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Failsafe Stop Lights

Traffic Lights display indicator during power outage
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Too often this time of year in the midwest we lose power to traffic lights during storms. Since the problem may only affect one traffic light in the area, it is easy for people unfamiliar with a route to not see the stoplight altogether when it is dark outside.

This would provide a failsafe mechanism to display a stop sign when the power goes out.

Inside each light would be a spring-loaded sign, something like the old play guns that would pop out a "bang" sign. The door to the sign is held closed by an electromagnet. When the power goes out, the electromagnet releases and the spring pops the sign out -- a highly reflective stop sign. The traffic light technician could re-arm the contraption when she arrives to fix/reset the system.

davinic, Jun 13 2004

(?) Roundabouts: http://www.wodka-apfelsaft.de/chaos.jpg
The perfect solution. [Amos Kito, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 05 2004]

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       Yes, but where's the novelty in that??? :)
davinic, Jun 13 2004
  

       Baked. In Australia the traffic lights flash orange when there is a power outage. (I assume they have emergency batteries)
simonj, Jun 13 2004
  

       A simple mechanical system beats a battery any time. I have seen to many failed batteries already.   

       No need to send a person to reset the back up sign manually. An electro magnet can pull it back in when power returns.
kbecker, Jun 13 2004
  

       Welcome to the bakery, davinic. (WTAGIPBAN)
krelnik, Jun 15 2004
  

       Why does the technicial have to come out and sort it. Surely when the power comes back on the magnet can just suck in the arm. It is such a cheap solution it has to deserve a bun.
PainOCommonSense, Jun 15 2004
  

       Good idea, but unfortunately baked. Not everyone knows about it, though, but here's an example:   

       In West Virginia, every stop light that is funded in part or maintained in part by the state Dept. of Highways has a 2-day battery for just such an occasion as a power outage.   

       Funny, since this is a state that can't afford to educate its citizens with good textbooks or in good buildings, but damned if they won't put an extra hunnert-and-fitty bucks into every stoplight.
shapu, Aug 18 2004
  

       if $150 per stoplight saves the cost of just one emergency service call to replace or repair a busted one, it's paid for itself already. Money well spent.
Freefall, Aug 18 2004
  

       Alternatively, learn to use roundabouts (I believe you colonial types may refer to them as "rotaries). Many other countries do so highly effectively in place of 4-way junctions and they need no traffic lights at all. Spiffing!
DocBrown, Aug 19 2004
  

       //they need no traffic lights at all.//   

       Except when they're busy, in which case they are terrible with lights. And they're more dangerous to boot.
Cats Whiskers, Aug 19 2004
  

       I laugh in the face of danger! You do have a good point though [Cats Whiskers] - roundabouts can be a drag when they're slow.   

       I think there is room for a mix of the two solutions personally, don't see why it has to be one or the other.
DocBrown, Aug 19 2004
  

       How about a roundabout on an electromagnetic spring? It pops up when the power fails, thus converting the traffic lights into a roundabout.
Ling, Aug 19 2004
  

       [shapu], are any of these stoplights named after Senator Robert Bryd?
GenYus, Aug 19 2004
  

       No, we don't name stoplights after people. Just colleges and FBI labs and high schools and elementary schools and statues and memorials and airports and lengths of highway and streets and hotels and suites.   

       But not stoplights.
shapu, Aug 19 2004
  

       It would be funny to apply this to air conditioners, too. When the power goes out, a spring-loaded fan (the cardboard, pleated kind) pops out of the A/C and starts fanning you.
phundug, Jul 30 2007
  

       When I saw the title of this on the 'recent' page, I thought it was something else completely: a suggestion to use those 'anti-back-up' tire knives like they have in rental car parks, except facing *towards* the traffic at stop lights. Then they pop up into 'armed' mode when the lights are red, to stop people running the lights. Would be quite effective after the first few weeks I would imagine :-)
gtoal, Aug 01 2007
  

       //I thought it was something else completely//   

       Ditto, I pictured a spring loaded wall that would pop-up ala bank teller security screens.
sprogga, Aug 04 2007
  
      
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