Vehicle: Traffic Light
Speed controlling lights   (+5)  [vote for, against]
If you go too fast the lights go red.

Even though lots of people get caught on speed cameras it doesnt stop anyone who wants to go faster than the speed limit. The problem is it takes 2 weeks for the fine to come through, so you often dont remember exactly what you were doing or why you were speeding, so you dont change your habits. We need to give people an instant punishment for speeding and i think this could be it. Most traffic lights have some sort of sensor under the asphalt so it knows if a car is waiting at the lights. If you put 2 of these sensors well before a set of lights, you could tell how fast someone was going by the time it took to move the distance between the sensors, and make the set of lights go red, forcing the car to stop. It would mean that the faster you go, the longer it takes to complete a journey. This could have the effect of actually changing the way people drive, if your in a rush you drive at the speed limit and you dont go over. If someone is speeding all the other drivers get pissed at him. Extra lights can be put up for pedestrians. nice
-- miasere, Mar 17 2003

Road Management System for Europe [oneoffdave, Oct 05 2004]

If you can make it work this is a great idea. +.
-- sambwiches, Mar 17 2003

absolutely. +
-- RockHopper, Mar 17 2003

I've seen signs claiming that such systems were in effect in Virginia or Maryland. I don't know how they worked, or if it was just an idle threat.
-- supercat, Mar 17 2003

Excellent idea. Just make sure that everyone knows that this is how traffic lights work, and that the two sensors are randomly spaced (to prevent people just slowing down a couple of hundred yards or so before they hit the lights), and you've got the ultimate traffic regulator. It becomes in everyone's own self-interest not to speed, no matter how much of a hurry they might be in. When traffic flows smoothly (not in the speed/stop cycle that most road systems lend themselves to), everyone wins.

Croissant, with sugar on top.
-- lostdog, Mar 17 2003

This would of course require emergency vehicles to be able to override the system.
-- sambwiches, Mar 17 2003

I guess a radio sensor could be mounted by the side of the road and another one in the emergency vehicle to de-activate the sensors. It could also be used to make the lights gree for the vehicle - just dont let anyone find out the frequency.
-- miasere, Mar 17 2003

I think your speed measurement would have to be radar. If a single car crosses pressure panels, you can determine its speed. But if there are several cars close together, I think it'd be difficult (impossible?) to separate the effects. In fact this raises another issue. Are you going to stop the law-abiding drivers too, just because a speed demon happens to be passing them as they approach the light?
-- beauxeault, Mar 17 2003

[beauxeault] - inductors (the things that sense if a car is at the lights - similar to a metal detector) could be used very easily by having one that starts a timer, and the next one stops it - by having the timer connected to a micro-processor, you can have many cars going across it at once. Its a similar (but Much more simple) set of programming to mobile phone fequencies being shared between phones. Also, the whole idea of the system is to stop the law abiding drivers aswell, as, like [gnomethang] said, its a Pavlov effect - Everytime you see a set of traffic lights, you slow down, cos you dont want to be the asshole who makes the lights red.
-- miasere, Mar 19 2003

I've heard that this is widely baked in Germany, too. Can anyone confirm? However it's such a bind-mogglingly brilliant idea that I'm going to take the unusual step of +ing just for bringing it to our attention.
-- egbert, Mar 19 2003

Ive heard of something else in Germany - when the lights are about to change it flashes up '50' sign at a certain point before the lights, meaning if you are going at 50kmph then you will get through the lights, and if you go slower, you will not.
-- miasere, Mar 19 2003

That doesn't make people speed up so they can make the light? Oh, that's right, you said Germany.
-- snarfyguy, Mar 19 2003

"Oh no, my wife is in labor and I'm in a hurry to get to the hospital but damn, I keep getting these frigging red lights."

-- waugsqueke, Mar 19 2003

So, your wifes having a baby, your stressed, your driving too fast - you can take 1 person out of the world the same day you bring someone into it!
-- miasere, Mar 19 2003

<sudden realization>I'm pretty sure every light in my town is rigged exactly like this. I always thought the guy that pushes the buttons to turn the lights red hated me.</sr>
-- Worldgineer, Mar 19 2003

//Most traffic lights have some sort of sensor under the asphalt so it knows if a car is waiting at the lights. //

Since when? I don't remember every intersection being dug up for sensor installation.
-- snarfyguy, Mar 19 2003

[snarfguy], they put them in when they put the lights in - its not a new idea.
-- miasere, Mar 19 2003

The main reason I put this up was because people see speed cameras as 'out to get them'. This means they tend to speed most of the time, try and slow down for speed camera signs, and when they get caught they complain for a bit, then shut up and pay the fine. The idea with this is that you get an on-the-spot punishment, and so does everyone around you. If you want to get through a set of traffic lights, and theres someone behind you (who may know the road perfectly and know that the traffic lights ahead dont have a sensor on them) trying to get you to go faster, you will still drive slowly and safely. Whilst traffic lights are already an irritation, this gives people someone to blame, which can help - its always worse when you cant say why something is irritating you.
-- miasere, Mar 19 2003

I think there is an important difference in the way people drive in different counties. I am in Australia at the moment and almost all the roads are large, multi-lane roads, meaning you can see well ahead. This means most obsticles can be avoided in light traffic, and in heavy traffic cars will be slowed down by traffic lights at some point anyway, without having time to speed due to the weight of the traffic (this is what i have observed, correct me if im wrong). In England, roads are much smaller and narrower, however, like you said before, people slow down if they are not used to a road. When people are used to narrower roads then they will drive too fast, and may not be able to react to an obsticle in time. In towns and cities (especially where road accidents are high due to speeding) people can be made to drive generally slower out of habit, so they dont get caught by the lights. This is where it can be made cost effective. Also in the UK the money from speed cameras is being put directly into traffic calming, and I think this is an appropriate alternative to cameras
-- miasere, Mar 20 2003

In the UK, there used to be more camera boxes than cameras (which were very expensive to buy and run). Nevertheless, they were set to flash whenever someone was speeding.

