generalHuman Geography

Building a better traffic light

Traffic is always a problem in every country where lots of people live. The noise, pollution, and physical danger to motorists and the poor shlubs trying to cross the street can be daunting. That’s why the good folks at Nissan have proposed solving this problem with a simple solution – a better traffic light. They haven’t gotten the thing built yet, but they’re collecting a ton of data to figure out how to make it better. It seems to me that today’s traffic lights are pretty sophisticated, so I’m a tad skeptical that Nissan can bring anything radically new to the table. But Nissan has proven me wrong in other areas before, so here’s hoping they can make a positive impact!

One thought on “Building a better traffic light

  1. After reading the press release I can share your skepticism. There are no real new concepts the write about.
    Here in the Netherlands, as in many other countries, the collection of traffic data has become quite commonplace. The data is used in several GIS-like applications. A recent development is the communication of this data to satnav systems.
    The programms for traffic installations are quite complicated and, with the feedback from detection systems, quite flexible.
    Also, communication to pedestrians and other road users is common. In Sofia (Bulgaria) for example, a simple counter counts back the seconds to the change of the light.

    I think the road safety aspect that the press release mentions could be in conflict with the enviromental aspect.
    I took part in an invantarisation of the effects of synchronizing a string of trafficlights. The results were remarkable. The contribution of air pollution by traffic decreased significantly. (Cars are most fuel efficient driving at a constant speed with low revs). The side effect was that pedestrian and bicycle traffic had to wait a little longer at their lights (yes, NL has seperate lights for bicycles).This could result in people crossing during a red light. However, a survey showed that the people felt that the waiting time was acceptible.

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