Unless you live somewhere like Spain where roundabouts are the norm, it’s safe to assume you’ve probably driven through more streetlights than you can count. Most of the time we don’t give any thoughts to them, but sometimes, being held up at an intersection is an unbearable experience, and it’s not uncommon for people to break the rules of streetlight intersections.
At Diablo Controls, we specialize in creating traffic control products which can help make the roads safer for the general populace. One way that roads can be made safer is to use “smart” streetlights. In other words, streetlights that change depending on the flow of traffic, rather than following predefined, timed patterns.
Here are some advantages to smart streetlights:
They Usually Stay Green for Empty Roads
By using traffic control devices, many things on the road can be detected, observed, and tracked, such as the amount of incoming traffic, the speeds cars are driving, and so on. Our technology allows streetlight systems to know when roads are crowded, and when they’re empty.
In the case of the latter, where there is virtually no one driving, smart streetlights tend to stay green. This reduces the likelihood of people running red lights. It’s frustrating being held up by red lights at the dead of night when there’s no one else on the road, and there are many who ride straight through them. But accidents can happen. There may be a car you somehow didn’t notice. There may be a pedestrian or a biker that assumed no one would speed through the light.
By keeping the light green, impatient drivers won’t be tested by constant reds. This keeps everyone happier and reduces the likelihood of accidents.
They’re Better for Long Turn Lanes
Here’s a situation that nobody in their right mind would ever enjoy being in — you need to urgently be somewhere, but traffic is thick. You find yourself on a left turn lane that’s queued up with 20 cars in front of you. The light turns green — finally, things are moving! And then you notice about three cars get through before it goes red again. Oof.
Pre-timed streetlights don’t very well account for long lines. But a smarter system that has vehicle detection centers may react much more intelligently. If there’s a giant line of cars in one section of the intersection that’s disproportionately larger than the others, it may remain green for a longer time so drivers aren’t kept waiting for an eternity.
Why is this important? Because left turns are a major cause of accidents, especially when they’re crowded. Unprotected left turns cause people to take reckless chances if they’ve been waiting for too long. Some people see an opening and understimate the speed of oncoming traffic — you know what happens after that.
Protected lefts, on the other hand, can be equally frustrating. While oncoming traffic isn’t a concern, drivers will become restless if the protected turn cycle only lasts for five seconds or so. This makes the wait much longer, and could lead to other accidents, like people peeling out of the line unexpectedly because they don’t have the patience to wait that long.
It Works In Conjunction With Other Intersections
While it’s pretty cool to have streetlights that change depending on traffic patterns, you can really get to the next level when you have traffic systems that are communicating with each other. With sophisticated traffic control technology, it is, in fact, possible for streetlights to work in harmony with each other.
What this means is that streetlights at multiple locations might interact with each other to create a smooth traffic flow. It’s important to remember this isn’t always a guarantee — smart traffic systems put the needs of their own intersection first, but if the stars line up, it’s possible for them to work together so that drivers aren’t held up at multiple red lights.
This is, again, a cause for people speeding through reds. Nobody likes stopping continually, especially when the lights “should” be green according to the traffic levels. Again, this can lead impatient drivers to make rash decisions which put themselves and others at risk, such as speeding through red lights.
For the safest roads, it’s best to have lights which create nice long stretches of green lights whenever they can. Technology from Diablo Controls can help make that happen.
It’s Better for Pedestrians
Streetlights and intersections can be a tough time for pedestrians. While it’s easy to assume that drivers are alert and aware, sometimes that’s just not the case, and it’s scary knowing you could be hit even when you have the right of way.
But also, it can be annoying have to wait unnecessarily long amounts of time at the crosswalk, especially if there is little to no traffic. Smarter streetlight systems often consider the needs of pedestrians. It’s not exactly fair to hold up an entire line of cars just to let one person walk across the street, but it’s also frustrating when people have to wait an exceedingly long time at the crosswalk.
Smart streetlights are good at finding “win-win” scenarios which compromise between drivers and pedestrians, so that neither party has to wait an excruciating amount of time.
They Collect Valuable Data
When streetlights intelligently react to traffic patterns, they’re not just doing it through magic or sorcery, and they’re not just randomly guessing either. The data has to come from somewhere. Traffic control devices such as detection sensors can track the speed and quantity of cars passing through. While this is useful for the short-term prospect of traffic light changes, it’s also highly beneficial for the long term.
When you analyze traffic for long enough, certain patterns start to emerge — you can start to see at what time of day traffic is heaviest, how fast people are going, when pedestrian activity is high, and so on. Traffic data is invaluable to creating better driving conditions for urban areas, because they can deliberately be designed around consistent trends.
Traffic Control Products for Safer Roads
Do you have a need for traffic control products, and other similar devices such as gate access control technology and parking control? At Diablo Controls, we’re devoted to creating the best tech in the industry for these purposes. Our goal is to provide means for roads everywhere to be safer, more efficient, and overall more pleasant to drive through.
Traffic and parking control can be a complicated subject, but our products are here to help. Click here to browse the many traffic control products we offer, and of course, we’d be happy to answer any questions you might have, so don’t be afraid to contact us!