General discussion

  • Creator
  • #2256949

    Traffic light


    by problemsolversolutionseeker ·

    I noticed the heavy volume on a recent post on bad drivers.

    I spend almost 2 hours a day in traffic. I should carry a clicker sometime and count all of the traffic lights I go through, but it is upwards of 50 or more one way.

    In this day of IT, why are traffic lights so horrible? There is one light that I have to go around since it will not allow me to go straight. Another light, that does left turn arrow first and only – yet no one ever turns that way. I see left turn lights that stay green way too long as well. I will not mention the light that catches me every morning that is there just for a department store that starts with a W*. Another light just seems to be there for the h of it. I could go on and on.

    I estimate that 20-30 minutes a day are lost because lights are not operating properly.

    Does any one else feel this way?

    Is it safe to say that fixing these lights would greatly improve traffic and reduce pollution?

All Comments

  • Author
    • #3227450

      Infrastructure Management

      by tig2 ·

      In reply to Traffic light

      I agree with you- it seems the same to me as well.

      I don’t have a problem with Omni-Trans, the system that allows Police, Fire, and Ambulance to control the lights in a particular direction. I think that they help. But I agree that some of the traffic directionals need to be re-examined based on the use of the roadway.

      Having lived in a number of states, the one thing that they all have in common is insufficient infrastructure to support the population. All of which makes me wonder about the wisdom of implementing “just enough” to meet the need. Just enough is never enough as population centres change.

      What gets me is that we accept that our streets and highways work like this but would not be so accepting if our business systems worked like this.

      Makes you wonder about the agendas of city planners…

      • #3227394

        call them…

        by scifiman ·

        In reply to Infrastructure Management

        Speaking of city planners, you can always call them to complain about a particular intersection. They will do a traffic study to determine if any changes need to be done. I did that once long ago in Austin.

        But in general the systems are quite limited and set up (in a flow with other lights nearby) for peak times of the day such as rush hour. Most intersection lanes have the sensors in the roadbed. I don’t know why they can’t improve flow and have hourly configurations for lights. I have a complex intersection near the house that includes 2 rail crossings. When a train comes the lights are aware and change their normal cycle to a pretty workable solution (some fast people trains, some slow freight). So I know they can do it. Maybe it’s just cost. Plus most people are just sheep and never complain, and gov’t won’t do anything until you poke them with a sharp stick.

        • #3204039

          Suburbs no longer what they used to be

          by why me worry? ·

          In reply to call them…

          I live in the suburbs of NYC called Westchester County, north of the Bronx and south of the Putnam County line. Anyhow, the suburbs we all see pictured in the movies with little traffic and pristine silence is no longer the case. The amount of traffic has increased exponentially, but the roads and traffic lights are still programmed for 1950s’ traffic volume. Just recently, after a long running complaint from area residents, the town expanded the left turn lane of a major intersection because soutbound cars waiting to make a left turn on Rt 100 (Central Ave) onto my street were waiting on the diagonal yellow lines (commonly used by highway patrol to clock speeders) in the middle of the two way street because of the volume of traffic ahead of them. It would take about 5 or more minutes to make a left turn because the separate left turn light also had a very short duration and you had to wait again until the traffic ahead of you makes their turn. It’s simply nuts to think that traffic engineers are so out of touch with modern traffic paterns and the need to revamp the entire traffic light system. Granted, the yellow lights stay on longer in the suburbs, giving you more time to cross the intersection without running through a red, but that’s not the case within NYC. The yellow lights come on for about 3 seconds and before you know it, the light turns red, causing many drivers to run a red light. The NYC police take advantage of this stupidity by pulling over drivers and ticketing them for running red lights, or they set up them red light photo cameras to snap a shot of your license plate and mail you the ticket. When the light turns yellow, you are practically forced to make a split second decision to either go through the light before it turns red, or to slam on your brakes, risking the possibility of getting rear ended. I can’t tell you how many times I see people slamming on brakes at a yellow light, only to get an SUV plowing into their back seat. This entire issue is stupidity in itself and I’m surprised that the city doesn’t recognize it as a safety harazard to both drivers and pedestrians.

        • #3203955

          Warning light for yellow light

          by jimtheengineer ·

          In reply to Suburbs no longer what they used to be

          One of the most useful signals I have seen is a flashing double yellow light installed about 200 feet BEFORE the intersection. When the intersection light is about to change from green to yellow to red, the flashing yellow light is turned on. I discovered that they are timed such that, if you SEE the light start to flash, there is NO WAY that you can get through the intersection without running the red light (or really speeding). The 200 ft. distance to the intersection allows plenty of time to slow down safely for the soon-to-be-visible red light.

        • #3203931

          I think I’ve seen that in Europe – Germany maybe?

          by absolutely ·

          In reply to Warning light for yellow light

          But nowhere in the United States that I can recall. It would be a lot more useful to have a warning [b]before[/b] the intersection that the light is [b]about[/b] to change, but I don’t expect to ever see it in this country.

        • #3203714

          Light-change warning

          by vulpinemac ·

          In reply to I think I’ve seen that in Europe – Germany maybe?

          Actually, I see this benefit fairly frequently here between Baltimore
          and Philadelphia. However, at least for now it is used almost
          exclusively on blind intersections, where you would never be able
          to safely stop if you were travelling at the speed limit before
          seeing the light. (Of course, how many people are actually doing
          the speed limit or less on the average?)

        • #3141023

          they are becoming more common

          by heml0ck ·

          In reply to I think I’ve seen that in Europe – Germany maybe?

          in canada. I’ve seen them in BC, NS, Que, and of course Ontario.
          They are particularily helpful in locations where the traffic light isn’t visible from a distance, like over the crest of a hill.

        • #3203885

          We have those in South Carolina

          by nicknielsen ·

          In reply to Warning light for yellow light

          They are usually installed in areas where the posted speed limit is 55 mph or higher, and they work exactly as you describe. The spacing here is slightly longer (about a quarter mile) and the lights actually start flashing before the signal changes to yellow. If you see the warning lights begin flashing and are not already moving at least 10 mph faster than the speed limit, you might as well take your foot off the gas and begin slowing down now.

          Unfortunately, the implementation is not consistent from intersection to intersection, even within jurisdictions. In one town, the warning lights at one intersection start flashing when the signal is about to change; at another intersection in the same town, the lights flash continuously.

        • #3140956

          There are many of these in Ohio,

          by tonythetiger ·

          In reply to Warning light for yellow light

          but the distance back is determined by the speed limit on that stretch of highway. With a 60 MPH road, 200 feet is about 2.5 seconds… not nearly enough time. Our district shoots for an 8-10 second warning, and sets the warning sign at the appropriate distance for the posted speed limit. There are a few places where there would be two traffic lights within this distance (the warning for the second light would be before the first traffic light). In those cases, they decided to synchronize both traffic lights to turn red (and green) at the same time.

        • #3140743

          Warning before yellow light

          by viztor ·

          In reply to Warning light for yellow light

          On one stretch I travel regularly, the pedestrian lights change green to red a few seconds before the traffic light changes green to yellow. Great for letting drivers know they can keep rolling without worrying about a yellow, or need to zoom to avoid the yellow.

        • #3203957

          Some of it is cost,

          by tonythetiger ·

          In reply to call them…

          but most of it is simply drivers who think the universe ends at the back bumper of the car in front of them. We had to put lights at several intersections along a rual 4-lane, because people were getting killed! So about 5 lights were put in, at about 125,000 per. Deaths are down, but now people are pissed because they have to stop occasionally. “Why didn’t you put in an interchange?” they ask. Well, most intersections are around [b]towns[/b] with [b]houses[/b] that [b]people[/b] live in. Now I’m sure those pissed off drivers really don’t care, but those people in those houses are taxpayers too, and I’m not real sure the driver understands the number of families that would have to be displaced to build this interchange. nor how much it will cost ($500k to a couple million, depending mostly on the property values of the displaced homes). “Well, they can just take the money they get and move somewhere else!”, the disgruntled driver says. “Yes”, I’d tell them if it were up to me, “They can move into [b][i]your[/i][/b] house.” 🙂

        • #3140996

          Traffic study

          by fvrba ·

          In reply to call them…

          I don’t know if it’s the same all over but in Omaha you can call and ask for a traffic study but you won’t get one. Unless lots of people call often and accidents are happening, they won’t spend the money for a study. It seems for every intersection I know a study gets done on, the time frame from first request to finished study is measured in years.

