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Adaptive modes for traffic lights

Dynamically controlled passive mode for traffic lights
  [vote for,

Traffic lights should dynamically monitor traffic levels and switch to a passive mode when traffic is not significantly congested. In passive mode, for the major road, traffic lights would either switch off or flash yellow (caution) and for minor roads they would flash red (stop/halt).

In this passive mode, traffic lights would not disrupt traffic with pointless red lights.

Passive mode would be applicable to traffic lights that are centrally controlled as well as standalone traffic lights.

Using monitoring of real traffic to control the mode would be better than using timers.

0ominous, Apr 17 2002


       Near my home there is a traffic light that does something like this. It is near a mall where the traffic is practically zero early in the morning. It just turns green as you approach as long as no cars are present on the cross street.   

       I have also seen one in Portland, ME (again near a shopping mall) that went to a flashing yellow/flashing red mode just as you suggest.   

       I haven't seen this on any major thoroughfares though if that's what you are proposing.
half, Apr 17 2002

       Isn't there some sort of 1/2B requirement that idea names be (or at least attempt to be) self-explanatory to some degree?   

       Oomnious, please rename this idea.
runforrestrun, Apr 17 2002

       we have on-ramp control lights (to alternate traffic entering the freeway) that only work at peak times, there are ground sensors that monitor traffice volume. some streets have lights that flash yellow one direction and red in the other during off -peak hours.   

       'fraid it is baked already.
rbl, Apr 17 2002

       [runforrestrun]: No requirement but, as a courtesy, it's nice to have somewhat descriptive idea titles.
bristolz, Apr 17 2002

       passive/aggressive lights
thumbwax, Apr 17 2002

       The 1/2B instructions use "coffee" as an illustration of an idea name so I assumed it had to be a single word. I'll try to change it.
0ominous, Apr 18 2002

       half_crazy, That's not quite good enough for me. Lights already detect vehicles and react to them. Usually the vehicles are forced to stop before the lights can react. What I'm suggesting is that the lights become more proactive so that they get out of the way completely if they are not helping. People can sort out low levels of traffic contention more efficiently and joyfully than lights.   

       I've got a light near me like the one you describe. It usually stops cars when there is no other traffic in sight. Then it lets them pass. It doesn't always react quickly.   

       rbl, Adaptive on-ramp lights are a good example and I'm suggesting the concept be applied to lights at most intersections. I'm under the impression that the on-ramp lights near me are not adaptive. Thay seem to be activated by time of day. They don't seem to vary the number of active periods per day. People can plan their trips to avoid them. Also, are the lights autonomous or are they part of a system? I'm suggesting autonomous intersections because that would be simpler, cheaper, and would not introduce some single point of system failure. Is the traffic flow that activates the lights monitored at the individual ramps or is it measured on the freeway/motorway? I guess that's not important as long as it works.   

       Your second example is better than always-active lights but it is controlled by time of day, not by current traffic loads. There are lulls during "busy time periods" while the lights needlessly delay traffic.
0ominous, Apr 18 2002

       :-) Now that is a name for an idea! Good job!
runforrestrun, Apr 18 2002

       Part-time traffic lights drastically increase accident rates. I can't find a link for this, but I have been told by experts.
stupop, Apr 18 2002

       stupop, That's my only reservation. If lights behave unexpectedly the confusion will cause accidents. However, why wouldn't people get used to these lights? Then they would be safe again. They would not be isolated temporary experiments.
0ominous, Apr 19 2002

       I meant to add: I'm not suggesting the lights turn completely off. They are not part time. I think that makes a difference.
0ominous, Apr 19 2002

       [Oominous], the light I was referring to does react quickly enough that I don't have to stop. That is, provided I'm driving the posted speed limit and there is no cross traffic.   

       I like it better than the flashing lights because the "user interface" is essentially the same regardless of the time of day or volume of traffic. Red means stop, green means go, yellow means go really fast.
half, Apr 19 2002

       half_crazy, That sounds good. I've never seen one like that.
0ominous, Apr 22 2002

       1/2b already - most stop lights go "on flash" during low vol traffic.   

       But if you've ever stopped at a light for a l-o-n-g time when there was no traffic in sight, it seems that we need a lot more of those sensors.   

       Croissant to you after 4AM.
blainez, Apr 23 2002


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