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Stoplights to Mete Out Punishment?

michael posted more than 10 years ago | from the stale-green dept.

Technology 995

gilrain writes "The San Francisco Chronicle is reporting that traffic engineers have created a stoplight that deals with speeding. According to the article, 'It senses when a speeder is approaching and metes out swift punishment. It doesn't write a ticket. It immediately turns from green to yellow to red.' This is not just a prototype: it is in use now at an intersection in the Bay Area. Does stopping speeders before others serve a purpose other than petty revenge? Is it even safe to change expected stoplight patterns, especially for drivers in a hurry?"

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Don't forget... (-1)

SCO$699FeeTroll (695565) | more than 10 years ago | (#8817994) pay your $699 licensing fee you cock-smoking teabaggers.

Re:Don't forget... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8818118)

Suck a boot, Nutsack!

Timing it right could be tricky (3, Interesting)

Frisky070802 (591229) | more than 10 years ago | (#8818001)

I know I'll get flamed for this, but I see no reason why lights can't be changed to red to slow down flagrant offenders.

Still, one thing to be really clear about is (a) don't set it up so that if you really speed you make it through the yellow, but (b) don't make it so far away that you catch someone ahead of the speeder with the red light!

By the way, I've had lights change to red on me for no apparent reason, and wondered if this policy was already implemented. It was in the Bay Area, but not Pleasanton.

Re:Timing it right could be tricky (5, Funny)

Rinikusu (28164) | more than 10 years ago | (#8818090)

I'll go along with this ONLY if a spotlight also illuminates the offending car and it becomes legal to exit your own vehicle and pummel the offending driver for fucking up traffic for the rest of us.

Isn't this supposed to be covered by, I dunno, speeding tickets and cops? If speeding tickets aren't the proper deterrent, maybe we should stiffen the penalties if we wish to reduce speeding. Or maybe we should raise the speed limits.

Re:Timing it right could be tricky (2, Funny)

UID1000000 (768677) | more than 10 years ago | (#8818155)

This would be nice, if we could make it similar to how the pisser in the pool turns purple. The car becomes some obnoxious color so that we can honk and flash (fingers).

Re:Timing it right could be tricky (1)

Frisky070802 (591229) | more than 10 years ago | (#8818190)

With enough monitoring, they could tell when the road is otherwise deserted or every car is speeding. I agree that a slower car following the speeder shouldn't suffer.

Re:Timing it right could be tricky (4, Insightful)

jamonterrell (517500) | more than 10 years ago | (#8818181)

The point is that they believe the risks involved in changing the light are outweighed by the potential that it will cause mass reform in regards to speeding. They think that this will save more accidents and lives by slowing everyone down.

I think this is poposterous. Not only will it not slow people down other than while approaching lights they've remembered do this, just to speed through even faster when they get close enough to get away with it. It's been proven by scientific studies that people are more likely to speed due to a stopsign or stoplight because the subconciously feel the need to make up for lost time.

There are far too many risks to just implement this willy-nilly. The parent brings up a good point with timing, how can you be sure you won't cause an accident by going red so quickly that they can't stop? People are not going to be prepared for this behavior, it's likely to cause mass confusion and accidents during it's implementation.

I'd rather see automated ticket-writing machines than this... as much as I'm against automated ticket-writing.


great! (4, Insightful)

wankledot (712148) | more than 10 years ago | (#8818007)

That's good, instead of speeding, now they can speed *and* run a red light. I hope it's timed so that the light is far enough away that they have time to stop, and not run through it.

after reading the article more... (1)

wankledot (712148) | more than 10 years ago | (#8818078)

I should add that the light is 350 feet away, and if the speeder is going 60MPH, that's 88ft/sec, giving them just enough room and time to speed up and run the light when they see it change.

Re:after reading the article more... (0)

UID1000000 (768677) | more than 10 years ago | (#8818214)

4 seconds is not enough stopping time at any light if you were inclined to obey the law.

This would be followed by a police officer sitting down the road waiting.

1. Piss off drivers
2. Force them to run red lights
3. Issues Tickets
4. ???
5. Profit

I really don't think a truck or SUV could stop in time let along a sedan.

What do you think?

Re:great! (2, Interesting)

realdpk (116490) | more than 10 years ago | (#8818096)

This is one of the problems with a society that derives a significant portion of its revenue from crime (through fines). Anything they can do to tack on more charges just lines their budget.

California (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8818123)

IIRC in california they already let cars run red lights if they are turning right, under the "pedestrian culling" program.