    • #3228010


      by ericl_w199 ·

      In reply to Traffic light

      i dont want to hear any complaints from people in their car about traffic hardly ever trip any of the traffic lights and so we are forced to wait for another car to come behind us or run the light.

      • #3203424

        Didn’t they teach you?

        by nicknielsen ·

        In reply to please

        Pay attention as you come up to lights and look for the trip wire loop. Don’t ride in the center of the loop; ride straight down the wire on one side or another. Stop completely on the wire, even if you are 15 or more feet back from the light. You’ve got a much better chance triggering the sensors that way.

        And it’s not just bikes. Many left turn lanes in South Carolina have the loop set two or three car lengths back from the stop line. If you are the only car there and pull up to the line, you will never get an arrow. You would be amazed at how many people look at me like I’m nuts when I stop 20 feet behind them in the left turn lane…

        • #3203419

          Now that you mentioned the stop line…

          by ontheropes ·

          In reply to Didn’t they teach you?

          It’s a little depressing to see how many people don’t have a clue about what it is. How many times do you actually see someone stop at the stop line properly?

          When a driver stops completely beyond the stop line and impedes vehicle or pedestrian traffic the driver will often flip someone off or snarl in a heartbeat if the person blocked so much as glances sideways at the driver while trying to get around them.

          It’s that, “Me first. [b]I’m[/b] important. You’re [b]not[/b]”, attitude.


          Edited: yep

          “If I have made myself clear, you must have misunderstood me.” – Alan Greenspan

        • #3203418

          One of the nice things about Germany

          by nicknielsen ·

          In reply to Now that you mentioned the stop line…

          When I was there, if you stopped with the front or your vehicle projecting past the edge of the stop line, you could be ticketed for failing to yield to pedestrians. If your vehicle completely crossed the stop line, you were considered to have run the light by entering the intersection. Lots of Americans learned this the hard way when they got the DM500 ticket in the mail. :0 Gotta love those cameras! 😀

        • #3203409

          That’s a fine fine to remember!

          by ontheropes ·

          In reply to One of the nice things about Germany

          The biggest issue I have with cameras at traffic lights is when they shorten the caution light to generate revenue.

          One study showed that intersections with cameras in one city had caution lights at 2.7 seconds while neighboring intersections without cameras stayed yellow for 4.0 seconds. I’ve heard of that shortened interval happening in other cities too.

          I think that happens because the companies that sell the cameras use the revenue generating aspect as sales material. Those same companies sometimes manage the cameras for a municipality under contract. The money generated from tickets can pay for the cameras and the people who run them and still give the local government a nice little pile of cash to spend on “road improvements”. (yeah right)

        • #3203954

          Advance warning needed

          by jimtheengineer ·

          In reply to That’s a fine fine to remember!

          A friend of mine received a ticket with a photo showing that she was still about 15 inches away from the intersection when the light went from yellow to red. Well, at 30 mph (44 ft/sec or 528 in/sec), that space takes about 28 milliseconds to traverse – kinda hard to measure that by eye. THe double flashing yellow lights I mentioned in a previous post would allow the driver the safely and accurately judge whether to go or stop in plenty of time to stop if needed.

        • #3203696

          That’s why people get that spray for their license plate

          by why me worry? ·

          In reply to Advance warning needed

          Yes it is illegal, but go ahead and try to stop people from doing it for the exact reasons you just stated. The shorter duration yellow lights are usually accompanied by those cameras as a speed trap to generate revenue for the municipality by entraping motorists to run so called “red lights”. My dad has been slapped with these things all the time while driving within the 5 boroughs of NYC. The yellow light comes on for about 2 seconds, making it virtually impossible to not run a red unless you slam on the brakes as soon as it turns yellow.

        • #3140886

          Funny you should mention that (WMW)

          by tonythetiger ·

          In reply to Advance warning needed

        • #3140742

          6th Amendment

          by rfink ·

          In reply to Advance warning needed

          I wonder if someone sued on the basis that the 6th amendment gives you the right to face your accuser. In the case of a camera, who’s your accuser?

          I also wonder where the constitution allows law enforcement to be delegated to machines?

        • #3139735

          6th Amendment Redux

          by nicknielsen ·

          In reply to Advance warning needed

          Your accuser is the law enforcement officer holding the pictures. The Supreme Court considers this a non-issue.

          Your other issue is also a non-issue; driving is a privilege. It may be a necessity for most of us, but it is not a right.

        • #3203398

          “fine fine” link addendum – “Instruments of the devil” :0 :^0

          by ontheropes ·

          In reply to One of the nice things about Germany

        • #3204004


          by nicknielsen ·

          In reply to “fine fine” link addendum – “Instruments of the devil” :0 :^0

          Love the new avatar! :^0

          Part of the success of the intersection cameras in Germany is that the intersections are well-marked and I don’t remember any “short” yellow lights. Most of the time, they were 4 seconds or more in duration

        • #3140972

          And if you don’t pay, will they get Interpol after you?

          by why me worry? ·

          In reply to One of the nice things about Germany

          I doubt they will go so far as to chase after a foreigner for a stupid traffic ticket. They can’t detain you at the airport for such a silly thing either.

        • #3203956


          by tonythetiger ·

          In reply to Didn’t they teach you?

          Fake out the computer system, so that it’s more efficient for YOU, but disrupts the pattern for everyone else! After all, it’s all about you, isn’t it?

          (this is numebr two on the list of things drivers do that irk me. Number one is running the yellow, only to have to stop in the middle of the intersection, blocking cross traffic (which should draw a prison term in my book!)

        • #3203882

          Let me clarify, Tony

          by nicknielsen ·

          In reply to Great!

          I usually only do it at intersections where, for whatever reason, the left turn lane has its own signal and there is no left turn [b]without[/b] a green arrow. If you don’t game the system at these intersections, you may sit through two or three cycles of the light before enough cars gather to trip the sensor.

          I don’t usually worry about it if a left turn is allowed on a solid green light. If somebody pulls in behind me, I move forward. And if there is nobody behind me, the left turn signal is usually timed so that it turns yellow as I enter the intersection.

          As for running the yellow to get caught in the intersection, this is the major cause of gridlock. My brother tells me New York City has essentially eliminated it by making the fines equivalent to those for speeding. I’ve heard that in Boston, they’ll tow you out of the intersection with you still in the car.

        • #3203877

          Oh, and third and fourth.

          by tonythetiger ·

          In reply to Let me clarify, Tony

          Third are rubberneckers, those who slow down passing by accident scenes to see if they can catch a glimpse of a stray body part, oblivious to those behind them who are trying to avoid looking, and fourth are the idiots, who upon seeing a “left lane closed ahead” sign, will swing out into the left lane, race up to the point of closure, then force their way back in.

          The ironic thing is many of these people who bitch and moan about the location and timing of traffic lights, the cameras at intersections, etc. are themselves the very reason these things were installed!

          Little do they realize that it works both ways. I have seen lights removed, or the timings quickened… when drivers started showing signs of responsibility. If people quit running the light… pretty soon the government will question the feasibility of maintaining that camera at that intersection…. and use that money to fix potholes on their street!

        • #3203858

          I hate rubberneckers

          by nicknielsen ·

          In reply to Oh, and third and fourth.

          There’s nothing worse than hitting a slowdown in rush-hour traffic only to discover that there has been a wreck in the opposite lanes and people are slowing down to check it out, even though the only ones who can see over the barrier are truckers.

