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Safer Traffic Lights

Traffic Lights with Speed Sensors and Strobe Warning Lights
  (+2, -1)
(+2, -1)
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A few years ago, the Nat'l Transportation Safety Bureau spent significant money on trying to educate drivers (they probably still do) about the dangers of running red lights.

This is all well and good, but I firmly believe that all drivers know those dangers, and that the majority of (but, not all, of course) light runners (and subsequent accidents) happen not because drivers try to beat the lights, but because they were just 'spaced out' and didn't 'see' the red light at all.

This has happened to me (a very few times, without mishap, fortunately), I have seen people run red lights without accelerating, decelerating, or even looking around. In a couple of very memorable instances, I have seen light runners become suddenly aware of their transgression, get a sudden shocked look on their faces, and even pull to the side of the road (after exiting the intersection), presumably to collect themselves, say a prayer of thanks, or something.

No amount of education will ever solve these occurrences.

I propose to install stroboscopic warning lights above, or near, the existing red/yellow/green lights. These strobe lights would be activated by sensors which would be set to detect the excessive speed of a vehicle approaching a red light (a certain speed at a certain distance from the intersection: "This car is not likely to stop!").

The sensors would likely include both a radar transmitter and a receiver, mounted, perhaps in the same enclosure, on or near the traffic signal lights. They would look similar to existing devices and use some of the same--or similar--technology.

The resulting strobe light would (hopefully) catch the day- dreaming driver's attention in enough time for him/her to apply the brakes. If it doesn't, at least other drivers, upon seeing the strobe light flashing, would be made aware that someone is about to enter the area at an excessive speed.

Boomershine, Sep 11 2010

well baked http://en.wikipedia...#Strobed_red_lights
[squirrelecule, Sep 12 2010]

another variation http://www.elliotte...om/barlo_strobe.htm
[squirrelecule, Sep 12 2010]

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       One word: natural selection.
MaxwellBuchanan, Sep 11 2010

       [MB] Are you suggesting that all the individuals who might be killed (or rendering non-reproductive) by day-dreaming drivers ought to be removed from the gene pool?   

       I was thinking more about selecting my own fate (saving my bacon) here than about saving the DDDs.
Boomershine, Sep 12 2010

       The roads are dangerous enough without epileptic seizures [-].
Spacecoyote, Sep 12 2010

       //and even pull to the side of the road//   

       These are people who believe that they owe society a stop, doesn't matter when. I was behind a guy yesterday who stopped at a sign warning of an upcoming stop sign, stopped at the sign itself, and then stopped on the other side of the intersection for good measure. I wanted to shoot him.
ldischler, Sep 12 2010

       Baked (see link). There is one at a busy intersection near my office. I imagined it was on top of a school bus the first time I saw it, a closer look showed it to be part of the stop signal.
squirrelecule, Sep 12 2010

       Ok, conceded [MFD]. However, the significant difference in my idea is to get the attention of dozing drivers *who are speeding and not likely to stop*.   

       I read in Squirrelcule's first link that such lights are now prohibited in some places. Seizures, I guess?   

       I'm new to HB. Tough crowd. Funny, but tough....
Boomershine, Sep 13 2010

       //why not just delay the green ?   

       Because the day-dreaming drivers *are not noticing the light,* whether it's red, green, or yellow. The strobes are there to *get their attention*, which is the problem.
Boomershine, Sep 13 2010

       If, instead of a red light, the 'stop' signal was a massive concrete wall that rose up out of the road, I'm sure more people would notice it.
hippo, Sep 13 2010

       A wall is over the top, [hippo]. Spikes would suffice.
pocmloc, Sep 13 2010

       I've seen stop signs with LEDs around the perimeter that blink when a vehicle approaches. I've also seen traffic lights with strobes included in the yellow and red portions.   

       I like the addition of a speed sensor, but experience says that most drivers regularly exceed the posted limit by a certain socially-acceptable amount; the speed sensor would likely activate whenever traffic is not gummed up, and is therefore unnecessary. Just make the strobe activate at every light change.   

       But that's already baked.   

       [+] for a reasonable idea though.
Freefall, Sep 13 2010

       //most drivers regularly exceed the posted limit by a certain socially-acceptable amount...   

       That socially accepted amount is the amount that the law usually ignores, too (strangely enough).   

       When I suggested "excessive speed" I meant a speed at which the oncoming, dopey-eyed driver would not be likely to stop. (Actually, speed is almost irrelevant if the driver is not likely to stop.)   

       But, let's say that the lights start strobing if an approaching car is going more than X mph, Y feet from the intersection (these variables should be not be hard to calculate, I'm just too tired and lazy to do it).
Boomershine, Sep 14 2010

       Ok, NOT similar. But, my sensors would likely include both a radar transmitter and a receiver, mounted, perhaps in the same enclosure, on or near the traffic signal lights. They would LOOK similar to existing devices and use some of the same--or similar- -technology.
Boomershine, Sep 14 2010


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