Re:California (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8818246)

it's not like that everywhere?

Re:great! (1)

anubi (640541) | more than 10 years ago | (#8818148)

If its got the intelligence to see him coming at it too fast, I also it has the intelligence to watch him and delay cross-traffic if the speeder also decides to become a traffic light violator.

Combined with the traffic light violator cameras, this looks like speeding could become an expensive fruitless pastime.

Re:great! (1)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 10 years ago | (#8818165)

That's good, instead of speeding, now they can speed *and* run a red light.

Then they'll get nailed for TWO infractions. money

Danger (1)

KingAdrock (115014) | more than 10 years ago | (#8818016)

If the driver is all ready speeding, what is going to stop him/her from blowing through the red light. Seems like a possibly dangerous way to deal with the problem.

Re:Danger (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8818048)

possible dangerous? shit i know if i was turned from green to red instantaniously I would throw way off, slamming on my brakes and swearing up a storm.

What about the 80 year old man whos not even going to notice the light changing? He is just going to plow through trafic

Definately dangerous

Re:Danger (1)

rmohr02 (208447) | more than 10 years ago | (#8818088)

Well, I assume the light won't immediately turn green for the crossing direction--it'll just be red for both directions at the same time.

Re:Danger (2, Interesting)

Mattintosh (758112) | more than 10 years ago | (#8818100)

It's called "thinning the herd." If you cause enough accidents, the number of people that speed in these areas WILL go down.

I bet it's the all-powerful casketmakers' lobby behind this... Get your tinfoil hat.

Re:Danger (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8818133)

I presume there will be a longer delay before the light turns green at the road that intercepts the road the speeder is on, otherwise, the light turning red may take some people by surprise, and we could end up with a Smash-Bonk-Horror at the interception.

Re:Danger (4, Insightful)

the_2nd_coming (444906) | more than 10 years ago | (#8818142)

most people speed... but most people obey the traffic signals as well.

if the traffic signals stop rewarding speeders by making them miss a light, then the speeders will slow down.

Re:Danger (0)

andy1307 (656570) | more than 10 years ago | (#8818169)

And if he sees the orange light, he is more likely to accelerate and cross the intersection before it turns red.

Re:Danger (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8818175)

Not as dangerous as having a speeding car suddenly slam on the brakes to stop for the light.

Great idea.... (1, Redundant)

Jim Starx (752545) | more than 10 years ago | (#8818026)

So instead of just speeders we'll have speeders that run red lights....

Re:Great idea.... (0)

u-235-sentinel (594077) | more than 10 years ago | (#8818061)

This sounds like a bad idea. People running red lights now will = more accidents. I wonder if they were thinking this one through or using the force?

Old Tech (5, Informative)

BillFarber (641417) | more than 10 years ago | (#8818028)

In the town where I grew up about 20 years ago, there was a light that did that. It was on a 25 MPH road, and if you were going faster than 28 or so, it would turn red. We would go out of our way to avoid that light.

Re:Old Tech (1)

plasticpixel (323537) | more than 10 years ago | (#8818237)

Yes. Why is this news? I know of a light in San Jose that had this feature 8 years ago.

BTW. I just found out that Al Gore invented the internet.

It's really a security move. (3, Funny)

glomph (2644) | more than 10 years ago | (#8818031)

The office of homeland security has determined that the Enemies of America (R) are using the public streets, and as such, these must be closely controlled, if not eliminated altogether. Dissent only helps the terrorists, and shows that you are not a true Patriot(R).

what about other drivers? (5, Insightful)

Frizzle Fry (149026) | more than 10 years ago | (#8818032)

It would certainly piss me off if some guy was speeding ahead of me and caused the light ahead of us to turn red, stopping both of us. People on the road get mad at other drivers too often already; do we really need to give people another excuse to get mad at someone, blaming "that idiot speeder" for making them late?

This is the Problem Here (2, Insightful)

Fortress (763470) | more than 10 years ago | (#8818099)

Hear! Hear!

It's intrinsically wrong to punish other people for one person's crime. One idiot blazes through a bunch of traffic but everyone has to stop for his speed-induced red light? Aren't there enough causes of road rage already?

Re:This is the Problem Here (1)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 10 years ago | (#8818245)

Most road rage is caused by people who obstruct traffic.

Turns it into a self-correcting problem. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8818120)

Speed --> other drivers shoot you --> shooter goes to jail --> no more speeders or road-ragers on the road. Beautiful.

