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In-Car Traffic Lights

Intersection status displayed inside car
  (+7, -6)
(+7, -6)
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The continued presence of a problem has a tendency to inure one to it. So it is in the case of traffic lights, which doubtlessly serve a useful purpose, but nonetheless are a problem, in that they are really very ugly. They destroy the scenery, perhaps not in the U.S.A. where there is no scenery to speak of, but most certainly in quaint little European towns and villages. They also contribute to light pollution, which any astronomer will tell you is a serious threat facing civilization today.

Power cables and phone lines are buried underground. What can be done about traffic lights? The answer is to put them inside your car.

When you approach an intersection, a monitor -- perhaps a HUD (Head-Up Display) -- mounted within your vehicle will display either a green light, a yellow light, or a red light. You know what to do. If the light is red, you stop at the white line painted on the asphalt.

Needless to say, the information of whether a light is red or green is transmitted from each crossing. When cars come within a specified distance of a crossing, the information is manifested in the on-board display. Perhaps you could have two or three rows of lights displayed in your car, to indicate the current status of the next two or three intersections, respectively.

In addition to traffic light information, the on-board display could also provide information currently only available in the form of brightly painted metal plates on posts, such as 'Falling Rocks', 'No Overtaking', or 'Merge Left'.

The result: No ugly traffic lights anywhere. No more garish signs all over the place. And a much better world for film crews working on movies set in the Middle Ages.

Dr Furtz, Jun 07 2001

At the risk of seeming overly nationalistic about scenic America http://www.phototri...ery_0900.html#Begin
Just trying to help out the uninformed. One of many places on the 'net to see photos of scenic USA. [globaltourniquet, Jun 07 2001, last modified Oct 04 2004]

Auto Spidey Sense http://www.halfbake...to_20Spidey_20Sense
in-car display of info that goes beyond roadsigns [krelnik, Oct 04 2004]


       I think having two or three sets of lights showing the states of junctions ahead is tempting fate a little. Instead og traffic lights spoiling picturesque villages it would be mangled cars and rolling balls of oily flame.   

       Which reminds me of a the time my uncle pulled away when a light was red. The reason? He had a green sun strip fitted at the top of his window, it was the 70's so he can be forgiven.
Spidergoat, Jun 07 2001

       This makes a lot of sense, particularly the bit about other road signs. A <no passing> sign could toggle the required display which would only be untoggled by a </no passing>, whereas the traffic light indicator expires as soon as you've passed the intersection.
angel, Jun 07 2001

       I remember it, waug. I think it would greatly increase traffic accidents though. Traffic lights should be mapped to the intersection they go with, not to your dashboard or windshield.   

       Pedestrians would have a fun time trying to cross a busy street with this in place.   

       Plus, I do find it interesting that you were unable to find any scenery in the United States. None anywhere in the whole country, huh?
PotatoStew, Jun 07 2001

       USA. Scenery. See link.
globaltourniquet, Jun 07 2001

       Danger! Danger Will Robinson! I'd rather my disembodied car voice agree with traffic signals. I'd also like an insurance rate cut for installing this, and as a bonus it would be reason to turn down the entertainment system volume.
reensure, Jun 08 2001

       What PotatoStew said.
iuvare, Jun 08 2001

       Exactly where would this light be displayed? If it's just another dashboard light, it'll be like the other warning icons I ignore til something breaks down.Or could this flood the whole car with light,like the UFO sighting scene in Close Encounters of the Fourth Kind?
mcdornan1, Jun 09 2001

       Rods Tiger, that is an excellent question. The answer is quite simple however. Simply recall what you were taught when you were preparing for your Driving License Exam. When approaching an intersection lacking traffic lights (either without or within the car), what do you do? You slow down and look both ways. So if your in-car traffic light display unit breaks down, you will approach the crossing, and, not seeing any lights, slow down. Consequently you will either see that other people are waiting for you to cross, or that they are zooming across at mad speeds, which should help you decide what to do.   