          As for those that run up the lane that’s closing due to construction, the SC State Police tend to hang around where that lane closes. Not too many people run up there in the face of the blue lights more than once. For freeway lane reductions, many drivers are becoming irritated enough to not let the morons back in. I’ve seen more than one idiot hit the grass recently.

        • #3140918

          Arrogant drivers who want to outrun you on the onramp to merge

          by why me worry? ·

          In reply to I hate rubberneckers

          I’ve had my share of arrogant jackasses who think that the onramp to the highway is some sort of drag racing strip that entitles them to outrun me in the right lane and cut me off. I have forced many jerkoffs to either slow the hell down or risk running out of road because they have no choice but to slow down or sideswipe me to merge (which they don’t want to do). I’ll let drivers merge, but if they think they’re going to get cute and play Nascar with me, they will end up hitting the guard rail.

        • #3140835

          Not so much a problem for me

          by nicknielsen ·

          In reply to I hate rubberneckers

          if they are already moving with or faster than I am as they proceed through the ramp. But if they wait until the last minute to try to pass, they’re gonna eat shoulder.

          I will admit that I usually do my best to make sure that I am not the poor SOB in the right lane when the ramp meets the highway.

    • #3227967

      In a major metro area

      by mjd420nova ·

      In reply to Traffic light

      In the city where I live, the city planners are under a constant barrage of callers complaining about traffic lights either inoperative or malfunctioning. I see daily occurances of lights that refuse to trip via the loops placed in the road. Some are left turn lanes, others are crosswalks. I see a half dozen that trip for left turns when no one is there, others refuse to trip and others lock up on walk signs when no one pushed the button. A lot of these are from recent construction that have rendered the sensing loops either inoperative or sensing vehicles when none exist. Such are the perils of city driving. Motorcycles are another thing all together, but one trick I’ve used is to stop, shut off the motor and restart. This usually will trip the sensor and allow the turn arrow to come up. Many light cycles are controled by time of day also, changing the sequence depending on the time of day. The advent of technology has accelerated the usage of these tools to speed traffic flow, but can really screw up the works when sensors become faulty. You can’t win them all.

      • #3203080

        Flashing red for left turns

        by rfink ·

        In reply to In a major metro area

        In the Detroit metro area they use flashing red lights on the separate left turn signal so you don’t have to wait forever to make a left turn. It’s a great idea, I don’t see it used anywhere

        My pet peeve is when you have to wait for a light when there is no cross traffic. Common sense dictates you don’t need traffic lights when there’s no traffic.

        • #3226514

          Pistons, Redwings & Flashing red traffic lights…

          by fungus-among-us ·

          In reply to Flashing red for left turns

          Gee I guess Detroit isn’t such a bad place to live after all.

          “Makes you wonder about the agendas of city planners…”

          Ever driven around Columbus Ohio? Damn civil engineers thought it’d be a great idea to save on some real estate by putting the on-ramp directly in front of (about 30 yeard spacing) an off-ramp… makes for some great merges!

        • #3203417

          They have those same type of on/off ramps in Michigan

          by ontheropes ·

          In reply to Pistons, Redwings & Flashing red traffic lights…

          and all around the USA. Not fun.

        • #3203413

          Definitely all over

          by nicknielsen ·

          In reply to Pistons, Redwings & Flashing red traffic lights…

          The local example of this is called “Malfunction Junction” and actually flows pretty smoothly most of the time. People seem to automatically “zipper” on and off the freeway. (Zipper – vehicles alternate off the ramp, on the ramp, off the ramp, etc., like the teeth on a zipper.) But this being the US, there’s always at least one a$$hole who [b]has[/b] to be in front. It’s really fun to watch when two of these get side by side; one wants to leave the interstate, the other wants to merge, but neither will give an inch. It’s so funny sometimes to watch these people drive off the road rather than be courteous.

        • #3203545

          Flashing Red is Michigan Standard

          by laconvis ·

          In reply to Flashing red for left turns

          I also live in Michigan, the Grand Rapids area. The flashing red light on left turn signals is a statewide standard and not limited to Detroit.

        • #3203486

          No traffic, no lights?

          by oldmaven ·

          In reply to Flashing red for left turns

          Lights are often on timed cycles, sometimes synchronized to make traffic flow at a desires speed ( if you make one light, you theoretically make them all). Fixed timing always means some red lights when there’s no cross traffic. But there is now a growing variety of traffic sensors, most of which do not require digging, as inductive loops do (e.g., pole-mounted video cameras, pole-mounted radar, systems that count cell-phone density and track cellphone speeds, micro sensors…). These can be linked to intelligent traffic-light controllers, and probably are in some places; they also lead to better traffic-flow reporting, feeding better systems to get traffic info to drivers. Eventually, cars will communicate directly, radioing back “it’s congested here, be ready to slow down”–not driver to driver but car to car.

          It will cost money and take a while, but these systems are cumulative –after you’ve wired one road, you go n and wire the next.

      • #3226484

        Deadly combination

        by jeffykins ·

        In reply to In a major metro area

        Stupidity and cheapness.

        I used to work with a bunch of guys who had previously done sophisticated traffic light control, and here’s how they explained it:

        It’s easy to set up so traffic flows very smoothly, but the slightest malfunction messes the whole thing up. There’s no maintenance, so it never stays good for longer than a month. Plus, every power blink makes another mess. Plus, most places are too dumb and cheap to spend the few extra $$ to even put in sophisticated controls in the first place. This is especially true of any place that was recently rural, which I think explains a lot.

        • #3203414

          You said “the slightest malfunction “

          by ontheropes ·

          In reply to Deadly combination

          and I have to agree. Traffic management is not easy with both engineering problems and driver problems.

          I can’t find the link for it but I’ve seen a video and study on the German Autobahn where one hard braking incident in heavy traffic, (picture a driver almost missing his exit), can cause people to brake for up to an hour afterwards in a ripple effect.

          I think that would explain how you can be in heavy traffic and people seem to brake for no reason at all somedays and other days traffic flows smoothly.

          “Make it idiot-proof and someone will make a better idiot.” – Victor Hugo

        • #3203893

          I think it explains a lot too.

          by tonythetiger ·

          In reply to Deadly combination

          Now it’s not only ‘fly over’ country, it’s ‘drive over’ too. People don’t care who is inconvenienced, as long as it isn’t them. So let’s make Hicksville spend a lot of money on traffic systems so people from somewhere else don’t have to slow down when driving through there. God forbid a piece of rust from one of those old pickup trucks might settle on the hood af the Beemer and scratch it!

        • #3203847

          We need a portable RADAR sign with a traffic camera

          by ontheropes ·

          In reply to I think it explains a lot too.

          The Sheriff?s Traffic Safety Officer has had our road on a waiting list for one of their Speed RADAR signs. The speed limit past my house is 35 mph but because it?s fairly rural, compared to a city, people speed up EB (towards us) as soon as they get past the Fire Station and RR tracks to the west of us one mile.

          My closest neighbor on the opposite side of the road EB has 6 kids. None of them are teens yet. They?re often out in their front yard playing like kids do, while their Mother watches them. There?s a 35mph sign on the shoulder in front of their house 100 yd.?s past the Sheriffs sign and another one a half-mile past that one.

          I?ve been trying to get the County to install guard-rails in front of my house after seeing a roll-over accident directly across the road into an empty field last year. If they had rolled as far [b]towards[/b] my house at the speed they were going they would?ve ended up [b]in[/b] [i]my[/i] first floor bedroom.

          My front yard is four feet lower than the road in some places, low enough to qualify for guard-rails. There is only a three foot shoulder. The Sheriff Deputies and other officers, who have been over here as guests, say that it?s not unrealistic to believe that if someone launches at speed from the road they could land right in my bedroom. I think [b]I[/b] could do it at 55mph if I wanted to try it. I?ve [b]always[/b] been concerned about that ever since we moved here.

