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Toys Hardware Technology

Traffic Light Control For The Masses 824 824

uniformed1 writes "Eliminating red lights along the routes of their vehicles can give emergency response teams the few extra critical minutes that can save lives and property. A front page article in today's Detroit News details the emerging problem with a device that is now being made available to the public -- a traffic light changer. Originally intended only for emergency vehicles, the $300 MIRT (mobile infrared transmitter) emits an infrared beam that signals traffic signals to turn green and gives the vehicle the right-of-way. It is only a matter of time before self-centered drivers start using the devices widely to skirt traffic congestion, which is creating fears that chaos will ensue." Maybe if everyone had these, it would lead to smarter intersections.
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Traffic Light Control For The Masses

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  • Plans? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by evilmuffins (631482) on Sunday October 26, 2003 @08:45PM (#7315867)
    It couldn't be to hard to hack together one of these could it?
  • Change the Behavior (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Dolohov (114209) on Sunday October 26, 2003 @08:49PM (#7315894)
    One thing to do, then, would be to change the behavior of the traffic lights so that on receiving this signal, they go to four-way red. Since emergency vehicles can run red lights, it doesn't stop them, while simultaneously deterring civilians from using them.

    (The trouble is the lack of feedback. You'd need some kind of indication that the other ways had gone to red before the ambulance driver will have confidence going through the intersection at full speed)
  • Re:I remember... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by digital bath (650895) on Sunday October 26, 2003 @08:53PM (#7315918) Homepage
    Sure, but would you if everyone else had one and kept cutting your green light off? Would you be tempted then?
  • Lame (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Midnight Warrior (32619) on Sunday October 26, 2003 @08:54PM (#7315919) Homepage

    The specs have been out on how to build these things for years. Never caught on, maybe because they felt like the whole beige/black/red/blue box phenomenon. MAYBE if they start showing up in places like Best Buy it will catch on, but even still, I doubt it. Besides, I asked some EMTs/the driver one time if the light at the intersections would benefit them by this light predetermination technology. They said no. Doesn't matter because people still run the yellow and red lights so they still have to slow down. And this was for a signal 100 ft. from the station driveway.

    I concede that yes, it may help in congested downtown areas like LA or NY, but in 95% of the U.S. they either aren't installed or useful enough to justify their cost.

    BTW, it's just a pre-canned, encoded signal on a fixed carrier wave over an infrared signal. Think "really powerful remote control" for you newbies.

  • Minneapolis/St. Paul (Score:2, Interesting)

    by prabhath (620114) on Sunday October 26, 2003 @08:55PM (#7315938)
    We've had these little devices on the streets of Minneapolis/St. Paul and the surrounding Metro areas for about 7 or so years now.. They're little sensors that (i believe) get activated by the lights on emergency vehicles.
  • by sahrss (565657) on Sunday October 26, 2003 @08:57PM (#7315955)
    Some people would then buy these things just because it would give them the power to annoy everyone else...

    Kind of like trolls on /.
  • by bluGill (862) on Sunday October 26, 2003 @09:01PM (#7315977)

    All the lights I've seen have a light next to the recieving unit that indicates which direction has the right away. This was done after 2 emergency vechicals going different directions (or at least coming from different directions) crashed in the middle of the intersection because they assumed they had the right away.

  • Isn't this illegal? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ezraekman (650090) on Sunday October 26, 2003 @09:04PM (#7315998) Homepage

    This kind of thing strikes me as the real-world equivalent of exploiting an unsecured software backdoor. You are, in effect, "hacking" the streetlight network. Hmm... sounds like a good book title. ;-) I'm not sure I buy into the "chaos will ensue" hype. There are European cities that use similar devices (though, with different technologies) to allow public transit to get through traffic quickly, to advocate leaving your car at home. But that's where control over lights should lie: with the appropriate authorities.

