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Midwest Seeing Red Over 'Green' Traffic Lights

CmdrTaco posted more than 3 years ago | from the do-you-see-what-i-see dept.

Power 839

theodp writes "Many municipalities have switched to LED traffic signals because they burn brighter, last longer and use 90% less energy than incandescent bulbs. But they also emit less heat, meaning they sometimes have trouble melting snow, causing problems across the Midwest. In Wisconsin, snow blanketed LED traffic lights in some towns, leading to crashes at intersections where drivers weren't sure whether to stop or go. The unintended consequences of the green technology were also identified as a 'contributing factor' in the death of an Illinois woman hit by a driver who blamed the snow-covered energy-efficient signal for giving the appearance of a normal green light instead of a left-turn signal. 'We can remove the snow with heat, but the cost of doing that in terms of energy use has not brought any enthusiasm from cities and states that buy these signals,' said the CEO of an LED traffic-signal manufacturer. 'They'd like to be able to take away this issue, but they don't want to spend the money and lose the savings.' In the meantime, some towns are addressing sporadic problems by dispatching crews to remove snow or ice from signals using poles, brooms, and heating devices." We were discussing these recently at the office — several folks in the building are red/green color blind and different street lights are differently distinguishable.

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Too bad we don't have rules to deal with this (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#30593428)

Oh that's right... we do! If you get to an intersection and the light isn't working or isn't visible, you treat it like a four-way stop.

Re:Too bad we don't have rules to deal with this (5, Insightful)

nschubach (922175) | more than 3 years ago | (#30593528)

I thought of this, but in the snow cover situation, only one side thinks it's a four way stop. You'd have to have a "snow sensor" and shut down all 4 sides of the light for that to work.

Re:Too bad we don't have rules to deal with this (4, Insightful)

i.r.id10t (595143) | more than 3 years ago | (#30593856)

Or have a snow-sensor and kick on a small heating device...

Sure, you are using more N-R-G by creating the heat to do it with so the technology is less green, but even this southern non-snow savvy guy realizes that using *some* N-R-G during a few months of the year to de-ice/melt/whatever is better than creating waste heat with inefficient lighting 24/7/365

Besides, what is the "green" cost of a car accident where oil, gas, battery acid, etc. may be spilled, as well as emergency vehicles cranking up and running to the scene, etc?

Re:Too bad we don't have rules to deal with this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#30593926)

Perhaps they should design/build the signal as a whole, such that snow cannot cover the lights. For example, add a kind of roof. Or coat the lenses with transparent Teflon. Even building in a thermostat to turn on a heater to keep the lenses at 33 degrees F could work...

Re:Too bad we don't have rules to deal with this (3, Informative)

Carewolf (581105) | more than 3 years ago | (#30593546)

What do you do if only part of the lights were covered, especially if the parts covered are extensions such as no left-turn? I know it is much to ask, but as minimum, maybe you should Read The Fucking Summary.

Re:Too bad we don't have rules to deal with this (1)

clang_jangle (975789) | more than 3 years ago | (#30593602)

The law is far too lax when it comes to issuing driver's licenses. I'll never forget years ago, when I went to take the written test I nervously asked the examiner "how many questions am I allowed to miss?". The answer was 12 ! That's 12 out of 78. No wonder people get confused as soon as the expected routine changes in even the smallest way.

Re:Too bad we don't have rules to deal with this (2, Interesting)

Microsift (223381) | more than 3 years ago | (#30594006)

I agree, I haven't taken a written driving test in over 15 years. When I did take the test, one of the questions was (paraphrasing) "How often do you have to get your license replaced." What a ridiculous question (give me my license and I'll read the answer off of the front). I wonder what real question got crowded out by this irrelevant question (If it's not obvious, I missed the question).

Re:Too bad we don't have rules to deal with this (5, Funny)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 3 years ago | (#30593644)

If you get to an intersection and the light isn't working or isn't visible, you treat it like a four-way stop.

He did - he went straight through just like anyone driving a Dodge RAM does.