          Many drivers use our road as a short-cut to get to the State Highway. I watched the RADAR sign from my yard today when I?d go outside and smoke a cigarette. The fastest I saw were a half-dozen random vehicles running at 60 to 63, some of them never slowing down the entire way thru the 35 mph zone. Easily 60% of the drivers were 10+ over the speed limit and accelerating. It was closer to 80% a few times so I?m using 60% to be conservative. In my book, 10+ over is clearly ticket writing speed.

          I may have spent 20 minutes, in total, watching the sign. People would slow as soon as they saw that I was looking at them with my patented “friendly look”. Tooooo phony… err… I mean funny. :^0 B-)

          Keep in mind that this is Sunday. The volume isn’t very high today, even during the week, but there’s plenty of traffic during shift change hours.

          I live 6 miles from a population center of any size so most of the drivers aren?t from here. Without being able to give an accurate number I will still say that the vast majority of the drivers who were running the fastest are driving vehicles costing $35K+. It?s a really popular short-cut. Maybe if my neighbors and I had huge houses people would slow down more because we?d be ?respectable?. There [b]are[/b] a couple of places nearby where a tornado could come thru and do $50K worth of improvements, ifyouknowwhatImean.

          There aren?t 100 houses on this stretch of road. That doesn?t matter. It?s zoned 35mph for good reasons. Kids play here, there?s a church and an active fire-station nearby, several houses are closer to the road than mine and/or have yards lower, etc.

          One of the local Constables lives on this road too. Local cops, Deputies and Michigan State Police run regular stings for speed here. I?m highly in favor of that. That slows people down for about a week or so. I love to see the Lexus?s and whatever pulled over for a ticket while they?re loaded up with the entire ?fam damnily?. It makes me smile. B-)

          Not only don’t they care about my neighbors they don’t even care about their [b]own[/b] families. Maybe that ticket will make them think.

          Edit “,” . Sure…

        • #3203754

          Wasn’t there a state

          by tonythetiger ·

          In reply to We need a portable RADAR sign with a traffic camera

          One of the western states I think, who deployed a device to make radar detectors go off at random intervals?

        • #3140755

          I’m not sure

          by ontheropes ·

          In reply to Wasn’t there a state

          I never had a Radar detector in my big-ride and don’t use one now so I haven’t paid any attention. I’ve heard that Weigh Stations and patrol officers can detect detectors but I haven’t used Google to find out for certain.

    • #3204106

      It just isn’t that simple

      by dogknees ·

      In reply to Traffic light

      If it was as simple as you think to do this, it would certainly be done. One primary reason it isn’t simple is that the lights you want changed to suit you would almost certainly adversely affect other road users.

      One of the classic simulation exercises is to write a traffic sim with lights. It’s still not a fully solved problem as most programmers learn when trying to get their sim to work better. It’s usually a case of disadvantaging one group to help another.

      There is still a lot of research going into this, but to apply some of the technology that is in development requires significant infrastructure (cameras covering every parts of every road in the system) and major computing resources to recognize cars, trucks, bikes,… You’ve then got to factor in things like weather (you can’t travel as fast or as close together in wet weather) accidents, priority vehicles( from firetrucks to presidential motorcades), direction of travel(people travelling west at sunset can’t see as well), damaged roads, accidents,….

      Then you get the idiot who when they see a light go red ahead, slow down and roll upto the intersection rather than continue and brake a little harder when they get close. There’s often someone behind that wants to turn at those lights but can’t because of the “rollers”.

      Predicting which cars will roll up to the lights rather than driving up to them isn’t a simple problem!

      All in all it just ain’t that simple.

      Roll on automated cars. Then you have control over the whole system, and though it may take a vast amount of processing power, it would be far more feasible

      • #3204086

        No movement

        by problemsolversolutionseeker ·

        In reply to It just isn’t that simple

        My main complaint was that lights should see that there is no movement in a given direction, but there is a car waiting in another, so change the light more quickly.
        Also, I was complaining about the left turn arrows that ALWAYS come on but are rarely used.

        • #3204027

          Left turn arrows are needed in many places

          by why me worry? ·

          In reply to No movement

          If it weren’t for those left turn arrows, you simple would be sitting in the left turn lane for about 20 minutes like an idiot, waiting for the opportunity to turn because traffic is so heavy and nobody, I mean nobody, will yield to allow you to make a left turn.

        • #3203543

          Last time I checked

          by laconvis ·

          In reply to Left turn arrows are needed in many places

          The last time I checked the rules on left turns there is no requirment to yield to left turns. Do you think it would be better for someone to stop the traffic behind them and cause a pile up just to allow you to complete your left turn? Do we change the laws and re-educate every driver to be courteous and yield to left turns? If I were waiting 20 minutes to make a left, I would find another route to my destination that was less constricting.

        • #3203539

          You missed my point completely

          by why me worry? ·

          In reply to Last time I checked

          I am not advocating what you are claiming, but if it weren’t for left turn arrows on heavy intersections, it would be impossible to make that turn at all. Yes, you could look for an alternate route, but that is sometimes not feasible or not available at all. Yes, the separate left turn signal causes regular traffic to have to wait longer for their light, but if it decreases accidents by preventing drivers turning left from cutting off cross traffic to squeeze through the intersection, then it isn’t such a bad idea.

      • #3203668

        Complexity and Cost

        by wayne m. ·

        In reply to It just isn’t that simple

        gbently just touched on the difficulties. The problem is not in tuning a single traffic light, it is in tuning a vast set of traffic lights.

        The simplest approach is applying a static pattern to traffic lights in one specific direction of flow. Main street is tuned for inbound traffic in the morning and outbound traffic in the evening. This optimization, however, degrades all other paths. Furthermore, when somthing out of the normal happens, a road closure, repavement, a fender-bender, the optimization fails. The larger the stretch of the optimized path, the more likely a failure condition will occur.

        Addressing a traffic mesh presents a terribly complex problem that probably defies human capacity to form an algorithm. The solution would require a self learning, fuzzy logic approach based on a vast set of ground sensors feeding a central control system for all traffic lights. Predictive algorithms would have to learned to understand how traffic flow at point A affects points B, C, and D. It is unclear, however, what level of improvement might result. One might find that thousands of people making independent decisions have already tuned the system.

        • #3203651

          In other words, we need human traffic control cops

          by why me worry? ·

          In reply to Complexity and Cost

          The idea of an artificial intelligence system capable of dynamically learning and improving itself is probably too complex and expensive for most municipalities. It’s probably much cheaper to have a traffic control cop doing the job.

        • #3203607

          Artificial intelligence vs. lack of intelligence

          by andrewg ·

          In reply to In other words, we need human traffic control cops

          It may be true that ‘most’ municipalities cannot afford to design their own complex and expensive artificial intelligence for just their city. But if cities like Austin can develop a program for their city, and then mass market it to cities across the country, we may be able to see an affordable solution. I think that the true issue is that cities are low on money and are using the bad lights along with other backwards regulations to encourage law breakers (and thus increasing revenue). Although some people seem to advocate against breaking the law, cities like Colorado Springs depend on revenue from law breakers. Police are given a goal, and may face penalties for not reaching them.
          As a response to this dependance on revenue from traffic tickets, the city has been designed around this dependance. For example, There are NO east west highways. Because of the poor infrastructure, it takes over 30 minutes to drive 10 miles. If I drive north along powers (not a highway, but a faster road), I can drive 20 miles in the same 30 minutes. Of course this is quickly changing as this street is on the edge of town, and more lights are being built. This was supposed to be a highway, but that is no longer a possibility. The city is rated to have the worst road structure in the nation for a city of its size. The ONLY highway (i.e. road without lights) is Interstate 25. Being the ONLY highway in the vicinity of a city with a population around 500,000 means that the highway is ALWAYS at a crawl. On the plus side, since most lights require 2-3 cycles to get through during rush hour, the police have ample resources of revenue. It is sad that I can take backroads (charted by where the fewest lights are) and get across town faster in a 20 MPH zone. At least until too many people take these roads, as frequently occurs during rush hour.