    Why do these lights exist? To solve traffic problems. They do this by effectively "controlling" drivers. If the traffic authorities decide that it is beneficial to give the priority to emergency vehicles and public transit, so be it. I feel that this is beneficial to society. But when drivers force the system to obey their wishes, they are circumventing the apparent benefits of such a system, putting themselves before society. IMHO, this is wrong.

    I'm waiting for the first case to go to trial. Think it'll be seen as the equivalent of running a red light, or gaining unauthorized access to a network?

  • by jo_ham (604554) <joham999@@@gmail...com> on Sunday October 26, 2003 @09:06PM (#7316006)
    There are sensors on the top of traffic lights in the UK that respond to headlights.

    If an ambulance is approaching lights on red he can flash his full beams a few times and the sequence changes.

    I use this feature all the time at the lights near my house, especially late at night when the deafult sequence on the lights is to stay green for the main road all the time unless a car approaches on the minor road.
  • *sigh* (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Guppy06 (410832) on Sunday October 26, 2003 @09:27PM (#7316105)
    "Maybe if everyone had these, it would lead to smarter intersections."

    Maybe if everybody drove the speed limit they'd synchronize with the timers in the traffic lights and not get stopped by a red light to begin with.

    (It also provides the enjoyment of sailing past the Honda weed-eaters, the ones that just had to hurry up and beat everybody else to the next red light.)
  • by StandardCell (589682) on Sunday October 26, 2003 @09:35PM (#7316144)
    Although I lived almost three years in Northern California and disliked the place as a whole, the one thing that did stand out is the outstanding traffic control system with optical and pavement vehicle sensors. The volume of traffic notwithstanding, it was the fairest traffic systems I've ever seen.

    For example, if there are left turn lanes on opposing lanes at an intersection, and one of those lanes is empty but the other is full, when the lights turn green the left turn lane for the empty lane stays red and simultaneously turn the signal green for opposing straight-through traffic. Not only that, but the left turn signal would only stay green until the last car had cleared or until a maximum time interval elapsed, at which point it would turn red again and allow opposing straight-through traffic to flow. In fact, if there was no waiting straight-through traffic in the one direction, some lights would just stay green for the lanes that had it until a car attempting to cross the intersection would trigger a timer.

    Contrast this with, say, Edmonton, Alberta's dreadful traffic system, where nearly everything is on straight timers save for buses with road sensors and emergency vehicles, and there are no timing lights for freeway on-ramps. There are some sensors at some intersections, but by and large nearly everything is timed and it creates frustration and accidents. It's doubly ironic considering that Edmonton has the highest density of traffic lights in North America and traffic circles on major roadways!

    In other words, if you design your traffic system the right way the first time, devices like this become unnecessary. An economist once commented that traffic lights are a nearly perfect unbiased system for resolving conflict. Why create bias in favor of certain selfish individuals? It doesn't work in economies, and it doesn't work on roadways.
  • by BuckaBooBob (635108) on Sunday October 26, 2003 @09:55PM (#7316238)
    Still have problems with that idea... How many young highschool kids would think its cool and funny to sit on a hill top are a building top and keep signaling the lights red creating traffic jams. Price of these doesn't matter as car breakins are common so eventually a kid would get ahold of one and weak havoc.
  • Chrome Box? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by hazzey (679052) on Sunday October 26, 2003 @09:59PM (#7316253)
    I remember first hearing about these things about 5 years ago. Back then you had to build them yourself. They were called "Chrome Boxes" along the lines of all of the other phreakers tools. Just a little history.
  • by Satan's Librarian (581495) * <mike@codevis.com> on Sunday October 26, 2003 @10:11PM (#7316315) Homepage
    after I was spammed about this device... here's his response to me. Might be interesting...
    ------------

    Please let me explain a little about our web site and new product launch campaign.

    The web site should be very clear that we are looking for "dealers" to sign up and sell our new product. The site explains who the customers are, and the advantages of our new product.

