re traveling north on Dodge Street, the entrance to the intersection is fair to the motorist because the entrance is at the corner to Tozer Road. However, when going south as I was, the entrance to the intersection is set way back from the corner of Salem Road. I entered the intersection as the light turned yellow, slowing down to allow a car to turn. So, by the time I was in the middle of the intersection my 21/2 seconds were up, and the light probably turned red, which from the policeman’s angle of view he saw. Was I supposed to stop in the middle of the intersection? No! What a frustrating experience, and I wonder how many other motorists have had the same result.

Oh well. Thanks to The Salem News for allowing me to vent my internal fury via the pen. Oh, by the way, I paid the $100 so my license wouldn’t be suspended.

Jim Prato


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