Re:what about other drivers? (5, Insightful)

bladernr (683269) | more than 10 years ago | (#8818192)

It would certainly piss me off if some guy was speeding ahead of me and caused the light ahead of us to turn red, stopping both of us.

But isn't peer pressure a good motivator? Now, speeding will not only get you more redlights (making it, in fact, take longer to get anywhere the faster you go), but you also run the risk of being the jackass that stopped all traffic.

Seems to me that this solves the speeding problem in a way that doesn't involve fines, which have had almost no effect.

Re:what about other drivers? (1)

Chazmati (214538) | more than 10 years ago | (#8818251)

Well, presumably this will cause those drivers to realize that speeding won't save them any time, and they'll stop speeding (unless they're planning on running red lights, too).

So your annoyance will be temporary. Try to hold yourself together until the speeders have been educated.

And maybe you'll get lucky and get some speeder on the cross-street that changes your light back to green. Or does the light stay red both ways to punish the guilty? It's evil, but I like it.

This reminds me... (2, Interesting)

Creepy Crawler (680178) | more than 10 years ago | (#8818035)

Of the Dukes of Hazard where the local pig... er umm Sheriff had a pop-up Stop sign to charge passerbys and new residents.

It was deemed crooked by the show, and it's crooked now.

But... (1)

Bishop, Martin (695163) | more than 10 years ago | (#8818036)

Why leave the camera out? I'd love to see the look on some lead foot's face as his green light suddenly turns to red!

Maintenance costs? (1)

AndroidCat (229562) | more than 10 years ago | (#8818038)

First Corollary of Taber's Second Law:
Machines that piss people off get murdered.
-- Pat Taber

from the crash-your-car-and-get-a-new-one-dept. (2, Insightful)

Sn_wC_t (769951) | more than 10 years ago | (#8818041)

So when the light turns red early, does it give a green to the next in line? Sounds like a recipe for disater.

Bad Idea... (4, Insightful)

Metallic Matty (579124) | more than 10 years ago | (#8818042)

Speeding is a habit, and another related habit is that of running red lights quickly after a yellow (ie, its yellow when they see it, so it MUST be yellow when they go through it.) I've seen quite a few near misses because of people burning through a sudden red becuase they'd rather not have to slow down.

Re:Bad Idea... (1)

the_2nd_coming (444906) | more than 10 years ago | (#8818180)

I don't know about you, but most people speed, and I sure as heck don't see most people running red lights.

Re:Bad Idea... (1)

BrookHarty (9119) | more than 10 years ago | (#8818188)

If you are doing the speed limit, the yellow light should have time to give the driver the second needed to decide to stop or go through the light.

Most the time you run a red light, the light turns yellow after breaking distance, you have a choice, you lock up your tires, or go through.

There was a study that shorting the yellow light increased rear end collisions. (And makes more money for automatic picture tickets) Of course if you increase the time on a yellow light, it gives people a chance to slow down, and clear the intersection.

Seems like a good idea to me if they keep the timing down, the only thing is rush hour traffic needs to be timed, one joker could slow down the entire commute home.

The Result: (2, Insightful)

Alethes (533985) | more than 10 years ago | (#8818044)

This will just mean more people running red lights. That could mean more accidents, or it may not, just like speeding causes accidents sometimes and sometimes it doesn't. The end result is that it doesn't really accomplish anything; it just converts the offense.

Vietnam, er, I mean Iraq is really gettin excitin! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8818050)

How long till Bush and Co. fire up the draft! That's gonna rock! They already sent out notices to draft boards to get prepared "just in case" heheh this rocks!

I hope the 0s have as groovy music as the 60s did! Now, who's got the LSD?

They're all grey to me... (1, Funny)

slipnslidemaster (516759) | more than 10 years ago | (#8818055)

I'm colorblind you insensitive clod!!

What a bad idea (4, Interesting)

mindless4210 (768563) | more than 10 years ago | (#8818058)

That seems incredibly unsafe. Not only could it cause a serious accident, think about what it's going to do to traffic. Especially in a major city like San Francisco, you've gotta have coordinated traffic lights or the streets will be a mess.

Meting out punishment? (1)

One Louder (595430) | more than 10 years ago | (#8818059)

Precisely how is this stoplight punishing anyone? All it seems to be doing is making the next intersection a red light so that the driver slows down and (hopefully) stops. If the driver chooses to subsequently run the red light, well, there's nothing special about this light over any other red light.

This is no different than metering lights on freeway onramps that control traffic flow. This one just happens to pay attention to speeders.