    I am an electrical designer by trade, however the main focus of my business has been the sale and manufacture of firearms and accessories, of which we sell to Law Enforcement, Military and others. The idea for the development for this product came about from discussions I have had with our Law enforcement customers. They provided an explanation that many vehicles in there fleet are not equipped with traffic light preemption, because of the cost. The market is now dominated by 3M Corp. and they sell this technology for up to $5,000 per installation. I have applied my design back ground to offer an affordable solution to this problem.

    It took over 2 years of development and testing from outside labs to perfect this product. A substantial investment, in the multiple 6 figures has been expended. So now what do we do to "get the word out" we have several challenges. one is that 3M has factory reps all over the country, and we must establish our own rep network to promote our product. How can this be done? My answer to this was to hire 12 advertising executives with a budget of 100K per month to brand our name, to show our product, and to establish a dealer network quickly to provide maximum market coverage. The first phase was national branding, the second phase will be national TV news and talk shows.

    We have a unique product and we need to get the word out.

    Now, your view of what my company is doing is to sell to the public, please understand that every effort has been made to qualify what this product does, who will benefit from it and to find individuals interested in selling this item. I have chosen to do this in a bold way, which includes internet exposure to people in the trade (i.e. EMS, Law Enforcement, etc) and also to individuals that are interested in a unique business opportunity.

    When something gets advertised on the internet it seems it looses credibility, I understand this and am working hard to redesign the site to overcome this problem.

    Back to who we sell to and who we do not sell to. We require a legal agreement signed by a dealer, no one else in this industry requires this, after that we qualify the dealer to make sure we want them to represent this product. We go far beyond what is asked of us to qualify the dealer and NO individuals are allowed to buy this product for there own use. You and I both understand that this is not an option. We will not sell to individuals, even though there is no law preventing a company from doing so. We are trying to launch a truly revolutionary product, much different that what has been on the market for over 25 years. I feel great about this product having designed it myself and understand that it is truly a win solution for all involved. I can feel good knowing that my product will save lives, in two ways, one is that it will secure an intersection making it safer(plenty of stats available on this point from Federal ITC division) and two that it will allow first responders to get to where they need to be earlier than without this technology. For example, a heart attack victim has a diminishing chance of survival for every minute lost in response time.

    I'm sorry to make this so lengthily, but I feel a strong need to communicate these points to you, and if you would be kind enough provide me feed back as to where I'm going wrong with my presentation, what, in your mind would communicate this better?

    To wrap up, my policy is simple, if a dealer or end user uses this device improperly we will pursue immediate legal action, this cannot be allowed and won't be.

    Please respond as I would like your input.

    [deleted]

  • by niko9 (315647) * on Sunday October 26, 2003 @10:22PM (#7316355)
    Here are some of the vehicle traffic laws as they pertain to emergency vehicles here in New York State, other states are mostly similar.

    Only police department vehicles are allowed to proceed through red lights without stoping.

    EMS and Fire trucks have to make a full stop at every red light while going lights and sirens to a job, regardless of the priority.
    In reality, I slow down significantly and roll through at a cool 3-5mph.

    Lights and sirens for EMS and fire are a courtsesy. The guy in front of you is in now way obligated to blow a red light for you if he feels it's unsafe for him to proceed. Oh, and btw, if a medic or emt gets on the P.A. and tells you to cross a red light, and you get into and accident, the medic is at fault for the acccident.

    Going down one way streets and driving on the opposite side of the road are allowed, with the understanding that you do so at reduced speed and with extreme caution, any accident in this situation is all on your shoulders.

    Here in Manhattan, slow and steady is the best way. You can't justify injuring bystanders for someone who is already sick.
    And with critical patients in the back, you'll drive even slower to the hospital 'cause there's alot of things that we need to that can't be done if you're bouncing around the back cab like a virgin's first visit to some Panamanian wha wha rumphouse.