Re:Too bad we don't have rules to deal with this (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#30593650)

How about just making them so the circular face of the light is angled downwards, most snow wouldn't stick. I.e. |=/ (front)

[note the actual back panel isn't angled downwards just the clear glass/plastic frontage)

If the snow does stick in that configuration then I think you have more to worry about than just difficulty in reading the traffic lights!

Re:Too bad we don't have rules to deal with this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#30593770)

In the midwest snow falls both ways. (well it does during a blizzard.)

OF course in bad weather situations you are supposed to drive carefully, after all the other driver may be the one that is supposed to give way, but may be unable to stop due to lack of traction.

Also you may not be able to see what cross traffic there is due to snowbanks.

Re:Too bad we don't have rules to deal with this (4, Insightful)

BoneFlower (107640) | more than 3 years ago | (#30593666)

The problem is, this doesn't just cover the light,it apparently also can make a signal appear to be something it is not.

This is a severe problem. If they were simply obscured, you are right, fairly easy to deal with. But if they appear to not be obscured, but the snow causes misinterpretation as apparently has happened, bad things will happen that are not the fault of the drivers, but the idiots who installed these systems without the manufacturers option for a heating element.

Re:Too bad we don't have rules to deal with this (1)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | more than 3 years ago | (#30593688)

One of my many angers when it comes to others and their lack of knowledge about traffic laws is this.

Luckily, where I live now they seem to understand the four-way stop law. However, in Indianapolis if a traffic light goes out everyone seems to think that the "larger road" has the right of way. Try to follow the law and you get flipped off almost instantly.

One of the most basic emergency rules and no one there can seem to remember it.

Re:Too bad we don't have rules to deal with this (0)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 3 years ago | (#30593858)

OK, but the simple truth is that many people can't handle the rules of precedence at a simple four-way, multiple-lane intersection. They start to think that they always have the right of way over someone who arrived there after them, which just ain't the case.

Re:Too bad we don't have rules to deal with this (1)

guruevi (827432) | more than 3 years ago | (#30593774)

I really hate the 4-way stop in the USA. In Europe there is no such thing as a 4-way stop, you have 2 stop signs in one direction and 2 yield signs in the other direction.

If 4 cars (or 2 or 3 for that matter) come to the intersection at the same time, who goes first? Unless you have a very precise clock you can't really figure out who goes first. The rules get really complicated at that point, you have to give priority to the right (2 cars), you have to give priority to the direction with the most cars (3 cars) or use hand signs and other forms of communication (4 cars). The latter off course is the main cause of accidents. The hand signs don't really get communicated well (especially if your windows are frosted or snow covered) and in court nobody can prove anything about who did the right thing. Also, I have never had any driving school, class, book or test that even covers these rules.

Re:Too bad we don't have rules to deal with this (1)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | more than 3 years ago | (#30594028)

Usually in the case of 4 cars, the hand signs involve the use of one finger.

Re:Too bad we don't have rules to deal with this (1)

Cerebus (10185) | more than 3 years ago | (#30593884)

...and the light on top (vertical hang) or to the left (horizontal hang) is *red*. That's actually law too, IIRC.

Re:Too bad we don't have rules to deal with this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#30593930)

foo

Re:Too bad we don't have rules to deal with this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#30593944)

Color blind people drive, what is wrong with the rest of you?

eat my shorts slashdot !! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#30593434)

Eat my shorts slashdot !!

Re:eat my shorts slashdot !! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#30593946)

BTB. No, not "Business To Business" (although in a sense it is that), I'm referring to Biting The Brown. Tossing Salad. Going down on the brown. Mouth-To-Ass. Read the wikipedia page on rimjobs. Not the article, the discussion. A handful of editors have decided that there's no such thing as "biting the brown" and delete any reference to it. Sorry jimbo, I'm not giving you jack shit while shit like that is going on.