I remember pealing round the North Ring Road at a little more than the posted limit only to see the dreaded double flash behind me.

I never received a ticket, so it must have been a dud. Still, it slowed me way down for ages; as I didn't want to lose several blocks of points all at one go.
-- FloridaManatee, Mar 20 2003

A lot of urban traffic management systems already part-bake this. The phasing of the traffic lights on one of the main commuter routes in and out of Southampton is fixed so that once you have entered that road and maintain a steady 26-30mph you don't meet many red lights. This works fantastically well when everyone is doing the same speed but does fall down when there are faster and slower vehicles around as they get stopped by the lights and slow the overall flow of traffic. It's part of a Europe wide project called ROMANSE.
-- oneoffdave, Mar 20 2003

[sleepygrass] - this is already done in egypt. the problem comes when you are going at speeds around the speed limit, leading to a symphony 'o' pings. [unnabuba] - i have actually been caught by something similar - its a camera pointing at the lights so if you go through when the lights are red or amber it catches you. its designed to catch people jumping lights, but works when people speed through aswell (it came up with my speed on the ticket)
-- miasere, Mar 20 2003

//There's a rumour here at the moment that our state govt is about to install speed cameras, activated when lights turn amber, specifically to catch people speeding up to make it through lights.//

So the idea is to encourage a motorist who didn't notice exactly when the light turned yellow, but is too far along to be able to stop with certainty, to either continue at speed (possibly entering the intersection after the light turns red) or attempt to stop (possibly entering the intersection a couple seconds later--MUCH more dangerous).
-- supercat, Mar 20 2003

the timing of lights only works in medium traffic - in heavy traffic cars move too slowly, and in light traffic you can end up waiting for a light to change from red to gree whilst there are no cars going across the lights - this creates even more of an irritation. the idea with this is (if u read the previous comments) to make people WANT to drive, and to naturally drive (rather than to concentrate on driving) under the speed limit. speeding is a problem because the distances involved i stopping are increased, leading to more crashes.
-- miasere, Mar 20 2003

//[UB] Anno//

I have always had a problem with authority.

Your anno tempts me to build a low-riding SUV with a rear flubber-bumper and all round ABS and Brembo 15" disks. And _always_ stop for amber lights, no matter whether there's a tailgating scooter with half functioning a drum brake.

Amber lights are intended to improve safety through adding an element of subjectivity in the signal transition. If they wish to remove that subjectivity, let them!
-- FloridaManatee, Mar 21 2003

//Narrow the lanes, obscure the roadsides, put more breaks in the road kerb (driveways and pedestrian ramps). If people think they are more endangered they slow down of their own accord!//
They speed up - *oooooh, I'm Ricky Racer*
-- thumbwax, Mar 21 2003

crumbs - Is the extra cost due to the road works or from the networking/programming? British traffic lights are also networked, but have terminals beside all lights, and so i pressume the cost of the cable laying is reduced. also, from a proffesional perspective, would the system be able to opperate, in both heavy traffic (even if the result is just a lot of angry drivers who drive faster)?
-- miasere, Mar 24 2003

This would work perfectly in suburban communities around where I live (Ft Lauderdale, Florida) The police put out a device that displays your speed. If this device was attached to the traffic light, when a speeder was detected the device would signal the next treffic light and cause the light to go red. Most of the roads I am thinking about are sigle lanes, and run through residential communities.
-- senatorjam, Apr 20 2003

I am just being a pain. But, I ride a motorcyle and find that the Sensors hate me. The mass/wieght is too low to trigger the lights. So before setting the Lights how about fix the sensors. Mass and motion instead of weight to trigger them. Once the sensors are working then set the lights to trigger red on fast moving cars. What am I saying that means that those with Motorcycles could just blow through them without worrying about triggering the red light!
-- chu467, Apr 24 2003

Timed traffic lights are fairly common. I can think of about a dozen offhand. There's one in Vancouver, coming off a viaduct into the center of the city, that has about 12 lights set up for the timer. In fact, they're set up so that you have to speed a bit in order to keep up. I think this is to encourage the rapid dispersal of traffic into the downtown core, as there are only a handful of routes in and out.

In regards to the idea, there would have to be signage in order for it to be effective. If there was signage, most people would just slow down, then speed up again as soon as they were past the radar gun. They'd probably even speed a bit more to "make up for lost time".
-- rapid transit, May 21 2003

Fully baked! There are a few of these in Atlanta, in the Morningside/Emory area. If you go over 35 the light will change. However, if you go 45 you can breeze right through the light before it changes to red.
-- frakamazog, Jul 04 2003

Problem is, when I go faster the lights in front of me look bluer, not redder...
-- n-pearson, Jul 04 2003

I would like this to be like voting. When you see someone else being a jerk by cutting you off, then you can take a picture of their license plate, and from then on they wait 1 extra second at traffic lights. A person who is a real jerk would learn their lesson.
-- 0xdeadc0de, Jul 06 2004

I thought of this idea, searched and hey presto - bun
-- kmlabs, Jan 27 2005

random, halfbakery