Pictures | PhotoFill News | Search | About Me

« November 2007 | PhotoFill News Home | March 2008 »

   01.11.08 || Stop Lights

Well I would say Happy New Year, but that is old news now, only 11 days late.

This post has had a long time coming:

Being I’m a late person and tend to be out late at night, like say, after 11 PM, when the traffic is basically nothing, I cannot stress how much I hate traffic lights. They are stupidly designed, horrible in the way the sense when you are there, and always turn just before you get to them. At least they do for me.

I don’t understand how we can have cars that have advanced control systems, smart tuned engines that require the computer to be there and tell them if anything is wrong, and shut down if there is something wrong. The car knows if there is someone in the passenger seat, knows weather or not to turn on the airbag, knows if you are spinning out and corrects your dumb driving to get you back driving in a straight line.

Advanced cars, advanced computers, in the world of computer controlled everything how have we forgotten about stop lights?

Lets say your driving down a 4 lane road, a main drag, basically no one on the road, (it is late remember, maybe 11:30 PM), coming up to a green light.

Guess what, you found one more person on this lonely road, and they are coming up the side street. In about 4 seconds you would be through the light, but NO, it turns right at that point where you would have to floor it to make it through (and hope that other person is not a cop ready to pull you over for speeding) or you would have to run the red light.

Not only do you have to urgently stop, this person coming from the side road just wants to turn right. He doesn’t even have to stop for the right turn, and is long gone, and there you are sitting at a red light with no one else around.

This is when you have the time to think, “NO one else is coming, why is the light not changing?!?”

Then you realize that only if the light had stayed green for 4 more seconds you would have been through the intersection and the other person would have made their turn, not even waiting 2 seconds.

Well, this seems to happen to me all the time, I don’t understand why we cannot make lights that are more intelligent and not turn the instant a person comes up the side road, especially when there is a break in the traffic that has the green light.

This brings up many issues: Traffic Backups, Gas Mileage, and travel times.

Given I’ve had a real job now for a couple years and get to drive back and forth to work, I see more how traffic works, how to improve it, and well, just where the shortcuts are, which usually include just avoiding as many lights as possible.
-- That’s a good note, ever realize that? Look at many shortcuts people take in their daily commute, does it involve avoiding a traffic light? Well, for damn good reason!

So intelligent lights could allow more time for traffic to get through the light, and allow more than 3 cars through each green light, prime example of this is going westbound on Devon coming up to Arlington Heights road, for those in the NW Chicago area. This light is so quick only 3 cars (or 4) can get through the light, given why there is such a backup.

Oh, and here’s a good example of avoiding a light, I call it the business park shortcut, just because Hamilton Pkw is a business park area and is a great shortcut to get on the Elgin O’hare Expressway heading west, to avoid that light at Rohlwing and Thorndale.

Fewer backups mean better gas mileage, as well as my scenario I described earlier. When I have to abruptly stop like that, that means I have to accelerate again, which only causes me to use more fuel. The government needs to do something about this, don’t just make laws about our cars emissions, make laws to reduce reasons we need to produce emissions.

Some areas have timed lights, when this is done correctly, it works, problem is it seems that most lights are not intelligently timed, only on a 2 minute this way 2 minute that way timing. You’ll really notice this on those “turn arrow” turn lanes; you’ll sit there for a few minutes.

There are many more scenarios and examples I can give, but I think we get the idea; stop lights need lots of improving. Maybe I should have gotten into Civil engineering rather than Mechanical. Either way, maybe you can also see how easily traffic lights could be improved.

Permalink | Comments (0)