Is everyone asleep ? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#30593448)

0 Comments ?!?

Re:Is everyone asleep ? (-1, Troll)

arpad1 (458649) | more than 3 years ago | (#30593642)

The greenie-weenies just hope this further bit of evidence of their fecklessness will go away if it's ignored and the adults understand no further comment is necessary.

Solvable. (0, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#30593456)

Oh, I thought the law was clear - when the signals are obscured or not working, stop at the intersection and then proceed as per a normal crossroads.

Green lights are actually quite blue so that R/G colourblind people don't have problems, this shouldn't be an issue with the LED lights either.

Adding a heating circuit that only operates when cold is still more efficient than the old bulbs - it's only on for a portion of the year, and it's more efficient at turning energy into heat.

Re:Solvable. (5, Informative)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | more than 3 years ago | (#30593548)

Oh, I thought the law was clear - when the signals are obscured or not working, stop at the intersection and then proceed as per a normal crossroads.

In the Illinois case, the green arrow was obscured just enough to appear to be a full green.

Re:Solvable. (1)

nschubach (922175) | more than 3 years ago | (#30593656)

Not to mention, usually only one side is obscured, so how are you to know when it's your turn to go if the light it completely covered? Sometimes the intersection is clear because the light cycles through a side that has no cars so it may appear that it's your turn.

How do you cover an arrow... (1)

Animaether (411575) | more than 3 years ago | (#30593818)

http://www.worldofstock.com/slides/MES2459.jpg [worldofstock.com] ...to make it appear as a circle, exactly?

Unless the driver was saying "you know, I couldn't make out the shape at all.. it just looked like -a- green light, and that was good enough for me", of course.

Re:Solvable. (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 3 years ago | (#30593828)

In the Illinois case, the green arrow was obscured just enough to appear to be a full green.

That would be impossible if the green arrow is arrow shaped; you can mask off parts of a circle to make an arrow or a bar but not the other way round.

Re:Solvable. (1)

CoreDump (1715) | more than 3 years ago | (#30593978)

Except that in a 5 light cluster, the bottom lights are always the TURN ARROWS. Green Light is always the 3rd from the top.

And even if it is green it does not mean you are clear to plow through with reckless abandon. Green means that you are clear to proceed through the intersection as long as it is clear of obstructions ( like other cars, pedestrians, etc. ).

Re:Solvable. (1)

Carewolf (581105) | more than 3 years ago | (#30593604)

it's only on for a portion of the year, and it's more efficient at turning energy into heat.

First part is the correct answer. The second part is really stupid. Ask yourself: Where does wasted energy go?

The answer is that waste energy is heat. Light bulbs are 100% efficient when the heat biproduct is also used.

Re:Solvable. (1)

iksbob (947407) | more than 3 years ago | (#30593830)

Yes, but incandescent bulbs have no means of regulating how much heat they release, resulting in waste. A separate heating element can be switched or regulated independently from the light, based on a thermostat of some sort. That way, just enough energy is used to keep the lens above freezing, minimizing waste. One could even add a relatively inexpensive set of photo cells to measure the amount of light being reflected back at the lamp, so that the heater only kicks on when snow buildup is actually present.

whatever happened to being careful? (3, Insightful)

alen (225700) | more than 3 years ago | (#30593466)

idiot driver should be prosecuted since everyone knows the third light from the top is regular green and not a turn signal. i've seen intersections with broken lights before and people are very careful when they go and make sure the other guy is going to yield.

some people are always in a constant state of hurry and can't seem to wait a few seconds

Re:whatever happened to being careful? (-1, Troll)

Krneki (1192201) | more than 3 years ago | (#30593582)

Being stupid is a right in the US of A.

Re:whatever happened to being careful? (2, Insightful)

nschubach (922175) | more than 3 years ago | (#30593752)

It's apparently not an exclusive right of the US of A.

Re:whatever happened to being careful? (1)

Krneki (1192201) | more than 3 years ago | (#30593988)

It's apparently not an exclusive right of the US of A.

Sadly it's becoming a more important right then Internet access.