I've experienced one of these. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8818062)

Yep, In a town called Ladner just outside Vancouver, BC, Canada. Got stopped too. Bastards.

Aww, unfair to speeders! (4, Insightful)

American AC in Paris (230456) | more than 10 years ago | (#8818064)

Does stopping speeders before others serve a purpose other than petty revenge?

Well, y'know, there's that whole enforcement of the law thing. Unless that falls under 'petty revenge' in your book. One might also imagine that it'd be effective in encouraging the typical driver to actually obey posted speed limits (though I can't speak for the asshats who'll take it upon themselves to try and 'beat the system' by speeding faster or running the light.)

Is it even safe to change expected stoplight patterns, especially for drivers in a hurry?

Oh, heaven forfend that drivers be expected to pay attention to the road and traffic signals, especially so when they're in a hurry and thus simply have no choice but to violate traffic laws! Gee, officer, I just wasn't expecting that kid to cross the road--and I was in a hurry, so you can hardly blame me for it!

Just because it's easy to get away with speeding doesn't mean it's legal. Just because you're busy, late, or otherwise incapable of managing your life and time in a reasonable fashion doesn't mean that it's somehow more okay for you to speed than somebody who speeds for the hell of it. The fact that you can manufacture any number of scenarios detailing How This Can Go Wrong doesn't change the fact that the person triggering the system is violating traffic laws in the first place. Try following traffic laws. Seriously. You'd be amazed at how well the universe keeps from collapsing on itself when one follows the speed limit, signals lane changes, and maintains adequate braking distance.

On a side note, these aren't all that new--they have 'em in Alexandria, VA, and Bethesda has something similar (warning lights flash at you if you're going too fast.)

Re:Aww, unfair to speeders! (0, Flamebait)

m3j00 (606453) | more than 10 years ago | (#8818162)

So if the state of Georgia brought in a system to crush a kitten every time someone breaks the sodomy laws you would blame the kitten's deaths on those filthy sodomizers?

Re:Aww, unfair to speeders! (2, Insightful)

lukewarmfusion (726141) | more than 10 years ago | (#8818242)

If you're driving the speed limit, but the jackass ahead of you is speeding - you may just get stuck at every damn light.

Don't get me wrong - I agree with you... it's hard to come up with any good reason why this isn't a good idea. Follow the damn law.

Stoplights say a lot about the people (4, Interesting)

mabu (178417) | more than 10 years ago | (#8818069)

I was in Switzerland last year and I noticed that the stoplights there would show the yello signal in both directions. So if you're at a red light, the yellow will go on to let you know the green is getting ready to change in the opposing lane.

In the states, this doesn't happen. It's almost as if we can't do that to people in the US - they'd run the yellow at the red. More evidence that Europeans are a more civilized in their driving?

Re:Stoplights say a lot about the people (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8818232)

In the states, this doesn't happen. It's almost as if we can't do that to people in the US - they'd run the yellow at the red. More evidence that Europeans are a more civilized in their driving?

Maybe drivers are more rule-abiding in Switzerland. But you should try going to Italy sometime. In Italy, stop signals are regarded as mere suggestions. Many a tourist has been rear-ended by naively deciding to actually stop at a stop signal, and thus catching all other drivers completely by surprise.

Hope the planned it out correctly (1)

Neil Blender (555885) | more than 10 years ago | (#8818072)

If the the light in the other direction suddenly turns green... Joking aside, when I am driving, I watch the light that I am approaching. At a certain distance I make a decision that I am going going through the light even if it turns yellow. The faster I am going, the farther that distance is.

Speeder not the only one punished... (1)

goldspider (445116) | more than 10 years ago | (#8818074)

...but also everyone behind him/her. Doesn't sound as if they've thought very hard about what such a traffic light would actually do. Of course, when was the last time that something originating from California made practical sense?

It's San Francisco. No guilt - except for groups. (1)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 10 years ago | (#8818253)

Speeder not the only one punished... ...but also everyone behind him/her.

It's San Francisco. Individuals are not responsible for their actions. Guilt only applies to groups. They're all driving cars, so they're all equally guilty. And they all need to get over their love affairs with cars and use public transit. (Even if it doesn't go where then need to go, or takes several hours to replace a 10-minute car trip and costs far more, or stops running after 6 PM and doesn't restart until Monday.)

And shit is Shinola.

I for one... (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8818076)

wecome our new stoplight overlords!

