(Mis)Uses of Technology

by Mike Masnick

Traffic Lights That Punish Speeders

from the reprogramming-those-with-lead-feet dept

Over in the city of Pleasanton, California, they're launching a new traffic light that detects speeders - and hits them with a red light. While plenty of lights have sensors to let them know when to turn green, this one is designed to cool off the speeders and slow them down a bit. It watches for speeders, and when they're spotted, it turns the light red, to make them slow down. Some are against this, but I can't see what they have to complain about, really. They're not getting fined. They're not getting pulled over. They're just being forced to stop at a perfectly legitimate stoplight.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    August Jackson, Apr 7th, 2004 @ 4:37pm

    This isn't new... or is it?

    There are actually two traffic lights (of which I know) in Herndon, Virginia that are announced by signs that tell drivers that the traffic light they are approaching will turn red if they are speeding. I've never been too convinced of the truth behind these signs, because whether or not they turn red or green seems completely arbitrary to me. I've slowed down to below the speed limit only to be stopped-- even when I'm the only car in the vicinity. I've also flown right by at speeds five to ten miles per hour above the speed limit and had the light remain green.

    But, yeah, if alll you've got to do is to wait at a light rather than get a ticket I would say you've got nothing about which to complain. In our nation's capital you get a ticket, eh. If nothing else you would know that there's no point in hurrying and you'll go faster if you mantain the speed limit.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 7th, 2004 @ 7:55pm

    No Subject Given

    I can think of two possible next steps.

    1) A light-running cmaera will be connected to the light Wham! instant $$$$.

    2) Some engineer in the Valley will figure out how to blind the camera to neutralize the light and the cold war will begin.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    bob, Apr 8th, 2004 @ 5:14am

    Not just the speeder

    While it seems reasonable that a speeder should pay the small penalty of an extra red light, what about anybody else on the road at the same time? Why should they encounter a red light that would have been green except for the behavior of another driver? It's like we're back in gym class when everyone had to run laps because the class clown did something that irritated the coach.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    August Jackson, Apr 8th, 2004 @ 6:13am

    Re: Not just the speeder

    Not an invalid point, but the other drivers DO benefit from an overalll improvement in safety on that road.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 8th, 2004 @ 6:53am

    No Subject Given

    now you've gone and turned a simple speeder and are turning forcing him into running red lights..

    could we perhapse raise the speed limit?
    nooo that would never work

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    mgallagher, Apr 8th, 2004 @ 6:57am

    I wonder about how this can scale up

    One of the big advantages to interconnected signal systems is to do signal coordination along heavily traveled corridors. I even helped design a system that would detect certain traffic-affecting factors and cause a series of signals to re-time themselves to accomodate road blockages.

    I curious about how having an individual signal break its coordinated timing plan to slow down a speeder would affect the overall efficiency of the corridor (Level of Service in traffic engineering speak). It is a neat idea, but I wonder about the unintended consequences. Urban signal systems can be surprisingly complex.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    slim, Apr 8th, 2004 @ 7:55am

    Re: I wonder about how this can scale up

    Uh ... dood ... the "unintended consequence" is that this light will NEVER TURN GREEN AGAIN.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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