Re:whatever happened to being careful? (2, Insightful)

CrazyDuke (529195) | more than 3 years ago | (#30593710)

It's not always that they are in a hurry. It's often just a plain old sense of entitlement.

Re:whatever happened to being careful? (1)

gbjbaanb (229885) | more than 3 years ago | (#30593750)

It's not always that they are in a hurry. It's often just a plain old sense of entitlement.

It's not always that they are in a hurry. It's often just a plain old sense of selfish, anti-social arrogance.

Re:whatever happened to being careful? (1)

nschubach (922175) | more than 3 years ago | (#30593782)

These are the same senses that dictate to them their importance in a merge as well.

Re:whatever happened to being careful? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#30593720)

Not always. One light in particular is bass-ackwards [wikipedia.org] .

Re:whatever happened to being careful? (1)

Chaos Incarnate (772793) | more than 3 years ago | (#30593866)

Umm... you must have some screwed-up traffic lights where you are, relative to around here. The turn signals replace the third light in my area, not supplement.

Parallel Yellow / Green (1)

autocracy (192714) | more than 3 years ago | (#30594020)

__R__
LY NY
LG NG

That's a common traffic light configuration for a left-hand turn light in addition to a normal light. (L / N stand for left / normal).

__R__
NY RY
NG RG

That's a common traffic light configuration for a right-hand turn light in addition to a normal light. (N / R stand for normal / right).

If they were obscured in a diffuse manner, perhaps you can see the issue that arises for somebody unfamiliar with the intersection.

what an elegant phrase (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 3 years ago | (#30593468)

different street lights are differently distinguishable.

If they didn't look different, you wouldn't be able to distinguish them.

Good Advice (5, Insightful)

Frigga's Ring (1044024) | more than 3 years ago | (#30593470)

In Wisconsin, snow blanketed LED traffic lights in some towns, leading to crashes at intersections where drivers weren't sure whether to stop or go

If you're not sure to stop or go, the answer is "stop". I can understand if it's dark and you don't see the traffic lights because they're covered with snow, but if the lights at the intersection aren't working, that doesn't mean the light is green. It means stop and go when it's safe to.

Re:Good Advice (4, Funny)

alen (225700) | more than 3 years ago | (#30593598)

God forbid someone spends an extra 10 seconds waiting. it will ruin their whole day

pls (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#30593474)

someone is just looking for a scapegoat. see a light standard, no signal/flashing YOU STOP

Cover the fronts? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#30593482)

If only there was a slick clear material http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glass [wikipedia.org] we could put over the front of these round tube things depicted that snow wouldn't be able to adhere to

Re:Cover the fronts? (1)

nschubach (922175) | more than 3 years ago | (#30593562)

Glass? Does this glass differ from the type of glass found on cars because I can assure you that snow sticks to glass.

Re:Cover the fronts? (1)

navygeek (1044768) | more than 3 years ago | (#30593606)

And what about the ice and freezing rain genius?

Re:Cover the fronts? (1)

oldspewey (1303305) | more than 3 years ago | (#30593718)

I don't know about you, but I've seen snow (and especially ice) stick to glass pretty good. If you lived in the north you'd know from cold, cold experience what it's like to spend half an hour scraping and clearing your car windows.

heating element (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#30593488)

why not include a heating element within the lamp that will only turn on when it's ~35F or below? That way you get the best of both worlds?

Re:heating element (1)

nschubach (922175) | more than 3 years ago | (#30593580)

From the summary:

'We can remove the snow with heat, but the cost of doing that in terms of energy use has not brought any enthusiasm from cities and states that buy these signals,' said the CEO of an LED traffic-signal manufacturer.

Re:heating element (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#30593910)

Windows Devs: Please stop using MSI installers. I hate having to find the install files to remove programs.

Dear Windows User: We've been coding the same brain-dead way since the days of DOS, and we're not going to change just to please one obsessive-compulsive user. If you don't like it, buy a Mac or learn to use Linux.
Sincerely,
The Windows Devs

Re:heating element (1)

nschubach (922175) | more than 3 years ago | (#30593980)

I do use Linux, except for the cases where my work demands I use Windows... since I like to keep my hard drives clean, having a folder full of MSI files in /WINNT/ is not my in bag of nuts.