Does the other light turn green just as fast? (1)

m3j00 (606453) | more than 10 years ago | (#8818080)

So does this mean that the light for the crossing street will turn green faster too? That could lead to some nasty wrecks if there isn't a buffer period where both lights are red.

makes sense (1)

the_2nd_coming (444906) | more than 10 years ago | (#8818083)

this removed the benefits from speeding... namely, beating a traffic light or getting somewhere on time when you are running late.

Speeding is just a Gateway Crime anyway... (1)

writermike (57327) | more than 10 years ago | (#8818084)

That's what the cops say. ;-) First you have speeding, then running red lights, then running stop signs, soon you're up to mass-murder.

This new stop light just gets you through the gateway just a little quicker.


Another solution looking for a problem (4, Informative)

Safety Cap (253500) | more than 10 years ago | (#8818089)

For all you that don't RTFA:
Many neighbors are so peeved with the popularity of the road that they didn't want a traffic signal at all at Montevino because it would allow traffic to flow better than the stop sign it replaced. At least the stop signs made speeding impossible and persuaded some commuters to steer clear, neighbors said.

As far as speeding tickets goes, it is a doucmented fact that traffic laws are not for safety but revenue generation. This bad boy will probably pay for itself in no time and continue to reap dividends for years to come.

Combine the "smart" light with the auto ticket-giving camera (don't need to pay for the copy to write tickets!) and city budget problems will be cured overnight. Oh, and when people get smart and start slowing down, just decrease the yellow-light time and watch your profits rise!

America: Best profit-making government money can buy.

If this is new it ain't very new (2, Informative)

phearlez (769961) | more than 10 years ago | (#8818092)

I drive on Herndon Parkway in Herndon, Virginia every day to and from work and there are 3 stoplights over an a stretch of about 3 miles that behave this way. Been in place for the last year I've lived in the area, I dunno how much before that.

Not good enough (1)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 10 years ago | (#8818101)

I think they should take the extra step and put in pop up tire spikes. That'll get 'em.

It seems to me (1)

KingOfBLASH (620432) | more than 10 years ago | (#8818104)

It seems to me that if they really wanted to stop people from speeding, they should take a picture of the speeder and record the speed, then have somebody at the DMV mail out tickets once a week. People would respect a $50 ticket more then a red light (especially after going a few miles through such lights), and it wouldn't cause traffic congestion.

Entrapment? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8818108)

Isn't this just entrapment to get you to run a red light, or cause an accident? Not to mention the havoc it will wreck on the traffic patterns.

This is going to cause a lot of worse problems, and for what? To fine a few speeders?

I saw this (2, Interesting)

mcc (14761) | more than 10 years ago | (#8818110)

This is the worst idea EVER. Yeah, I'm going to feel *real fucking safe* when suddenly the most batshit nuts, speeding drivers on the road are unexpectedly and without warning coming to sudden stops because they've triggered the "punishment light". To say nothing of the collateral damage caused by the fact that everybody on the road winds up stopping.

Vehicular safety ONLY FUNCTIONS when the behavior of all of the drivers is as PREDICTABLE as possible. That's why we have stoplights in the first place, if you think about it.

I can't wait for the first time it rains in this area. One person will speed, the light will suddenly turn red, half the cars will notice and come to a sudden stop, some of the cars will stop more slowly than others because of the slippery road, some will hydroplane... just THINK of the number of rear-end collisions you'd get. (And, of course, in each case, the insurance companies would place "at fault" the person in rear for failing to notice the without-warning red light immediately and stop immediately, or for failing to predict the person in front of them might come to a stop without warning...)

good. more excuse (1)

TechnoFreek (758758) | more than 10 years ago | (#8818111)

now i can just use this as another reason to be late to work when I'm really going through the pain in the ass process of networking a Win98 machine that's not taken care of AT ALL with my XP rig that i take care of (as much as Windows can be taken care of without a hammer, anyways)

Other such stoplights (1)

sward (122951) | more than 10 years ago | (#8818112)

I personally know of (and have triggered) similar stoplights in Washington, DC as well as in Herndon, VA. These particular lights have been around for quite a while.

The exact locations of these lights escape me for the moment, however.

Excellent plan! (3, Informative)

ke4roh (590577) | more than 10 years ago | (#8818113)

This will make for excellent driver behavior modification. In the town where I used to live, people habitually stopped their cars in the intersections for red lights (just past the stop bar). When they put in sensors, people quickly figured out they needed to stop on the sensor - which was where the car was supposed to be in the first place. Likewise, if speeding produces no benefit, people will stop speeding.