        • #3203499

          DARPA logic now making it possible?

          by phake ·

          In reply to Complexity and Cost

          I watching a Discovery program on the DARPA (Defense department atonomous controlled off-road vehicle) competition last year, I could see that many parts of this logic were just now becomming possible. The winner (I think from Stanford) used advanced self-optomizing computer programming with standard radar radar and video feeds vs the competitors that mostly focused on hardware focused solutions of more advanced radar.
          There is now a DARPA contest for the urban environment.
          In other words, the old requirement of in-ground sensors may be soon replaced by standard video cameras and some programming to analyze the feed.

          My main point, DARPA had a $1 million prize to the winner. 3 years ago, no company or university could create the logic to analyze a moving road and navigate it at a respectable speed. 2 years ago, only one company could complete a few miles of the stretch. Last year 5 or 6 vehicles completed the 120 mile off-road race. Since it is now possible for programming to navigate an ever-changing road (new and in first person) It should not be difficult to sucessfully analyze a static intersection, with mapped in topography from fixed cameras in real time, all with relatively standard components.

        • #3203685

          All of that complexity

          by tonythetiger ·

          In reply to Complexity and Cost

          just to acommodate a relatively few idiots who don’t know how to stay in line and take turns 🙂

        • #3141015

          Fuzzy Logic

          by vulpinemac ·

          In reply to Complexity and Cost

          What you describe, to the extent of the sensors, already exists to
          some extent in most major cities in the US, specifically LA and
          NYC as well as others.

          Unfortunately, this sensor input is process and displayed in a
          centralized location and monitored by people who have to
          attempt to ‘manually’ adjust timings to alleviate grid hotspots;
          usually without any computer assistance as far as recommended
          procedures. Based on very pedestrian observations, the end
          result is that the hotspot moves to a new location by direct
          translation rather than being alleviated by adjusting the entire
          system to modify the flow.

          If the rest of your idea were implemented and the system were
          allowed to learn and react appropriately, such hotspots could be
          handled more smoothly and efficiently. Of course, this means
          the operators would need to keep their hands out of the
          spaghetti while the computer learns how to untangle the
          strands. (Then again, if the computer monitored the effect of
          such meddling, again it would be a chance to learn and not
          make the same mistakes.)

          Nothing is likely to be perfect as long as traffic has to intersect.
          Only by forcing east/west traffic to run on one level and north/
          south on another will gridlock be eliminated, and even then
          you’ll always have hotspots.

      • #3203423

        As one of your “idiots”

        by nicknielsen ·

        In reply to It just isn’t that simple

        I learned to drive in mountainous country during wintry conditions. One of the first lessons you learn is to start slowing down as soon as you see red ahead. If you wait and “brake a little harder,” particularly in rain or snow, you are just as likely as not to keep on going. [“Skater’s Waltz” plays] Only now you don’t have any control.

        You [i]don’t know[/i] what the road conditions ahead might be. If you can slow down without hard braking, you are better off.

        • #3203891

          Most drivers

          by tonythetiger ·

          In reply to As one of your “idiots”

          flunked physics 🙂

        • #3203880

          Or think

          by nicknielsen ·

          In reply to Most drivers

          that it only applies in the high school lab.

        • #3203875

          or depend

          by tonythetiger ·

          In reply to Or think

          too much on the hardware (both the traffic devices AND their vehicle). I tell them “Yes, as soon as the light turns green, you have the ‘right’ to proceed, but that right is not a magical forcefield to the crossing tractor-trailer who thought he could beat his light.”

      • #3203693

        It Doesn’t Have to Be So Complicated

        by cettech ·

        In reply to It just isn’t that simple

        As many posts have mentioned, there are certain measures that can be taken to mitigate many of the flow problems with better signals using flashing red left turn, flow volume detection sensors, alternate flashing yellow with flashing red at low volume times, etc. I know of many places where the fact is that the traffic signals are static and are NEVER adaptive. Most frustrating to me (and I’ve seen this in many places around the country), is main thouroughfares where when I leave from a green light as the first vehicle I begin to accelerate and I am almost immediately met by a red light at the next intersection. The dominant direction in a traffic system should not have the first vehicles stopped at every stop light unless they are driving very slowly. This causes terrible congestion, adds to emissions, and causes people to coast too much in expectation of the inevitable red light (which in turn slows traffic even more).

        As the original post stated, the problem is that most traffic systems even today are archaic and static. They assume traffic flows based on studies which are only valid for a given time period and time of year at best. Using a truly adaptive system would eliminate the need for traffic studies because the system would always be monitoring what the state of traffic is (as well as a history of what it has been) in order to make informed decisions on how to best time the lights for the most efficient flow.

    • #3204100

      There are some smart (ish) traffic lights

      by roger bamforth ·

      In reply to Traffic light

      At least in the UK, and also this situation is obviously a lot simpler than city traffic.

      There is a single lane bridge near where I live, controlled by traffic lights. These lights are clever enough to take into account the traffic.

      I have driven up to them just as they have turned red, but they have realised that there is no traffic waiting to come the other way and have immediately turned green again.

      • #3203833

        Small Improvements would be Great

        by jvhilbs ·

        In reply to There are some smart (ish) traffic lights

        Like the for mentioned situation, sensing cross traffic would be a great improvement. And small changes like these could be made easily. Adding more sensors would also be great. How else are lights going to know if traffic is coming, besides feedback from near by lights, if there are not sensors leading up to them.

    • #3204085

      Get rid of ’em.

      by lastchip ·

      In reply to Traffic light

      Traffic lights are about the most inefficient way of controlling traffic known to man.

      Whenever lights go down, traffic flows freely!

      They need to be replaced by a new sort of junction where NO ONE has right of way. EVERYONE slows down with a strictly enforced speed maximum and slots in behind each other, then you have true full usage of the road, with minimal delays.

      The whole concept would be: If you had a crash, it’s as much YOUR fault as the other guys.

      • #3204082

        Making assumptions

        by mmathewson ·

        In reply to Get rid of ’em.

        You are making assumptions that the whole of traffic follows the rules. If they can’t do it with lights they certainly would be less inclined to do so without them.

        Rollers can be problematic at intersections as can semi’s that regularly run the red left turn signal, the drivers who figure that the red light means three more vehicles through the intersection. These factors alone will upset any timing or synchronization scheme established for traffic control. That’s what makes it so difficult to predict.

        Municipalities don’t fix the potholes in order to slow traffic down and make the aging and unkept trafic controls still manageable

      • #3204019

        by neilsm ·

        In reply to Get rid of ’em.

      • #3204018

        It’s called a roundabout

        by neilsm ·

        In reply to Get rid of ’em.

        Roundabouts are widely used in the UK as a replacement for signals or stop signs. Where I live in Canada they are pulling out some signals and using roundabouts instead for lower costs and better flows. However Americans aren’t used to such changes (remember the metric system?) so it may never happen there.

        • #3204007

          Problem is….

          by lastchip ·

          In reply to It’s called a roundabout

          With roundabouts, generally you are required to give way to traffic from the right in the UK; there are exceptions to that.

          The point I was making was, whenever the traffic lights fail, people slow down and are careful (because there is no right of way) and the traffic flows just fine. If you look at it from a different perspective, the wasted time spent at traffic lights when nothing else is happening, can be phenomenal.

          That mentality is needed to make traffic flow freely. Putting more traffic lights, roundabouts, islands and goodness knows what else, does nothing to relieve the problem.

        • #3203918

          I agree – build the flyovers etc

          by wobblyo ·

          In reply to Problem is….

          I fully agree that the traffic needs to be kept flowing, and the only answer to that is flyovers with on and off ramps. Even in towns, there are quite a few places in the UK where a 2 lane road diverges from the middle of the street and goes over the top of the junction re-joining at the opposite side. The only traffic using the junction are those vehicles that need to make a turn. Not a cheap otpion, but there again, neither are traffic lights.

      • #3203933

        The Internet as a municipal service

        by tec1000 ·

        In reply to Get rid of ’em.