Re:heating element (1)

tg2k (895772) | more than 3 years ago | (#30593670)

If the lights are networked, you could just send a signal to all or a group of them to turn on the heating elements whenever it is snowing.

Or, if you can somehow detect the snow, you could fully automate it. But doing it purely based on temperature would be wasteful because a lot of the time you have cold without snow.

Lots of lights have nearby cameras (whether for catching people running red lights or for traffic control, I'm not always sure) and perhaps you could use these to detect the snow.

Re:heating element (2, Interesting)

mariushm (1022195) | more than 3 years ago | (#30593702)

An article said changing to LED lights in an intersection brought about 100$ a month economy in electricity costs, for that particular intersection.

It would cost several hundred dollars to make changes to the semaphores (like changing the regular glass to glass with wire inside that would heat it and have sensors that would turn on the heating elements only when needed). Some towns only get that heavy snow once every few years or for just a few days each winter so when you think about it, it's cheaper to just send people with brooms to clean them when needed. If drivers would have more common sense and be more careful, there wouldn't be any accidents.

Re:heating element (1)

oldspewey (1303305) | more than 3 years ago | (#30593732)

Better still, why not include a heating element that turns on when it's 2C or below?

duh (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#30593490)

why don't they just angle the lenses downwards with less of a hood? problem solved.

Simple (2, Interesting)

Thelasko (1196535) | more than 3 years ago | (#30593510)

Put a small heater in the traffic signal that turns on below 0C (32F). Problem solved.

Re:Simple (3, Informative)

qoncept (599709) | more than 3 years ago | (#30593596)

Genius. I would say RTFA, but you all you really need to do is read the summary.

Re:Simple (1)

Thelasko (1196535) | more than 3 years ago | (#30593608)

Put a small heater in the traffic signal that turns on below 0C (32F).

Or better yet, wire the heater to one of these [amazon.com] and have someone drive around and turn them on when it snows.

Either way, if the municipalities don't solve the problem, they will get sued. How much does that cost?

Re:Simple (1)

nschubach (922175) | more than 3 years ago | (#30593614)

Sure, problem solved, but the summary points out why that's not happening:

We can remove the snow with heat, but the cost of doing that in terms of energy use has not brought any enthusiasm from cities and states that buy these signals,' said the CEO of an LED traffic-signal manufacturer.

Re:Simple (1)

gbjbaanb (229885) | more than 3 years ago | (#30593868)

Of course, they could always put a sloping cover above the signs so it doesn't get, well, covered in snow.

New design needed? (3, Insightful)

nschubach (922175) | more than 3 years ago | (#30593512)

Maybe the lights need to take on a new form? What kind of problems would arise from coating each LED's sides with black paint (to replicate the duty of the indirect sun shades) and spacing the LEDs out so snow can pass through them? Or possibly shaping the LED or a cover as a cone shape so that it's harder to cover with snow?

Re:New design needed? (1)

magamiako1 (1026318) | more than 3 years ago | (#30593738)

Then this would confuse people, because, you know, they're so used to the round traffic light design.

Re:New design needed? (1)

nschubach (922175) | more than 3 years ago | (#30593860)

if you look at a cone straight on, it's still a circle. There are also several square LED traffic lights that's I've seen around.

New design = used in Quebec (1)

AliasMarlowe (1042386) | more than 3 years ago | (#30594004)

Then this would confuse people, because, you know, they're so used to the round traffic light design.

One of the smarter things in Quebec province is that many of their traffic lights use shape as well as color to distinguish between the three states. One is square (red), one round (yellow), and one triangular (green). While differing shapes increase discrimination only slightly over the differing colors, it is an increase in suitability for purpose. Also, since each light fits into the same "bounding box", this means that in area of the light, red > yellow > green, which is also a small bias on the side of safety, making red slightly more visible in adverse conditions.