    These device have been mentioned here in the city, and it was agreed that it would cuase more confusion and possibly more liability for the city than it's worth.

    --
  • Saw one years ago (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 26, 2003 @10:23PM (#7316360)
    I guy I know built one of these devices several years ago. It had abourt 100 IR LEDs in it. He's open his sunroof and point it towards an interection. I was in his car once for a ride when he had it.

    First, it didn't always work. Those sensors are positioned to see the pulsing signal from a light on top of a tall vehicle, like an ambulance or fire truck. He had an ordinary car which meant it was a lot lower than it should be. The sensors seem to have a cone-shaped sensitive area which obviously narrows you approach the intersection. So as he got closer to the intersection, where the weaker light might have a chance, he'd usually be outside the sensitive cone shape.

    Second, it was hard to tell when it was working. We did get what seemed like an unusually large number of green lights... but it was hard to tell if the "go box" was triggering them, or if we were just getting lucky. In several cases, traffic was also flowing through the intersection the other way which meant it hadn't done anything. Apparantly, the lights turn red in all other directions.

    However, we did approach one intersection where there was absolutely no doubt it worked. The light was green, turned yellow, and then turned green again. That absolutely never happens under normal circumstances, and when I saw that I knew it did indeed do something. This interection was approaching the crest of a small hill, and it was complex with five streets (one at a funny angle). As we got closer, the light must have bounced off something else, because the obviously unnatural green light we got turned yellow briefly and then red. I don't know what the drivers saw in the other four directions approaching the interestion, but they must have seen something equally strange, because we sat there for a LONG time as did the cars in coming from the other directions. NOBODY was willing to drive into that interestion, because it was obvious to all the cars that the light was screwed up somehow. That's something that virtually never happens. Traffic lights are incredibly reliable (must not be running Microsoft's products). And when confronted with a screwed up light, nobody was willing to be the first to risk driving into the intersection, even as the controller recovered and started it normal sequence giving green lights. After about 10 minutes, people started to believe a green really was safe and we got to move forward. This was during rush hour on a very busy 4-lane road... so it must have caused quite a bit of traffic backup.

    Anyway, my friend's "go box" (as he called it) eventually stopped working. It was home made and it used massive power to turn on those LEDs. They were probably running many times over their rated current. He couldn't turn the switch on too long or it'd blow the fuse to his cigarette lighter. Apparantly he'd replaced the normal fuse with 30 amps which allowed it to run for a minute or so. The wires and everything else about it got really hot. So it's no wonder it stopped working after a while. He talked a few times about building a bigger and better one... but ultimately it was not worth the effort. It couldn't reliably trigger most of the lights. He had many other stories of turning a light green and being stuck behind someone who'd just stopped and wasn't paying attention to the light because it wasn't expected to turn green again for a while. He used to joke "you really also need the lights and siren to make the other cars get out of your way".

    Posting anonymously for obvious reasons...

  • by Avenger (3293) on Sunday October 26, 2003 @10:47PM (#7316443)
    OK, a few things here (and yes I have experience wiht this, only not with an ambulance, but with a fire truck, however the concepts are still the same.)

    First off if the ambulance driver is any good, he/she does not go full speed through a green light, or a red light, or a yellow light for that matter. If they are really good, they stop and make sure they have the right of way. Believe it or not, in most cases that have made it to court where an accident occured between a civilian and a emergency vehicle, the Emergency Vehicle driver was held accountable. This is true even in the case where the Ambulance had a green light to go and the ambulance was struck BY the civilian running a red light. (I don't remember the specific case but was taught to us when we took our driving course.) Personally I stop at every light, green or not and make sure that I have EVERYONES attention before going through an intersection. It is better to get my truck, and my fellow fire fighters there in one piece than to crash the truck and not get there at all.

