We’ve all been stuck at a impossibly long red traffic signal 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’ll be late for work. Traffic signal contractors have had their hands full trying to control traffic patterns and keep vehicles moving using outdated equipment. However, with new smart traffic signals, there is hope for a better commute to work. Just imagine a traffic control system that can learn, predict, monitor and respond to traffic conditions and demands.

Electricians tearing down an old traffic signal at Lake Slough.Making the switch to smart traffic systems

Other countries have been using adaptive traffic control technologies for about the last 30 years. However, due to the high costs for traffic studies, communication networks and hardware for controlling signals, most U.S. cities opted to wait until costs dropped significantly. Well, that time has come, and slowly cities are beginning to upgrade and install new smart traffic signals.

Waiting to install the new smart traffic signals has really paid off with improved technology for processors, memory and upgraded hardware. The addition of communication networks and detector technology provides more functionality and traffic signal contractors are thrilled about the advances.

How adaptive traffic signals work

Most cities are still using older-generation traffic signals, 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 signals 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, it can adjust the lights accordingly to improve traffic flow, change the light cycle length and move a greater number of vehicles through the intersection.

Inefficiencies are greatly reduced and real-time transmissions decrease waiting times at traffic lights or sitting 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 signal benefits

  • Provide a faster and more enjoyable commute 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.
  • Provides real time data on travel times to determine if inefficiencies exist and where improvements could be made.
  • Reduce air pollutants in congested city streets.
  • Lowers the cost of operating a vehicle on city streets.

If you need to retrofit signals, install traffic lights or require electrical services of any kind for commercial, industrial or residential purposes, contact Prairie Electric today for quick, dependable services.