Re:New design needed? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#30593760)

Yeah, I have seen other places where they simply make them flat and smooth so nothing (or at least snow) won't stick to them. The problem of directionability can be solved with lenses in the front glass

Re:New design needed? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#30593834)

Almost got it. I have heard they use some special coating to solve this problem.

No issues in Canada (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#30593522)

A lot of traffic lights in Canada are of the LED variety. I've never seen one obstructed by snow.

Re:No issues in Canada (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#30593566)

"I've never seen one obstructed by snow."

Yea, because you couldn't see it.

Re:No issues in Canada (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#30593640)

A lot of traffic lights in Canada are of the LED variety. I've never seen one obstructed by snow.

Same here. These things are all over "Winterpig" and I've never seen one covered in snow in winter.

Let me also say that these LED lights are brilliant if you're colourblind (and even if you're not). You can see them shining strongly even with, or against, direct sunlight.

Remove the shroud? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#30593552)

It seems the obvious solution is to remove the shroud surrounding the LEDs. The LEDs are bright enough and directional enough to not need a shroud, unlike the incandescents.
Remove the shroud, the snow has no place to accumulate and the lights can be seen. Everyone is happy.

Re:Remove the shroud? (2, Interesting)

Lord Bitman (95493) | more than 3 years ago | (#30593862)

the shroud is there to prevent mistakenly thinking you have green when the lane going in a different direction has the green. The top/bottom of those is utterly useless, though. The whole thing should be a flat surface aside from the blinders on the side.
and yet...
  1) that sign is still completely covered and unreadable due to snow
  2) No solution is offered for the sign
  3) Nobody even mentions the sign. Without the information from the sign, people are expected to just practice safe driving.

Propaganda? (5, Interesting)

CrazyDuke (529195) | more than 3 years ago | (#30593626)

I read this and I almost immediately thought "propaganda." Why? A appeal to fear based on a insignificant and easily fixable event, then attempting to tie the fear to larger political concepts. Fear change! Fear green! Equals death! Keep same! Same is warm! Same is reliable! Same is safe! You don't have to think about same!

NIGGA (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#30593636)

is dying. Fact: *BSD is dead. llok at your soft, before playing to around return it what they think is for successful Baby take my includes where you 'Yes' to any

Simple Solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#30593638)

use a non-stick, non-freezing lens for the lights.

also add an anti-glare coating too so the light covers arent deep enough to catch snow, with a slightly dark color.

note that a good portion of that black light housing has already melted.

Distinguish top from bottom (3, Insightful)

Junior J. Junior III (192702) | more than 3 years ago | (#30593652)

Red/Green colorblindness is nothing new; that's why the lights are standardized to have green at the bottom and red at the top. If you can't distinguish red from green, you can at least distinguish top from bottom. Why is that not a perfectly acceptable solution?

Re:Distinguish top from bottom (1)

_LORAX_ (4790) | more than 3 years ago | (#30593918)

In different parts of the country, like Florida, they have traffic lights in a horizontal orientation.

Re:Distinguish top from bottom (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#30593996)

In Quebec, we have different shapes on new traffic lights. Red is square and green is round.

Re:Distinguish top from bottom (1)

Temkin (112574) | more than 3 years ago | (#30593948)

I live in Texas. We hang our lights sideways.

No worries about snow down here of course... :-)

Re:Distinguish top from bottom (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#30594000)

In florida the lights are horizontal and not vertical, if you are not from there and see them for the first time, it is very confusing.

Double whammy (0, Flamebait)

gregarican (694358) | more than 3 years ago | (#30593660)

After having lived my first 30 years in Florida and now living in Ohio the past 10 I have a theory about Northern drivers. Besides the equipment issues like LED traffic lights what do cold temperatures affect? Hmmm...

We know that your bladder shrinks. We also know that your blood vessels constrict. That would include blood vessels feeding the brain. And that's why the drivers around here are so damn bad during the Winter. They are inherently stupider! So please fix the issue with LED traffic lights, as any additional handicaps are adding fuel to the fire!