       On the other hand, if the status transmission system at one particular crossing experiences a failure, nobody will receive any signal, and everyone will be rather hesitant, which is exactly what happens now.
Dr Furtz, Jun 09 2001

       Not only that, but what of the intersections where one street has the right of way (no traffic light), but a cross street has a stop sign (or flashing red light)? Drivers on the main road, approching the intersection and not seeing a dashboard light come on, would be wondering if it had broken. You would need to make every intersection have a dashboard traffic light show up to avoid this particular brand of confusion.
PotatoStew, Jun 10 2001

       Gentlemen, thanks to you my idea is now free of nits. Rods Tiger, if your in-car traffic light says green instead of red, you will not hesitantly wander into the intersection. You will crash into it headlong, resulting in twisted steel and mangled bodies. Displaying no signal is passive failure. Displaying an incorrect signal is active failure. To my knowledge the latter has never happened, anywhere. There is no logical reason why it should happen in your car, either, unless of course the software development is left to Microsoft.   

       Mr Potato Stew, there is no change in the status quo. The intersections you speak of have a right-of-way sign (in Europe, a yellow square standing on a corner, with a white boundary; in the US, the yellow square lacks the boundary but serves as the background to a black arrow pointing straight up). At intersections which lack this sign indicating priority, the lesser road is obviously narrower, or otherwise clearly inferior to the road with the right of way.
Dr Furtz, Jun 10 2001

       ...nevertheless, what say you about pedestrians?...
iuvare, Jun 10 2001

       So then, this is the procedure for approaching an intersection while driving down the road:   

       1. Notice the intersection.
2. Look at the dashboard indicator. If it's red, stop. If it's green, cruise on through, hoping that Microsoft didn't design any piece of the system. If neither is lit, proceed to step 3.
3. Since neither is lit, either the system is broken, or you have right-of-way. To determine if you have right-of-way, proceed to step 4.
4. Look for a yellow right-of-way sign. If it's there, cruise on through. If not, your system is either broken, or you have right-of-way. To determine if you have right-of-way, proceed to step 5.
5. Measure the width of the road you are on, and compare it to the width of the other road. If the other road is wider, stop, because you don't have right of way (or maybe the system is broken). If your road is wider, cruise on through, because you have right-of-way (unless of course the system is broken).
6. Pray that no one gets hurt.

       By the way, the sign you speak of in the U.S. is _not_ used to indicate right of way at intersections.
PotatoStew, Jun 10 2001

       Well, iuvare, the opportunities for creativity in extending new concepts to the guidance of pedestrians are boundless. Pedestrians could be invited to cross by a gentle disembodied voice, or perhaps by a woodpecker which pops out of a nearby artificial tree crying "You can cross now! You can cross now!" followed by the trademark woodpecker laugh. In countries which are not natural habitats for woodpeckers, I suggest animatronic cobras, cows, or whatever is suitable.
Dr Furtz, Jun 11 2001

       Now *that* part of the idea I like.
PotatoStew, Jun 11 2001

       so why not take your idea a step farther and actually have the car stop at a red light?Since you are already going to the trouble of sending traffic signals into the car (which in itself could be technically challenging) why not force the car to slow down and stop when the signal is red. that way we wouldn't have to pay attention to the stop lights at all. no lights and less distractions for drivers. You could create a seamless driving experince where you just put your foot on the gas and drive. if your car needs to stop fat an intersection it will gently slow down and stop (an added benefit for those that have a tendancy to give all passengers whiplash as they skid to a stop at the intersection)
borivan, Jun 12 2001

       No, no! Although your suggestion, borivan, is an extension of what is currently being pursued by automakers and at least one national government I know of, it would be inconvienent for drivers. Remember, you are allowed to go right through a red light as long as no vehicles are crossing and no police cars are in sight. (In some countries you also need to have your license plate covered with plastic or at an angle, to prevent being photographed.)   

       Speaking of brakes, Potato Stew -- Wouldn't the risk of failure of your in-car traffic lights (the responsibility of the driver, manufacturer or dealership) be similar to the risk of brake failure, which all cars already have? This is why governments mandate periodic inspections. I don't think we need be overly concerned with failure.
Dr Furtz, Jun 12 2001

       I don't know what you guys are worried about. The French operated their "Priority a droite" sytem for years. The mad citroen driver came tearing down a side street straight into the path of a giant fully laden truck on the main road...without even looking to the left to see what was coming. It worked fine. They even managed to switch systems for a happy weekend ten years ago when roundabouts went from give way to the right to give way to the left but no-one over 21 knew about the change.
prodriver, Apr 30 2002


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