As for running red lights, cameras can mete out punishment for that, too.

What if there's two speeders? (1)

Trespass (225077) | more than 10 years ago | (#8818119)

Say you've got 2 cars speeding towards the light. It turns red fast, and in the process could easily cause an accident. This is not to argue who is culpable for the accident, but a system like this would make things more dangerous rather than less.

already in use for a long time (1)

sqrt529 (145430) | more than 10 years ago | (#8818126)

I saw these 3 or 4 years ago during a travel in armacao de pera in portugal. It was really annoying when somebody behind you was too fast and you had to wait on the lights because of him.

this is moronic. (0, Flamebait)

websensei (84861) | more than 10 years ago | (#8818130)

it greatly increases the odds that the speeding driver will run an unexpected red light, potentially killing someone if the intersecting light turns green at the same time. lights should be consistent, always taking the same amount of time to turn from yellow to red, w the exception of an absence of traffic at one side causing the (same slow, consistent) shift to yellow to red.

in some ways this is like high-speed police chases. I just read a stat that 33% of such chases end in a bystander fatality. I bet a large number of those innocent deaths would be avoided if the cops wouldn't endanger *everyone* by making it many speeding vehicles instead of just 1. *

*I know many people will disagree w this 2nd point and I have mixed feelings on it myself... but the light seems even more obviously wrong to me

Not new by any means. (1)

Kyaphas (30519) | more than 10 years ago | (#8818131)

I've seen these type of lights here in Northern VA. Herndon I believe. There are signs that say the lights will change to red if you're speeding. It uses sensors in the road.

"Invented" my eye. :-)

So what... (1)

Ghengis (73865) | more than 10 years ago | (#8818132)

It's not going to make my drive on I-85 in Atlanta ANY safer. Many of the speeding problems are on Interstates, where such a light will have no effect.

Red Rage (1)

Senor_Pedo (648805) | more than 10 years ago | (#8818139)

So we go from road rage to red rage...great. How long is it before we see drivers taking the time they're forced to sit at the red light to add their own personal "piece of flair" to said red light?

Two observations: (1)

Frennzy (730093) | more than 10 years ago | (#8818151)

First, San Francisco is notorious for having a high number of 'red light runners'...folks on bicycles are getting hit, killed, and maimed all too frequently just for this reason. (no to mention other motorists)

Second, a new way to have fun at other's expense!

1. Drive speed limit or below, wait until traffic is backed up behind you.
2. As you approach a green light, speed up unexpectedly, so the lights begins to cycle.
3. Speed through yellow, leaving all those morons behind you with their middle fingers in the air!
4. ???
5. Profit!

It's a tough idea to like (1)

natefanaro (304646) | more than 10 years ago | (#8818153)

I think that it's a great idea to stop speeders. And with most/all lights aware when there's police/fire/ambulance running through it makes sense. They're the only ones who should be speeding. The one very bad scenario is that the speeder blows through the red light and slams in to traffic that then has the right of way. If they're speeding that much they either don't care much about red lights or are speeding so much they don't have time to stop.

These are already in use all over NoVA (2, Insightful)

AcquaCow (56720) | more than 10 years ago | (#8818154)

Going to reply rather than moderate...

These lights are in heavy use in Northern Virginia. They are mostly in place around residential neighborhoods to keep speeds and road noise down. They also double as extra safety, as kids are around.

It's a lot easier to time crossing an intersection if you know that all the cars are going one speed or slower. This is true wether you are walking across it or making a turn in a car at said intersection.

The biggest concern are Kids. They are careless. They may look left then right, but if they see a car FAR off to the left, they won't pay any attention to it...even if it is going 90mph and will overtake them before they can cross the road.

And in other news... (0)

rtilghman (736281) | more than 10 years ago | (#8818157)

The ground behind dumpsters along the St. Patrick's Day parade route in new York will be electrified and "smart-monitored" to prevent unacceptable public urination. The "smart-monitors" are designed to detect small increases in both temperature and humidity, and will activate an electric grid to immediately stun the perpetrator by delivering a charge up the "line of offense."

I mean seriously, when exactly did Americans decide that the only way to get your neighbor to do EXACTLY what you want is to legislate him into the ground?!? What the hell happened to the "live and let live" ethos that took hold after we finally crawled out from under the puritan gravestone?!?