Re:Double whammy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#30593916)

Yeah, that must be Obama's excuse, being from the mid-west and all. Might explain his chronic eye twitch too.

Tell that to (1)

Fnord666 (889225) | more than 3 years ago | (#30593668)

They say the problem is easily remedied by maintenance crews using brooms and occurs so infrequently -- once or twice a winter -- that it does not outweigh the benefits of energy efficiency.

Tell that to the surviving members of Lisa Richter's family.

Re:Tell that to (1)

guruevi (827432) | more than 3 years ago | (#30594014)

How much energy savings do these lights add up to? How many lives will be saved by not having to produce the energy for the old light bulbs?

How much would Lisa Richter pay in taxes or add to society? How many babies would she produce?

It might be mean and sad but that's the bitter truth and that's how a corporation/government would calculate the cost/benefits of their installation.

There IS a new Stop Light lens cover design (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#30593678)

I saw a TV new report on this issue yesterday and the new design shielding the light had a gap to create a flow to help prevent build-up.

Hmm... (3, Interesting)

neowolf (173735) | more than 3 years ago | (#30593704)

I wonder if there is some other design factor that is causing this problem, beyond just the LED lights not putting out as much heat as incandescent ones. I live in Colorado and most of the traffic lights here (Denver area) now use LEDs. I don't believe I have ever encountered one that was clogged with snow or ice. Not to say it doesn't happen, but I wonder if the traffic lights here are simply designed differently (better covers/shielding, spacing, ?).

It seems like a simple solution would be a small heater incorporated into the LED lamp assembly that only turns on below a certain temperature. Better yet- perhaps a sensor could be used to detect if the lamp was covered, perhaps by reflectivity. This would probably still use a lot less electricity over the course of a year.

Re:Hmm... (5, Informative)

CoreDump (1715) | more than 3 years ago | (#30593908)

The ones you see around Denver *are* designed differently.

The shield around the lights is open on the top, so that it funnels wind downwards and blows the snow off of the light. The ones in Illinois are not. The Colorado shields cost ~$30.

This isn't a case of LEDs being bad. Nor is it "greens run amuck". It's idiots run amuck.

The driver of the truck should be prosecuted. In every light cluster with turn arrows, the turn arrows are on the bottom. They are NOT the solid green. And being from Illinois, in Driver's Ed we were all taught that Green does not mean 'Go'. It means *proceed when the intersection is clear*. So, failure on several points by the driver of the truck.

Illinois needs to install the same snow shields that Colorado and other states have successfully done with their LED light installations.

We'd probably have them already, except we spent all our DOT money on 'Rod R. Blagojevich - Governor' signs.

Only apply heat when there's snow on the light? (3, Insightful)

bigtrike (904535) | more than 3 years ago | (#30593708)

Why would the heaters have to use much energy? It sounds like they're not needed very often. You could automatically trigger them via external light/temperature sensors with some minimal processing or modify the red light camera software to trigger them. The only real downside is massively increasing the complexity of what is currently a very simple device.

A simpler answer might be to train people that they actually need to slow down if a traffic signal is not fully visible.

They bought the lights to save money... (1)

BobMcD (601576) | more than 3 years ago | (#30593716)

...and not because they are green. Having to heat them to melt the snow will mean less savings, which may well mean they switch them back to incandescents. Not exactly rocket science. Ironic, but mostly simple economics.

I don't get the colorblind comment... (1)

BobMcD (601576) | more than 3 years ago | (#30593772)

We were discussing these recently at the office — several folks in the building are red/green color blind and different street lights are differently distinguishable.

I had trouble parsing that sentence. Is the statement that the colorblind can tell the difference between LED's and bulbs? Because the non-colorblind can also.

Is the statement that the colorblind can tell the difference between the red and green lights? Because that's why they have a standard. The red one is always in one of two places. The green one is always opposite that one. Really, if they changed the lights to a pure white, they would still work for the non-colorblind.