        Signalized intersections are a feature with finite resources. Their most significant limitation is there are only 3600 seconds in an hour. If more traffic arrives than can be processed in that hour, it must wait for service in the next hour.

        The left turn phases everyone wants take use some of that 3600s. The more conflicting phases you have, the more other traffic waits. At intersections with left turn phases on every approach, through traffic may actually be moving for less than 30 minutes an hour. Can you say constrained operation?

        Generally signal operation begins to breakdown when through traffic volumes exceed about 700vph. At that point you need to add lanes to allow more vehicles to share the available greentime. So the intersections get bigger.

        Consider what the internet would be like if it were run by municipal or state governments with their short-term budget outlook. Skeleton staffing, outdated resources, byzantine or low-bid purchasing requirements, and the always present political influence. Maintenance issues are dealt with by ignoring them. One state is currently repacing a major corridor bridge at the cost of hundreds of millions of tax dollars because previous administrations had cut maintenance operations from the budget. Those millions could have been spent on other infrastructure improvements.

        Signal operations are essentially a time sharing operation that must accommodate traffic demands, political influence, and commercial interests. Traffic demand may not be at the top of the list.

      • #3203832

        Only Some Truth to That

        by jvhilbs ·

        In reply to Get rid of ’em.

        I can certainly agree that in many circumstances that traffic flows much better when lights are down. One example where this does not work: Lights where at least one direction has four lanes of traffic. What is involved at these are left hand turns and too many cars stopping and not knowing who’s turn it is. The last especially, is a major traffic stopper.

    • #3203666

      Road policy

      by sr10 ·

      In reply to Traffic light

      Several decades ago, transportation planners decided that they could never expect people to drive competently, and so elected to minimize the damage. This policy decision manifests as reduced speed limits, strategic use of traffic controls to slow traffic and emphasis on defensive driving.

      Now traffic in areas such as Atlanta is so dense that we are seeing unacceptable commute times. This policy is no longer working. Yet no one seems to want to come out and tell the general public, “You are expected to be competent and aware behind the wheel.” This change is the only way that you will have reasonable traffic levels. Decisions about controls such as traffic lights and 4-way stops (yuk, ptui!) cascade down from this.

      For example, the red-yellow (announcing that the light is about to turn green) is inconsistent with US road policy (no one is paying attention anyway) and is therefore not implemented or implementable.

    • #3203647


      by michael.rosanbalm ·

      In reply to Traffic light

      You took the thought off my keyboard… Not only is time wasted, but the fuel wasted is off the charts! I think we are using the same technology developed 25 years ago, Timing, rather then intelligent switching.


      • #3203593

        Fuel wasted should be the primary concern

        by phake ·

        In reply to 100%

        There needs to be government mandate that a town get no transportation $$ unless it is for a system that allows flowing traffic (i.e allows vehicles to go through 5 consecutive lights in on the same road at the speed limit without a light stopping them.

        (Ohio’s govenor had mandated that all highway construction must maintain at least 2 lanes open each way during highway construction projects. The extra cost of adding lanes and widing bridges before the “real” construction began should be cheaper to Ohio’s economy than the loss of the economy’s loss of production by all of the sitting workers)

        Wireless communications (yes with a fail-safe old-timing if wireless is temp down) and computing power are really cheap now. It should not take a great deal of equipment or impossible programming to make things work better. (i.e. 2 lights in front of a Walmart that never allow traffic to go throught both lights.)

    • #3203601


      by straightshooter ·

      In reply to Traffic light

      Hey folks, we’re in IT. Why are we going to an office every day? Why not use remote access from home for the mundane, daily stuff? Don’t go in the office unless you need to do some physical, on-site work. Then schedule it for some less busy traffic time. You can help solve the problem by staying off the road.

      • #3203542

        Remote Access

        by laconvis ·

        In reply to Remote

        We may be in IT but not all compnies allow remote access or working from home. Many companies and managers still see us a part of the traditional 8-5 workforce. Another road block for remote access to work, SOX! Certain security measures block the idea of IT staff working from home. I wish tele-commuting would take off but I don’t believe that companies outside of California are on the band wagon.

      • #3203422

        On-site requirements

        by nicknielsen ·

        In reply to Remote

        The hardware people will always have to be on-site. Until the remote-control robots are perfected, some things just have to be done hands-on.

    • #3203559

      Traffic Light Management

      by jhuebner ·

      In reply to Traffic light

      I recently was employed by a division of an “international” corporation that had a division (not the one I was in) that is strictly focused on Traffic Light Management.

      They have devices that do allow emergancy vehicles and public transportation vehicles to have proximity priority on traffic signals.

      The division I worked for had a transit vehicle logistics tool & we worked with the signal management folks on occassion.

      It is out there, just not for the “general population” yet… hang in there…

      I’m sure they’ll be installing it on personal vehicles soon!

    • #3203415

      Greater Atlanta is the [i]pits[/i]

      by nicknielsen ·

      In reply to Traffic light

      for both traffic and driving. Other than the interstates, I haven’t driven that much there except in the Northlake and Buckhead areas, but what I saw seemed to be intended more to slow traffic down than to allow it to flow.

      Of course, I should point out that I was passed in a 40mph zone by more than one vehicle moving at least 20 mph faster than I was at 45mph. I had to slow down for a couple of lights, but never had to stop…

    • #3203392

      Working on solution right now…

      by falconeer ·

      In reply to Traffic light

      Yes, I feel your pain. Multiply the loss of productivity times the cost of gas, etc. and you get losses in the billions.

      We’re developing a device (with varying options) which eliminates most, if not all, of the shortcomings in the current technology.

      Just one facet to consider is that it is no longer necessary to install the sensing ?strips? (several hundreds of dollars per light intersection).

      These ?stripes? fail quite often and then the light goes into ?backup? mode, Timed. A major pain.

      Cities have reduced their staffs that check these intersections resulting in weeks, if not months of ?timed? operation.

      Our main problem has been that various local governments are reluctant to release information on the details of what their costs are.

      Even the most expensive model (in my original investigation) is more than cost effective as it can be retrofitted to existing light signals.

      It goes without saying the device employs cell/GPS technology.

      • #3203831

        I am Intrigued

        by jvhilbs ·

        In reply to Working on solution right now…

        If there is anything else you could tell us or perhaps links you could provide us with I am most interested.

        • #3202730

          Jhilby first and a short to ‘Tony’

          by falconeer ·

          In reply to I am Intrigued

          Within reason I?ll be glad to share discussions about the technology but as you understand there are things we?d rather keep mum on.

          The small budget allocated was mostly ?burnt up? by guess what? The cotton-picking attorneys, supposedly to protect our investment. Basically, with a few exceptions, we can only claim ?intellectual? rights, i.e. copyright. Heck we already knew that and we spent money to be told that? What we needed to know was how best to protect what we might be doing.

          The technology is there it?s just how you use it.

          Case in point? the basic technology that ?Google Earth? uses is, in most cases, decades old. Yet, look at how they ?put? it all together. (Guess, I?m easily impressed)

          What began as an intellectual curiosity now has turned into a nightmare? Old adage: Why worry about milking a hundred cows if you can?t milk one? (think I just made that one up)

          After looking at some of what?s been attempted we decided to ?throw the baby out with the bathwater?. That?s right, a lot of the new ?improvements? are just kludges to try to fix something that was designed ?many? decades ago.

          So we employed the KISS principal and began with two lanes of traffic with two intersections. (therefore two lights, now two cows).

          Some of our guys were pretty funny as was evidenced by his ?light? messages converted to text. Light1 says, ?Hay bub, I just let 14 vehicles through in your direction.? Bub replies, ?Oh, thanks a lot. I?ve got a red to you and have 7 vehicles crossing at my intersection?

          Thus began our conversation between light signals.

          Sorry folks, no left turns yet.

          We started applying failures, what if?s? solved that? or we thought so at the time.

          Time calculations of XMIT/receive messages. Wrote some code for ?burst? messages, i.e., what gets relayed to a central location and how.

