I was out early this morning and sat at 5 different stoplights for 2 or 3 minutes each, while nobody crossed the intersection. Yesterday when I was trying to get my daughter to the doctor on time I waited for a left turn light for 3 cycles, during each cycle it only let about 2 cars through.

Can't somebody sort this out? I know that the early morning, with almost no cars on the road, is probably not a big priority for traffic engineers, but even crazier stoplight innefficiencies crop up when more cars are on the road. I bet that we could save a lot of fuel and pollution just by improving the way stoplights work, not to mention frustration.

It seems like some bright engineers could figure out a cheep way to do this. Some simple rules (that assume some kind of camera system that can recognize it):

  • Don't switch the light if no cars are coming the other way

  • Deeper queues get more green

  • Manage systems of lights so that blocks of cars can drive through several green lights

Still, I appreciate that sometimes such things are a lot more difficult than they seem.

Some interesting links on the subject:

Smart Stoplights

Why is traffic flow out of sync? Stoplight timing, think tank's writers say

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