So yeah, 'say what?'

human condition (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#30593804)

people shouldn't be trusted with automobiles anyway

They just need a better design (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#30593806)

The problem isn't the new bulbs themselves. It's because the light fixture is designed with the old bulbs in mind.

They need new fixtures that are made for LED's and account for problems like lack of heat (eg. they could design it so that snow does not collect in front of the lights).

Not a problem (4, Funny)

paiute (550198) | more than 3 years ago | (#30593812)

My town mistakenly ordered IED lights. These remove their own snow.

The real world defeats the lab (1, Troll)

pcause (209643) | more than 3 years ago | (#30593838)

Amazing, the real world isn't like the lab. And, surprise, all of the theoretical results expected aren't going to be achieved in the real world. This is a great example of theory meeting the real world and should make us pause and reduce our expectations for benefits of going green. Yes, it is a good idea to reduce our energy consumption and carbon footprint. Bu no, we won't get the results in terms of energy savings, reduced emissions and job creation that the ardent proponents are telling us will be achieved and it will take longer than expected. Still worth doing, but don't believe the press releases and promises.

Climate Change (1, Offtopic)

BobMcD (601576) | more than 3 years ago | (#30593912)

Has anyone studied the impact of so many small sources of heat on the changing climate? Here we have a tiny example, to be sure, but changing the type of lighting in the streetlight has impacted the climate around that light so much that snowfall is now an issue where it was not before. If everyone everywhere stopped using incandescent bulbs and switched to LED's that (for the sake of argument) used exactly the same amount of electricity, what would the impact be on our environment?

In that vein, there are billions of humans on the planet who insist on keeping their immediate climate around 72 degrees throughout every season. Every time their immediate climate touches the global one, a micro-transaction of heat occurs. If this completely stopped, and for the sake of argument humans didn't die because of that, what would the impact of this be on our environment?

Finally, with all those billions of humans themselves being chemical engines which emit heat as a by-product (as evidenced by my cat's behavior this winter), what would be the impact of reducing their body temperatures to, say, 80 degrees?

If all of this doesn't somehow add up, I'd like to know why. I am genuinely curious... And for the sake of discussion, I'd prefer to leave the political BS out of it. I'm genuinely interested in the science behind it.

Ugh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#30593940)

This is a simple problem that can be solved with a small amount of engineering and a little common sense. Obstructed traffic lights do not cause accidents, poor/unattentive drivers cause accidents. You should always be aware of the surroundings and be ready to react. I always look both ways when crossing a one way street, because it is the reckless driver going the wrong way that causes the problem. Yellow light means prepare to stop (and clear the intersection), not speed up to cross (or enter the intersection).

The US NEEDS to expire driving licenses and require re-testing every 5 or 10 years. Plus there needs to be stricter testing. This will keep unsafe drivers (yeah you grandma) off the road.

Introduce a nonindigenous species (1)

fortapocalypse (1231686) | more than 3 years ago | (#30593970)

Well imports some lemurs to cuddle up next to each stoplight to keep them warm. In addition, they will get rid of the Australian cockroaches that were introduced to help with the stray breadcrumbs in the parks...

I'm from Wisconsin and that's BS! (2, Informative)

ILuvRamen (1026668) | more than 3 years ago | (#30594008)

I'm from Wisconsin and we got about a foot of snow twice and I did some driving. You can still see the signal lights just fine. Snow is made out of ice which makes it translucent and the colors come through perfectly. It sounds like, as usual, people are driving with their heads up their asses in the snow and making up some BS excuse about why they went straight through a red light. Don't believe a word of this.

SIgh (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 3 years ago | (#30594010)

Just put in a heater the runs at the appropriates times.
However when a traffic light is obscured, it is the drivers responsibility to proceed with caution.

simple fix (1)

DragonTHC (208439) | more than 3 years ago | (#30594022)

install a low power heating element over the lights to warm them up in the winter. you still save power because you don't need them in the summer.

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