          Increased the complexity, the traffic also increases, still no left turns? I mean if you can?t control the traffic in straight lines yet???

          Ah, some wise guy just started allowing left turns at 1 intersection. Things start going downhill when we introduce some idiot who just might be waiting for his favorite shade of green.

          And on and on it went?

          Some major hurdles now loomed at the horizon. A city with 3,000 lights?

          Ok, great, transmit/receive info from 3,000 lights? Yep, that was a big clincher! Even if it were available, no way are the Fed?s going to allocate that kind of ?band usage?.

          Solved that one, partly?

          Well what really made stuff hit the fan was when a select ?few? traffic engineers were invited to see the ?system?.

          After plying them with food & lots of beverages, getting signatures on non-disclosures & non-competes the ungrateful louts tore us a ?new? one. Hmm, maybe should have let them have a ?few? more beverages.

          In closing for now I realize how many grumbles there are about the situation, but why should we as a company ?waste? time (read money) we don?t really have? I have no answer for that one but for those interested I?ve set a prescreening address for a limited number of people. You tell us about yourself, we?ll tell you about us and we?ll go on from there.

          For your further information, aside from coding, calculations, investigations, a lot of scribbling on white boards and quite a bit of discussion we?ve not built ?anything? we don?t do that. Our concentration is solving, or trying to solve what I?ve attempted to describe.

          We aren?t traffic engineers although some are at the point where one could say, ?Yesterday I couldn?t even spell ?engoner? now I are one.?

          In my estimation we aren?t even at the point where we could accept ?seed? capital? although I might entertain the thought.

          TonyTheTiger ? it?s a given that ?maintenance is done on site? and if they can?t make adjustments to traffic flow what?s the purpose of the system? I mean is it that badly designed?

          Jhilby of Lockport, IL thank you for your expressed interest and if you?re still interested you are first in line.

          Please introduce yourself to me, Marcel:

          *edited, forgot the darn http://*

          For a little more quick, slightly inaccurate, info see and don?t miss

          Thank you all? it?s given us a little encouragement to continue on for a while and yes we?ll lose a lot of sleep.

      • #3203784


        by now left tr ·

        In reply to Working on solution right now…

        Is this to identify what light is faulty and provide location for engineers to visit via PDA per chance?

        • #3140949

          We already have that.

          by tonythetiger ·

          In reply to GPS?

          In fact, the engineers can input changes to the signal programming from their desks at the office. But…., they don’t. There’s too much at stake to chance an error that might cost someone their life. They view the timings and see the traffic counts (the loops can also count vehicles), but all maintenance is done on-site.

        • #3202750

          Wish I hadn’t said GPS

          by falconeer ·

          In reply to GPS?

          Gosh I wish I hadn’t even included the word GPS. The consideration of using GPS came in on one of the early ‘possible’ solutions. After an extensive examination of cell coverage there were only a few places/circumstances where GPS would be needed and the full capability wasn’t needed since we don’t really need the altitude/speed of the traffic light. So, usually a channel in the ‘reserved’ bands of cellular would be sufficient to transmit/receive that type of information. And remember you can?t really ‘talk to’ a GPS transmitter.

          Even if GPS were employed we would only need info from 2 sat?s for placement data.

          But you are right about a tie-in for PDA?s. (That is if you can find a crew that will stay awake long enough to use them. Seriously, I?ve seen traffic engineers ?monitoring? traffic conditions whilst asleep. Wish I could do that)

          What it all boils down to is a ‘traffic’ cop at each location. (mentioned by someone in an earlier thread)

          As time permits I will share what I can ‘without’ divulging our deep secrets.

        • #3202706


          by now left tr ·

          In reply to Wish I hadn’t said GPS

          Somthing fails….
          Using IP over the Power grid the Light logs the issue with a central server.

          Central Server keeps track off all the lights in X area. Larger server keeps track of all servers for X’s areas.

          Problem relayed to PDA via Cell or 3G

          Engineer visits.

    • #3203368

      Traffic Lights

      by ericwvogt ·

      In reply to Traffic light

      When a traffic light stops the traffic, gasoline is wasted there and wasted getting back up to speed. This costs the driver money. The money in part, goes back to the municipal government involved in the timing of the lights in the form of taxes. Is this not a conflict of interest?

    • #3203367

      Traffic signal delay

      by vaneiken ·

      In reply to Traffic light

      Hi. I’ve spent 30+ years working on traffic signals. I was responsible for Two mainframes, and 435 micro processors, with a staff of seventeen. The problem you speak of is a little more complex than you think. From the information you give, it sounds like the signals are operating properly, but the timings (coordination) needs to be studied. There are two facets of traffic sifnals; maintenance, and timing. Maintenance is performed by Traffic Operations, and timings are calculated by Traffic Engineering. Also your problem is probably confined to your local jurisdiction. Traffic signals are designed and maintained by strict Fedreal and state standards. Your best bet is to call (email) your local jurisdiction.

    • #3203353

      Traffic Lights are Legacy Solutions

      by afgcons ·

      In reply to Traffic light

      Europe busily replaces 4-way stop and traffic light intersections by “stop-less / light-less” TRAFFIC CIRCLES. Bet you, most Americans don’t know what a taffic circle is. Yet, most roads in North America are wide enough for a traffic circle.

      Sometimes lights are necessary or preferable. Many (European-) inner-city intersection are too narrow for traffic circles. There you find “smart” lights using overhead motion sensors or wire loops buried in each lane (left-turn, straight-thru and right-turn lanes). They regulate the INTERVAL and DURATION of all traffic lights of that stretch of “Main Street”. If nobody approaches from a side street or no car lines up for a left-turn then the light remain green. Once they switch to red it’s for a few seconds, just long enough for the waiting cars to free the lane.

      • #3203338

        Government Thrown Out With the Bathwater

        by mikea ·

        In reply to Traffic Lights are Legacy Solutions

        The problem in the US is that after many decades of insane Republicans claiming that government is evil, we live in a chaos-state where pretty much everything is totally broken. Idiotic traffic controls is just one small example of this. I recognized that the citizens of the US had hopelessly contracted Nazi-Germany disease back in the late 1980s, and I moved to a rural community where zombi-Republicans don’t have the ability to destroy my quality of life. The only way all these problems are going to be fixed is when the USA is finally (and thankfully) dissolved, and we can once again rebuild civilization on the North American land mass. All you Republicans reading this might want to take note: when the &%$!?**! hits the fan, you guys are gonna be on the short list for reparations. I’ll need bank account info. and other important documents ready for inspection at the appointed time. If you need any further information, go to and have a nice read.

        • #3203862

          Maybe there [b]IS[/b] something to that…

          by tonythetiger ·

          In reply to Government Thrown Out With the Bathwater

          After all, they are called traffic [b][u]control[/b][/u] devices and you do have to agree to [b][u]obey[/b][/u] them before you get your license… 🙂

      • #3203780

        Been there, Done That, Not here, please

        by problemsolversolutionseeker ·

        In reply to Traffic Lights are Legacy Solutions

        Some of these traffic circles are literally turn arounds drawn on pavements in the middle of blocks. Fifty percent of cars in the US cannot make those turns.

        I am all for roundabouts, though. Admittedly, the stress factor for going through a lot of these is pretty high.

    • #3204023

      What about roundabouts (USA=circles)

      by wobblyo ·

      In reply to Traffic light

      Nobody has mentioned roundabouts, that great British and now european invention that allows traffic to continue flowing (albeit slower) in all directions.

      Admittedly if traffic is really heavy you end up adding lights to the roundabout at peak times, but it seems to work.

      We have 1 or 2 roundabouts here in Las Vegas, but drivers are not happy if anyone drives onto the roundabout whilst they are on it. I have had many drivers slam on their brakes as I try to smoothly manoevure in behind them (I think that they think I am going to ram them).

