Traffic Lights

As I am in the middle of a nice 4 day new year’s holiday break, thoughts always turn away from the everyday work to more intersectiontedious ones.  I am concerned about the time I spend everyday just sitting at traffic lights.  It is one thing to be in the stream of traffic and need to stop to let other traffic pass safely.   But when nothing is coming for miles or just one car passes by then nothing for the next several minutes, I consider it wasteful that I am sitting and waiting.

Just down from my house I have a major intersection (OK major enough for Salem).  They just recently had the whole thing under construction to install really big poles and little tiny cameras.  OK wonderful – keeping me safe as big brother keeps an eye out. 

But here is the point…. with all the wonderful and amazing technology in the world could some smart traffic engineer not be able to “see” with those new cameras and coordinate traffic accordingly?   Seems to me that the right hand is not talking to the left hand. I saw a neat camera the other day that has face recognition incorporated into its programs.  See a face and zooms it into focus.  Could this not be done to recognize vehicles? moving objects?

That is exactly what architects and engineers were in the habit of doing until the very end of construction documents to only then discover the collisions in many of the building’s systems.  Now the LEED coordination and othertraffic_lights1various 3d programs enable the teams to act more like a team and not get into those situations in the first place.  A project that incorporates LEED fully from the conceptual phase is most likely to have a holistic well coordinated building in the end.

Didn’t years ago every intersection have a sensor to detect when traffic approached?  Granted motorcycles, and probably smart cars today, would never trip the senors.  But I am sure that technology has improved with all the smart traffic engineers out there today.  So what happened to the sensors?

Shouldn’t this be the case everywhere?  Traffic light should coordinate with traffic, Empty parking spaces should communicate with parkers (Oh wait that is happening), elevators should know when someone wants a ride (oh wait this is happening too), 

Time spent at traffic lights should be minimized by “smart lights”…. we have that technology don’t we?  Wake up traffic light industry and the communities that support them!  You are wasting my time, my gas and helping to pollute the world by having me sit at a red light to watch nothing go by.

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2 Responses to “Traffic Lights”


  1. 1 Robin Capper January 3, 2009 at 10:23 pm

    I use the time at Traffic light thinking random “Traffic Light Thoughts”…

    http://rcd.typepad.com/personal/traffic_light_thoughts/

  2. 2 kim327 January 4, 2009 at 7:36 am

    Excellent use of that annoying down time. I like the autocad car.


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