    Another interesting point of fact, (at least in New York state) the flashing red lights give NO legal rights to disobey the speed limit. This is something I allways try and keep in mind, because you do kind of feel invincible when you are driving those big red trucks.
  • Re:Plans? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 26, 2003 @10:56PM (#7316468)
    I've had one for 2 years now... I built it... pic chip some pic asm with the sequences plugged in and $20 dollars worth of pepsi while sitting at on the corner waiting for the ems vehicles to pass by flashing there codes right into my transistors waiting for their juicy juicy codes... juicy codes... but I dye dress.
  • by crazyhorse44 (242315) on Sunday October 26, 2003 @11:22PM (#7316541)
    For a fact... in Los Angeles... the antiquated traffic control systems are not equipped to deal with these devices. I know... I used to install the traffic control systems and these things haven't been upgraded since 1972. And ever notice that every LA car chase has police running red lights behind the perp? Me too.
  • A different spin. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Matrix2110 (190829) * on Sunday October 26, 2003 @11:53PM (#7316658) Journal
    Where I live if you expect people to respect a red light you are mistaken. I am a very cautious driver and here is a reason why: I am sitting next to this impatient dude with a car full of people blaring the radio loud and obviously impatient sitting next to me in the front row in a double left turn lane. The speed limit for the cross traffic is 35. The light turns green. I wait to look off the possible approaches while Mr. Impatient hit the gas rather than look around. Guess what? MI did not see the red light runner that clipped the front bumper off of his car because somebody thought they could make the yellow-red.

    My spin is that if you look at the article you will notice that it changes the light immedietly.

    Having witnessed such a light change in person I noted it also cuts the yellow down to half a second.

    These devices are accidents waiting to happen.

  • by caitsith01 (606117) on Monday October 27, 2003 @12:01AM (#7316687) Journal
    "Speeding and running reds rarely gets you there faster."

    So your contention is that two objects travelling the same route, one going faster than the other, are likely to arrive at their destination at the same time?

    I understand that you are probably referring to the effect of red lights stopping all vehicles regularly and allowing the slower car to catch up, but they also have a corresponding inverse effect - if the faster car goes through a few seconds before a red light and the slower car has to stop, the faster car gets a huge boost as it now has up to 30 seconds or so where it is still moving but the other vehicle is stopped.

    I used to think that speeding wouldn't really help, but testing around my city to and from numerous destinations (admittedly without very good light synchronisation) has convinced me that speeding does pay. At the very least, you end up no worse off than a slower driver, except maybe in terms of stress levels and speeding fines... and the fact that noone wants to ride with you... and engine wear... and the chances of having an accident.

    But apart from those minor drawbacks, consistently driving 5-10 km/h above the limit certainly can get you to a destination quicker in my opinion.

    Nonetheless, planning a decent route is definitely the most effective way to go, I totally agree. Minimising turns across traffic and lighted intersections and maximising give ways, roundabouts and turns away from traffic can all make a huge difference.
  • OT: H2 Short Bus (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Latent Heat (558884) on Monday October 27, 2003 @12:04AM (#7316703)
    I don't get either the Hummer or the H2.

    I have seen these military convoys on the Interstate, and when most of us want to go 65 these guys are creeping along at 50. From the noise coming from the HMMV's, it sounds like these things are geared for off road use and that 50 MPH is about all those things can do on the highway. In the convoy there were all these poor dudes in HMMV's, and there were their officers riding in olive drap painted Suburbans (with 4WD hubs, but cruising comfortably in 2WD on the highway).

    Yeah, the military-style Hummer looks like one mean vehicle, and the civilian one is so wide it has to have those truck cab roof lights on it, and the people who own one thing they are hot sh*t like that California governer dude. But if I had to ride in a military convoy, would I want to ride with kids in the noisy, bumpy school bus, or would I want to ride with the teachers in the smooth, car-like Suburban?