    • #3203987

      The bane of motorists…trafic lights

      by andy.white2006 ·

      In reply to Traffic light

      Before we ask if IT profesionals can fix trafic lights we should be asking if the lights are necesary and if so why?
      Many of the most awfull sets of lights are the result of absurbd trafic schemes whose purpose is suposedly to reduce congestion by causing so many delays to normal trafic as to deter drivers from following their prefered route and instead use that prefered by our lords and masters the town hall Hitlers.I regularly observe such trafic schemes being formulated, rejected and then sneaked in through the back door in a peicemeal fashion despite objections from both the motorists and our democraticly elected representatives.There is a disease at work in our societies that is worse than Comunism,Facism or even the Nazi’s and that is the trafic planner.
      These “oficials” delight in torturing the public who pay their wages by not only fouling up the trafic flow through even the simplest of junctions which only required a roundabout and common sense to navigate but they lay waste to whole areas of cityscape with barriers,signs, crossings and of course the dreaded inescapable one way system.In my home city of Brighto,England such mayhem has been purpetrated by these “planers” that it now takes longer to cross the city during the rush hours than to drive to London!One bizare trafic scheme after another has turned the city into such a nightmare that even the locals have to trust to luck and try to muddle their way through the one way systems and the multitude of lights.Whilst all other expendature is heavily constrained or savagely cut back the trafic planners have a free hand to destroy our citys and lives, and all at our unlimited expence!
      And should you actualy find a junction where trafic lights are realy needed instead of roundabouts and pedestrian crossings do you realy want a computer in charge? The most sucessfull trafic lights use state machines with variable timing which is adjusted to the level of trafic crossing the junction as detected by buried loops and also the presence of trafic waiting at the junction as detected again by inductive loops and by radar based detectors. Momentary power failure or even severe spiking just results in a fail safe of all lights red untill the default timing sequences have restarted.In a state machine unexpected sequences do not exist except during the testing stage when a lousy peice of logic of a failure to mathematicaly test all possible logic states during design may show up and result in the incompetent being sacked!
      Finaly; if the juntion is that dangerous as to require trafic lights doesn’t that indicate poor design of that juction in the first place?

    • #3203985

      The bane of motorists…trafic lights

      by andy.white2006 ·

      In reply to Traffic light

      Before we ask if IT profesionals can fix trafic lights we should be asking if the lights are necesary and if so why?
      Many of the most awfull sets of lights are the result of absurbd trafic schemes whose purpose is suposedly to reduce congestion by causing so many delays to normal trafic as to deter drivers from following their prefered route and instead use that prefered by our lords and masters the town hall Hitlers.I regularly observe such trafic schemes being formulated, rejected and then sneaked in through the back door in a peicemeal fashion despite objections from both the motorists and our democraticly elected representatives.There is a disease at work in our societies that is worse than Comunism,Facism or even the Nazi’s and that is the trafic planner.
      These “oficials” delight in torturing the public who pay their wages by not only fouling up the trafic flow through even the simplest of junctions which only required a roundabout and common sense to navigate but they lay waste to whole areas of cityscape with barriers,signs, crossings and of course the dreaded inescapable one way system.In my home city of Brighto,England such mayhem has been purpetrated by these “planers” that it now takes longer to cross the city during the rush hours than to drive to London!One bizare trafic scheme after another has turned the city into such a nightmare that even the locals have to trust to luck and try to muddle their way through the one way systems and the multitude of lights.Whilst all other expendature is heavily constrained or savagely cut back the trafic planners have a free hand to destroy our citys and lives, and all at our unlimited expence!
      And should you actualy find a junction where trafic lights are realy needed instead of roundabouts and pedestrian crossings do you realy want a computer in charge? The most sucessfull trafic lights use state machines with variable timing which is adjusted to the level of trafic crossing the junction as detected by buried loops and also the presence of trafic waiting at the junction as detected again by inductive loops and by radar based detectors. Momentary power failure or even severe spiking just results in a fail safe of all lights red untill the default timing sequences have restarted.In a state machine unexpected sequences do not exist except during the testing stage when a lousy peice of logic of a failure to mathematicaly test all possible logic states during design may show up and result in the incompetent being sacked!
      Finaly; if the juntion is that dangerous as to require trafic lights doesn’t that indicate poor design of that juction in the first place?

    • #3203960

      A couple of thoughts.

      by tonythetiger ·

      In reply to Traffic light

      In any large computer controlled traffic system, there are a lot more factors involved than what a single driver can see through his windshield. Your light may stay red a little longer due to a backup a couple of miles ahead or even on a different street, and holding you up a few more seconds may prevent a total gridlock up the road.

      Likewise, a traffic light at a particular spot may seem dumb to you, but maybe the people who were injured at that intersection prior to its being installed might feel differently. A lot of thought and testing goes into the placement and timing of traffic control devices. Some of the delays are due to impatient drivers. For example, many drivers, upon seeing a “prepare to stop” flasher, will speed up to “make the light”, which makes the intersection more dangerous for everybody. The engineers responded to this trend by increasing the overlap time.

      If it’s holding you up that much, the best thing to do is simply leave earlier.

    • #3203958

      Because they aren’t asked to…

      by tachyon ·

      In reply to Traffic light

      Of course traffic lights could be smarter. In fact smarter lights _are_ available.
      The problem is that most places don’t want them.
      Either the rapacious waste of city budgets doesn’t allow dollars for it, or they want to slow traffic down and think the lights not being synchronized is the way to do it.

      Besides city engineers don’t trust IT engineers, and think they already know it all.


    • #3203948

      AMEN brother!

      by boilers78 ·

      In reply to Traffic light

      I live in northwest Ohio. Feel free to visit Findlay, Ohio anytime you really want to enjoy poorly timed traffic lights. It’s a town of about 40,000, but it is nothing to be backed up behind several lights because they aren’t timed. I live 15 out in the country, and I can get to town faster than I can get through town. I know because I’ve timed it. And that is only about 18 lights, I can’t imagine what 50 would do.
      Instead of worrying about gas mileage to save money, maybe Congress should see to it that cities have funding for updating their systems. How much gas would that save?? But then that would take too much sense.

    • #3203743

      Another Stupid Light

      by ssirvin ·

      In reply to Traffic light

      There is a high school near me. it is in the middle of nowhere, (ie not in town)and the light is on 24/7. People leaving the school have to wait for the light, when there usually isn’t anyone coming. Then when the light turns red, all traffic on the road must stop to let 1 car out that prob would have been already gone with just a stop sign. I understand during school hours, but when the custodial staff is leaving at 10:00 pm? I guess they never heard of flashing red/yellow.

    • #3203704

      Off the track

      by vulpinemac ·

      In reply to Traffic light

      I hate to say this, but most of the posters here have missed the
      point and also missed one of the most major effects!

      True, you complain that the lights stop you frequently, and
      you’re right. But realize too that the lights are so poorly timed
      that you MUST go more than 10mph over the speed limit to
      catch every light green in most runs (regardly of city.) This also
      means that, just to get a chance of catching the next light in a
      series green, you have to accelerate like a dragster, consuming
      mass quantities of fuel. (Ok, I’m sounding like a geek here.)

      The point is: to get the most efficient traffic flow, the timing of
      the lights need to be adjusted so that cars AT the speed limit
      have the best chance of getting several greens in a row. This not
      only moves more cars more quickly, but ALSO saves gallons of
      gas per cycle when you consider the number of vehicles
      affected. This would also mean that the average city MPG would
      go up because you wouldn’t be accelerating as frequently or as
      hard on a per-vehicle basis.

      Now, I’m not one to promote conspiracy theories, but who would
      be the most hurt by adjusting the timing on traffic lights?

      Yes, traffic lights are necessary to help prevent accidents and
      deaths; but if the lights are ignored by those who are simply in
      too much of a hurry to obey the laws, they’re still going to
      happen, and probably worse than before at those same
      intersections. By analyzing traffic flow through a region or a city
      with modern technology, even the existing infrastructure can be
      fine-tuned to provide more efficient and more cost-effective
      management for both the city AND the driver.

Viewing 22 reply threads