What are smart traffic lights?
We’ve all been stuck at an impossibly long red light from time to time in the Portland or Vancouver metro areas. Traffic seems to inch along at the slowest possible pace while you wonder if you’re going to be late for work.
Traffic lights contractors often have their hands full trying to control traffic patterns and keep vehicles moving using outdated equipment. However, with new smart traffic lights coming online, there is hope for a better commute to work, to school, or (on good days) the coast.
Imagine a traffic management system that can learn, predict, monitor and respond to traffic conditions and demands. Artificial intelligence for the win!
Making the switch to smart traffic systems
Other countries have been using adaptive traffic control technologies for the better part of the last three decades. However, due to the high costs of traffic studies, communication networks, and hardware for controlling signals, most cities in the United States have been slower to adopt the technology.
Often, cities and municipalities wait until costs drop significantly before investing in this new traffic control measures. This patience — whether due to inadequate budgets or the determination that the money isn’t yet worth the investment — is starting to pay off. Today’s smart traffic lights feature improved technology for faster processors, increased memory and upgraded hardware. Plus, the addition of communication networks and detector technology provides more functionality.
Traffic lights contractors are thrilled about the advances, and the time has come for everybody to come online. Cities are slowly beginning to upgrade and install new smart, timed traffic lights, helping build a nationwide intelligent transport system.
How adaptive traffic lights work
Most cities are still using older-generation traffic lights, which change according to specified intervals during busy times of the day. Traffic is also controlled by detectors embedded in the pavement to change signals on demand when a vehicle enters the roadway. Any traffic light contractor will tell you that the old system works, but new smart light lights are far superior.
New adaptive traffic systems can gather more data and adjust signal lengths in real-time. The control system can record traffic information where the unit is installed and receive traffic updates from all the other lights down the line with the use of detectors and cameras. With this information, the system can adjust the lights accordingly to improve traffic flow, adjust light cycle length, and move a greater number of vehicles through the intersection.
Smart traffic signals reduce inefficiency. Real-time transmissions decrease the time drivers spend waiting at traffic lights or idling at empty intersections. Since traffic lights work together as a network, patterns are identified immediately, which means lights can be adjusted in seconds to improve vehicle flow.
Smart traffic light benefits
- Faster, more enjoyable commutes during rush hour travel times
- May reduce accidents and make the streets safer for drivers and pedestrians
- Improves city driving by reducing travel time and stress
- Real-time travel data helps determine if inefficiencies exist and where improvements are necessary
- Reduced air pollutants along congested city streets
- Reduced cost of operating vehicles on city streets
If you need to retrofit lights, install traffic lights or require electrical services of any kind for commercial, industrial or residential purposes, contact Prairie Electric today for quick, dependable service.
Our robust suite of utility services includes:
- Traffic light installations
- Retrofits to existing traffic signals
- School zone flashing beacons
- Excavating services for utility trench
- Fire preemption systems
- Video camera installation
- Ramp meter monitoring
- Traffic detection loops
- Pedestrian crosswalks
- Highway and street lighting
We’re proud to serve the Portland and Vancouver metro areas with superior electrical services. We’re also happy to have been named Subcontractor of the Year by The Daily Journal of Commerce.
Prairie Electric is known for professionalism, execution, and honesty. Call us today!