Articles > Traffic Light Intelligence - Australian Traffic Lights are dumb

The governments and road / traffic authorities of Australia (e.g. VicRoads) need to take action to improve traffic light intelligence in order to improve safety, fuel economy (carbon emissions) and to keep drivers happy.

How often have you seen a number of vehicles head towards a green traffic light, only to see it turn red, to allow just one or two stopped cars to cross the intersection? If the traffic lights had cameras and image recognition technology, it would know to keep the lights green for another few seconds to allow the group of cars to cross the intersection, then change the lights to allow the other lone car cross.

Stopping a group of cars to allow a single stopped car cross the intersection is far from fuel efficient - it is better to let the single car idle a bit longer than to cause several cars (with momentum) to stop, and have to waste fuel to re-accellerate again after the traffic lights turn green again.

The unpredictability of some traffic lights makes it difficult for drivers to drive smoothly and 'time' the traffic lights by regulating their speed so that they don't need to come to a complee stop. In some countries, traffic lights have a large countdown timer to let drivers know when the lights will change. That way, drivers don't need to guess, and can slow down much earlier - and usually by the time they approach the lights, they will turn green and the driver doesn't need to accellerate from a complete stop. When drivers approach a light that is already red, the countdown timer lets them know whether they can slowly coast towards the light to give time for them to become green, rather than drive at full speed and stop rapidly at the lights. They also have less incentive to speed or run red lights, because the stress and unpredictability is removed.


Really?, Thu, 28 Apr 2011 03:00 pm: Reply
You may want to do a tad more research next time.

In fact Australia has had an intelligent traffic light system since the 1970s in Sydney, and since 1982 in Melbourne. They already use traffic cameras and induction loops in the road to count traffic, and adapt the timing sequence accordingly.

This system developed in Australia is in use in over 100 countries worldwide.

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