Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Synchronize Traffic to the Intersection
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A series of yellow lighted markers embedded in the roadway, spaced at 1 second intervals, turn on in sequence to indicate you are approaching a traffic light that will be red when you arrive. By chasing the block of yellow lights you will arrive as the light changes to green. This would have the effect of forming traffic into platoons synchronized with the intersections, saving energy (that is wasted by stopping and starting) , increasing traffic flow (because moving vehicles spend less time in the intersection than stopped vehicles) and reducing accidents.

At intersections without traffic signals this same system could be used to alternate traffic such that east west traffic has intersection priority, then north-south has priority, making four way stop-intersections share these advantages.

To prevent accidents due to fixation I would place the lights down the middle of the traffic lane so they are covered up by any car ahead of you.

The idea of training should become obvious, if you are driving on yellow lights you are going to be sitting at the red light. That should be quickly understood. If the yellow lights pass you you have the option to speed up to make the light, or slow down and wait for them to pass you to make the next light.

This is an adaptation of rolling block signalling from railroads or synchronous PRT control

haywardt, Feb 06 2012

picture http://osc1.net/17roads.gif
sort of the idea [haywardt, Feb 06 2012]

non-stop traffic
[xaviergisz, Feb 07 2012]

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       This vaguely reminds me of the way railway signals work, at least here in the UK: very roughly, red means "stop", green means "full speed ahead", and yellow means "the next signal ahead is on red, so start slowing down and prepare to stop before you reach it".   

       Oh, and in another important difference to the roads: on the railway, red means "Stop. No, really, stop. If you don't, there'll be an inquiry, and you could lose your job." This is in contrast to the roads, where red means "Stop if you feel like it or you can see a policemen watching you."   

       (Edited to make a bit more sense - thanks zen_tom)
Wrongfellow, Feb 06 2012

       //This is in contrast to the roads, where red means "Stop if you feel like it and you can't see any policemen watching you."//   

       Hmm, that's not what it means here.
zen_tom, Feb 06 2012

haywardt, Feb 06 2012

       Nope. I hope that doesn't speak badly of the HalfBakery user interface.
haywardt, Feb 07 2012

       This could easily be baked with a simple GPS rethink. In fact you don't need constant real-time input from the stoplights. Just set them to a predetermined schedule, the GPS downloads the map/schedule for whatever area you are driving through and tells you to slow down or speed up to catch the next green with least lost momentum.   

       I have to agree with zen_tom though. Red light here means stop, no question.   

       One whole wheat sourdough bun, with real butter.
Psalm_97, Feb 07 2012

       As lights on the road I just don't think this idea would work. It's just too distracting and everybody will stare a the lights while they run over everything that gets itheir way. If the traffic lights could communicate with cars and create a "speed up now!" or "prepare to stop" indication IN THE CAR, then it might work. It reminds me a bit of chasing a glideslope indicator.
DIYMatt, Feb 07 2012

       The reward for not tailing the pack to make all the yellows is that, if you stop at the next light you are in the position to lead the pack, which is a more comfortable driving position. You can notice this effect on a road with synced traffic lights. The person at the back of the pack will run a yellow or two then resign to stopping and allowing the platoon to form behind him.   

       Thanks to everyone for the comments, I really appreciate it!   

       I am not sure that an indication inside the car is less distracting than one outside the car. While the idea is a novelty a driver might find himself staring at the road, I don't think you can equate this to less-safe than staring at the jogger running along the side of the road or the gps on the dashboard. In addition, only the lead car in the lane (and on occasion the last car, when it has fallen too far back) would see the lights, and that is only because he has no one ahead of him.
haywardt, Feb 08 2012

       Takes too much infrastructure. I still say a GPS rethink is the best bet. The basic idea is good though, and it would work.   

       Now I'm all impatient to see it in action... :/
Psalm_97, Feb 08 2012

       A GPS solution is in the oven. Portland has just such a GPS app and there are plans to grow across the country. There is a lot of talk right now about the concern of distracted driving and the potential danger, though I really don't think there is much data to determine either way.
haywardt, Feb 08 2012

       Autonomous cars will make this whole argument irrelevant.
pocmloc, Feb 08 2012

       Given that [haywardt] has accrued just six ideas and four annoes in the span of the last 8 years, I'd suggest it says more about the time-flow differential between our plane and his than it does about the Halfbakery user interface.   

       I'd try driving on this road. It's going to be scary at first though.
normzone, Feb 08 2012

       Its true, I am not here often enough. And it is not because the ideas are not worthy. Linkedin, wordpress, yahoo groups all keep me engaged in the conversation by providing an interface that doesn't require the level of dedication that halfbakery does.
haywardt, Feb 09 2012

       Im also just not that smrt. I don't come up with good ideas as often as the rest of you. I have to be happy with one good idea every 3 years.
haywardt, Feb 09 2012


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