    So then they come out with the H2, which is not really even a Hummer or anything like the HMMV -- the thing is a freakin' Suburban (or Tahoe or whatever) with some stupid looking grill on it to make you believe that Governer Arnold drives one of these things but he doesn't. But then a Suburban is a heck of a lot more comfortable than a Hummer, so why doesn't a person buy a Suburban rather than the Suburban which is styled to look like a HMMV, which is a vehicle on the same level as a school bus - something you don't want to ride in unless you are forced to by being one of the enlisted guys?

  • by OSSMKitty (125119) on Monday October 27, 2003 @12:11AM (#7316744)
    The city I live in is moving away from the pavement-embedded sensors to a system that mounts a low-resolution camera above the light (facing the oncoming traffic). The camera is connected to a vehicle recognition system that can tell if traffic is approaching.

    Supposedly, this system is cheaper (repairs don't have to tear up the pavement) and more effective for just the reasons you describe. Also, it solves the problems motorcycles have with being too light to trigger the pavement sensor. The govt. claims the cameras are too low resolution to be used as surveillance.

    They didn't say how well the cameras perform in heavy rain, snow or fog, however.
  • by name_already_taken (540581) on Monday October 27, 2003 @12:16AM (#7316760)
    Integrate the IR emmitters into the headlight assemblies, and turn the headlights on.

    The parts of the CCD elements where the image of headlights focuses in the cameras could be washed out with visible light and won't show the additional IR.

    I haven't tried it, but why not?

  • by aardwolf204 (630780) on Monday October 27, 2003 @12:28AM (#7316807)
    Whats next, some company starts selling beige boxes to the public with instructions on how to use them. How about a kit complete with 3/8" socket wrench and modified tone dialer (redbox). This is sick.

    I remember using these 'tools' back in the day when it was cheap thrills and soldering experience but now a days the only box I want is the one that gets 12v off ring and tip for power outages (forgot the color, anyone remember?)

    PS: #phreaks on dalnet was the shit in 1993 (pre-Hackers the Motion Picture). Wish I still had those logs.
  • by lunatick (32698) on Monday October 27, 2003 @01:23AM (#7317036) Homepage
    Ok let a Medic who has been using these devices for 15 years shed some light on this.

    there are a few different types of devices on the market for controling traffic lights.

    The idea behind them is to turn the light red in all directions but the one that the emergency vehicle is comming from. this way the vehicle can proccede unimpeaded through the intersection.

    Most at first just required a frequency (light or radio)at first. Most if not all now require a 2nd carrier wave with a ID broadcasted. So the sensor recieves the signal, then recieves the ID carrier then changes the light. if the ID carrier is not present it doesn't work. This was done to prevent abuse by emergency vehicles while driving around not on a emergency.

    So most people will buy these not read the fine print that a ID carrier must be installed for it to work in some areas then get pissed off at losing their money.

    BTW the system i have used is the 3M Opticom (TM) system
  • by crucini (98210) on Monday October 27, 2003 @01:41AM (#7317096)
    Well, police departments, or rather their vendors, already face these issues for encrypted radios. Typically a fixed key is used for a large group of radios for a period of time, loaded via a key loader box. Some systems allow OTAR - over the air rekey, where the new key is encrypted with (I think) the old key and broadcast.

    This problem is a little harder because an attacker could steal either the traffic light equipment or the vehicle equipment. The traffic light equipment is probably more numerous and vulnerable. Public Key crypto would be very useful here, because then stealing the receiver doesn't help you impersonate the transmitter. Unfortunately, it probably needs too many bits for the IR strobe carrier. So unless we "cheat" with a supplemental data channel or something, there's no good solution.

    Although - you could have an operational key (symmetric) and a rekey key (public key). The rekey box is guarded like the crown jewels. Once a month, or if the operational key is known to be compromised, you bolt the rekey box to the roof of a police car and drive slowly around town, pausing 60 seconds or so at each light. Enough time for the slow public-key transmission. Then you rekey all the vehicle units off the rekey box. Could work.
  • by TheMysteriousFuture (707972) <(TheMysteriousFuture) (at) (gmail.com)> on Monday October 27, 2003 @02:34AM (#7317253) Journal
    Anybody know of any Open Source traffic control system? I hear a lot of people complaining about how poorly many of the lights in their city work. Maybe "we" can do better?

