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Why Haven’t Traffic Signals Changed With The Times?


Have you ever noticed, no matter what your age, that one thing on our roadways has remained constant: The colors of our traffic lights? Since elementary school, we have been taught red, white and green. But why has the stop light never been changed…and could it be changing soon?

A Big Change and a Big Project

One major reason why there have been no changes in colors or design to the traffic lights that we know so well is that doing so would be a multi-year multimillion dollar project, coordinated with all the states (uniformity among the states is necessary for safety). And while doing that is technically possible, there’s one thing that is largely preventing it from happening: The anticipated proliferation of autonomous (self-driving) cars, or AVs.

The arrival of AVs

When AVs hit the road, they won’t just be driving themselves. They will be communicating with each other, almost like a hive of bees or a hill of ants, all coordinating their movements in relation to one another.

They also will be communicating with and coordinating with, traffic signals. That means that the traffic signals have to be technologically advanced enough to “speak” to AVs, and even, possibly, to take control of the AVs that go through the intersection, to direct them where to go and keep accidents from happening.

A New Color?

One possible change to the traffic light, is the inclusion of a fourth color (proposed possibly, to be white). This fourth light would tell the human driver that the traffic control signal has taken control of the vehicle (and the others around it), and thus, that the driver should just allow the AV to do what it is doing.

This is to avoid a human from “interacting” with the AV, and thus, potentially interfering with the traffic light’s coordination of the traffic in the intersection.

The light also would help those who are driving non-AVs as well. The human driver in a “normal” car would know to just do what the car in front of him or her is doing. That may be stopping, or just following the car in front, but either way, the driver would know that all he or she has to do is to do what the car in front of him is doing.

Models Show it Works

This fourth light idea has been studied in computer models. Using AI, the models can simulate traffic patterns and driver behavior, and in most cases, the models found that the white lights did decrease the number of traffic accidents.

It also helped traffic flow—even when only a small percentage of the cars on the road were AVs. There was a 10% improvement in traffic flow, with the white light, and assuming that only 30% of the cars on the road were AVs.

Contact the Miami personal injury attorneys at Velasquez & Associates P.A. today to discuss your car accident or getting compensation for your injuries in a car accident.




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