I just love the fact that I can't buy certain property in my town unless I agree to live under the micro-rules of a private group of homeowners who want to tell their neighbors what color their doormat should be. I thought being a US citizen and adhering to state and federal law was enough to allow me to own and manage my own property, but its good to know I have a bunch of busy-body neighbors with no lives to involve themselves in my personal business!

This country is not being flushed down the drain, it is being air-rammed down the drain with a 1000psi motor.


Just a thought.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8818167)

Wouldn't issuing a ticket to the car's owner be less disruptive AND provide a source of revenue? I mean, sure, there are cars that won't have their license plates be readable but that's already illegal now in most places, it's just not enforced. I'm guessing that most casual speeders won't go through the trouble of obscuring their license plate or take the risk of getting an additional fine for it if they're stopped for something else.

This isn't new... (1)

ydnar (946) | more than 10 years ago | (#8818172)

The town I grew up in had a stoplight that changed when cars approaching it exceeded the 25-mph speed limit.

Incidentally, the city is Alexandria, Virginia and the street is King Street between Janney's Lane and Upland Place. See map here [] .


4 way red? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8818174)

People are always speeding everywhere. Wouldn't every light just end up a 4 way red light?

This is ridiculous (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8818177)

Here are a couple reasons why:

The walk sign - What is the light going to do for pedestrians? When the walk sign is on, pedestrians are crossing the street. The Bay Area has a large amount of pedestrian traffic and there is no way you will get them all out of the street fast enough for this type of light change. People are programmed to get across the street quickly when the hand starts blinking. Will they just switch from a white-walk signal to a static red hand?

Traffic Patterns - Traffic lights are closely connected to the lights in their vicinity. If you change the cycle of one light, it offsets the traffic patterns for all the cars in that area with rippling affects. Its often a very delicate balance and it doesn't seem logical to just throw that out the window to stop a few speeders. If its a big deal, get the cops out there and give them some tickets.

That way (1)

dtfinch (661405) | more than 10 years ago | (#8818178)

We can have more deadly crashes at intersections. Sounds like a bad idea to me. Like Oregon's law that if even your back bumper is in the intersection when the light turns red, you can get a ticket. That causes a lot of deadly accidents too, as yellow lights have not been lengthened to account for the reduced stopping time.

Big deal -- we've had 'em in Boulder for years... (1)

Dr. Zowie (109983) | more than 10 years ago | (#8818183)

20th Street in Boulder, Colorado, has had such a speed-controlled light for years. Never thought it was a big deal until the self-important Caltrans guys announced theirs.

It works pretty well at regulating traffic, though not at boosting revenue for the city. Rather than build more, lately they've been parking a photo-radar van around town: that has the added benefit of filling the city's coffers.

Profit! (0)

hashwolf (520572) | more than 10 years ago | (#8818185)

1)Speedy drivers
2)Speed cam
3)Speed detecting lights

Seems these cities want to collect more fine tax.

We are on the ROAD to HELL (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8818186)

This is the generation that will have to fight an unconventional war. Stop lights which spy on us, DRM which curtails our enshrined rights, ID cards and biometrics which stick our details into huge databases, which we have to basically trust not to share our information widely, all of these are fronts in the battle between individual freedom and the combined might of corporation and government.

This will be the World War one of our generation. I am just away out now. I will walk past McDonalds without going in as a symbol of my personal fight against consumer culture. I suggest you all do the same.

In my country . . . (1)

wolfywolfy (107431) | more than 10 years ago | (#8818189)

In the state of Victoria, Australia, many major intersections actually have speed cameras mounted at the lights, so that if you speed up for the yellow, you get an automatic speeding ticket. If you're unlucky enough to miss it, you get another ticket for running the red light. It can get quite expensive . .

To beat this, you have to speed up really really fast then slam the brakes on hard just as you get to the lights, so that your car is going sideways through the lights and they can't see your license plate on the photo ;)

Yes, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8818196)

I would hate to be blind person crossing with
my dog on the opposite intersection when the
light suddenly went from red to green.

Also, what happens if you get speeders going
in perpendicular directions towards the same
intersection. At night, it could flicker like
a Christmas tree.

More social engineering (4, Insightful)

ErikTheRed (162431) | more than 10 years ago | (#8818197)

Not to defend unsafe driving, but the reason that nearly everyone speeds is that many speed limits are set so such a low common denominator that you'd assume that brain-damaged chimpanzees were used as the baseline cases. Most people will drive a reasonable speed regardless of what's posted. There are always a few idiots that will drive at insane speeds regardless of what's posted.