    Would it be feasible to code such a system as an open source project? I guess I can't think of any reason why not. Just need enough volunteers with the appropriate knowledge.

    Then of course you'd have to figure out how you'd get anyone to use it... I suppose the best way (probably the only way) would be to start a company that manufactures the control hardware. Though it likely would be very difficult to break into what is I assume well established market.

    Ideas?

    Or maybe this is just a stupid idea...

    -future
  • Re:Except that... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by zurab (188064) on Monday October 27, 2003 @03:03AM (#7317332)
    I'd say that it should be very, very illegal for normal people to have these devices, perhaps you could give certain traffic lights a camera that snaps the license of whomever flashed it the "green" signal, therefore determining whom is making unauthorized use of the system


    The system is prone to abuse any way you cut it. You can easily make the use of these devices illegal by general public. You can even try to outlaw the devices themselves (although I doubt that would be successful). You can spend lots of money investing in technology, surveillance video, flash cameras, etc. in every intersection, try to determine who used the device and prosecute them, etc., etc., etc.

    In the end all it takes is a clueless pedestrian teenager with a device he assembled or purchased for $20, having nothing to do one (or many) afternoon(s) but watch how powerful he can be. It's a waste of tax money that would be better spent on more fire stations, emergency workers, and other methods of increasing the real response time.
  • by JumperCable (673155) on Monday October 27, 2003 @03:48AM (#7317426)
    Hmmm... I wonder if a programmable TV remote and recording an ambulance running through an intersection might provide you with the same tool?
  • by Rhys_Lewis (228576) on Monday October 27, 2003 @05:54AM (#7317695)
    Why not have a system where you pay as much as you like to whoever fixes/controls/maintains your local roads. You would have a box on your car that wirelessly beamed your ID number to traffic lights as you came up to them. If you were the only person at the intersection with a box, you would 'win'. If there were two people, then the one with the highest balance would win, if there were three, it would be the combined balances of the two going in one direction etc. And whatever money you donated would be reduced by 1/365 each day.

    All the money gathered would be put back into road maintenance/improvement.
  • Read-only lights (Score:3, Interesting)

    by StormReaver (59959) on Monday October 27, 2003 @12:02PM (#7319217)
    I would be very happy to have a device in my car that would tell me (and all those red light running morons) a traffic signal's current status and how much longer until the light changes status. While it wouldn't eliminate the more aggregious violators, it would give the law abiding drivers the needed information to plan their approach.

    I've seen several cases where drivers, in heavy traffic congestion, were paying too much attention to the light above them to notice the stopped car in front of them.

    I've also noticed lot of insane acceleration on the highways cutting through town when drivers see the green light a mile or so down the road. Many of them go from about 60 (the limit) to about 95 because (due to the road curvature before the light comes into view) they don't know how long the light has been green, and they smash the gas pedal in hopes that they can make it.

    Knowing the light's status and timing with certainty from an adequate distance would at least allow more informed insanity (where slowing down or keeping a legal speed would be more likely to place you at the next green light safely -- for yourself and the other drivers).
  • by jefeweiss (628594) on Tuesday October 28, 2003 @10:53AM (#7328015)
    Well, in the case I gave the light wouldn't ever change. There was one of those loops in the ground that is supposed to change the light when a car or something heavy stopped on top of it. But the loop didn't work. And the light wasn't on a timer. I once sat at the light for 5 minutes in the middle of the night. I think one car went by on the road going the other way. Five minutes is a LONG time to wait at a light in the middle of the night. I just wanted to see if it would change. Then I backed up 50 yards flashed my high beams and went on through the green light. So don't believe it if you don't want to, it's no skin off my back, but I believe it.

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