The reason that they do this is that they're addicted to traffic ticket revenue, which is essentially a randomly-enforced "tax lottery" - especially in my area where average highway traffic moves at 80 MPH+ (I've been "going with the flow" along with two dozen other drivers at 95+ in the city). I'm just waiting for them to pair this up with red-light cameras and 2-second yellow lights for the ultimate in revenue generation...

Yes, this sounds cynical (and it is), but if these jackasses were really interested in little things like public safety then they'd probably put some actual effort into designing safe intersections, traffic interchanges, force land developers to plan traffic flow, setting speed limits that are reasonable, etc.

Conditioning (1)

JanneM (7445) | more than 10 years ago | (#8818204)

Actually, conditioning works _really_ well on humans. It is all in the details, of course, but there really is no reason this would not work just fine to slow people down before the stoplight.

What I really react to is the "it is my right to speed"-type comments. No. It isn't. That is sort of why they made that regulation a law. As one who has lost a friend, I can tell you that you do _not_ have a right to ignore traffic laws. You have a right to protest them. You have a right to lobby (with your eloquence and your money) to change them. You do _not_, by any measure, have a right to ignore them.

Not very effective. (1)

tsg (262138) | more than 10 years ago | (#8818208)

One of the arguments for keeping the barrier tolls on the Garden State Parkway is that they slow down traffic. But they only slow it down at the toll. People just speed between them.

This will do little more. People speeding before the light will have to stop for it, and continue speeding after it. All they've done is slow them down through the intersection. And once they've learned it's there, they'll only slow down for the radar gun and speed up after.

Unexpected light changes (1)

Malc (1751) | more than 10 years ago | (#8818212)

"Is it even safe to change expected stoplight patterns, especially for drivers in a hurry?"

Intersections are dangerous and a good driver will be on the lookout to stop anyway. Being in a hurry doesn't change this. For places where there are lights without an intersection, it still doesn't matter as a good driver will concentrating on the road as unexpected things happen all the time.

I thought this was gonna be cool... (1)

Thavius (640045) | more than 10 years ago | (#8818215)

'It senses when a speeder is approaching and metes out swift punishment' I thought, "YES! they put railguns or rocket launchers on them. Or something less deadly, like paintball guns!" Then i read that it just turns the light red. Lame. The only way to combat speeders is with high explosives, every one knows that.

fits the crime (1)

avandesande (143899) | more than 10 years ago | (#8818216)

In a sense, it seems more appropriate to meat out punishment that fits the crime.
This seems better than an arbitrary ticket that costs thousands of dollars once insurance costs are factored in.
I bet you it is more effective, too.

Old news in Herndon, Virginia (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8818220)

We've had three or four of those traffic lights on the Herdon Parkway that circles the town. They've been there three or four years at least, IIRC.

I can't find any links online, tho... :-(

This makes the intersection MORE DANGEROUS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8818224)

The most dangerous problem with traffic at intersections is when someone runs a red light, risking collision with cross traffic. Once speeders realize that this light is "punishing" them, some will slow down, but unfortunately, this idea will backfire with others, causing MORE people to IGNORE the signal and run red lights, INCREASING the risk of innocent people getting injured in a collision. Bad idea!

red means stop (1)

jdkane (588293) | more than 10 years ago | (#8818226)

What if there's speeding in all four directions at the same time? Will it give all reds?

This won't work (1)

2MuchC0ffeeMan (201987) | more than 10 years ago | (#8818227)

this won't work, it will cause more trouble than it solves.

I will be the first to admit that i hate red lights, and that i speed up because 'i'm in a hurry' after hitting too many of them'

i'm not a 'huge' speeder, but i 'go with the flow', and if we're all sailing at 60mph in a 40, why should we all have to stop (and get rear ended? yay!)

Stupid. (1)

JesseL (107722) | more than 10 years ago | (#8818239)

This is just as braindead as those cities that turned out to be using short yellow lights to keep up their revenue from ticketing people running red lights. Never mind that by lengthening the yellow they could eliminate running stoplights almost entirely and dramaticly reduce accidents/save lives.

A lot of traffic engineers also seem to have this problem of wanting to treat vehicle traffic as some kind of fluid dynamics problem. Drivers realize when they are being manipulated and tend to react in unpredicted ways. Simple traffic systems with simple feedback controls work best.

Virginia has had them for atleast 10 years now. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8818240)

In Virginia they have them. It is pretty easy to see the sensor. The sensor is in the street. It has a big darker sqaure around where it's at. If you slow down as your going over it. It will not change the light. Then you get to continue speeding.
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