Traffic signals help keep traffic moving and reduce accidents. They can also pose a safety hazard when they fail to work properly.
Traffic engineers determine whether an intersection needs signal controls by comparing existing conditions against nationally accepted minimum guidelines (warrants). Engineers consider factors such as collision history, current traffic levels, and speeds, sight distances, prevailing road use, and geometry.
When a request for a Street Lights Installation, it sets in motion a substantial chain of tasks. Traffic signal requests are evaluated on a case-by-case basis using a set of measurable criteria. These are compared to current engineering standards and principles, and a determination is made on the most appropriate safety improvement that can be undertaken at the location.
During this process, the department must also determine whether or not a traffic signal would improve the flow of traffic at the intersection. This includes assessing how many vehicles are expected to use the location and determining how much time drivers should spend waiting for a green light.
Traffic signals can be incredibly useful, but they are only installed in locations where their installation is justified by safety and mobility concerns. Unnecessary signals create delays that frustrate drivers, increase the number of rear-end collisions, cause traffic to divert onto local residential streets, and waste gasoline and carbon monoxide emissions.
Most of the time, people don’t think about traffic signals beyond their disdain for catching red lights or praise for speeding through greens. But these are important pieces of equipment that keep traffic moving at intersections and different junctures along roadways, keeping everyone safe while reducing traffic congestion and crashes.
These systems vary, from a simple dial timer that changes the signal at predetermined intervals to an actuated system that can change according to traffic movements using sensors like overhead devices and in-road detectors like pressure plates or inductive loops. Whatever the setup, all have to be maintained and updated as traffic patterns change.
A good preventive maintenance plan should include replacing lamps before they reach their end of life; routine checking of voltage; and re-evaluation of signal timings every 3 to 5 years or when significant changes in traffic patterns occur. A good maintenance shop should also have an inventory of spare equipment to provide replacements promptly for any problems that arise.
When a traffic signal goes down or malfunctions, it can cause anxiety and frustration for drivers. It’s important to know the right way to handle these situations.
When a signal malfunctions, the best thing to do is to continue through the intersection cautiously. It’s important to observe your surroundings and look for authorized personnel who may be directing traffic. If you see this type of person, follow their direction while waiting until they’ve cleared the intersection.
Repairing traffic signals is a vital part of the electrical construction industry and requires professional IMSA-certified electricians to do it correctly. This work includes re-wiring, re-programming, and replacing advanced solid-state traffic signal controllers, signal heads, and poles. Preventative maintenance is also a part of this work. This involves reviewing the signal on a cyclical basis to replace conflict monitors, and cabinet filters, clean around cabinets, treat poles and span wire for pest infestations, and ensure that detection is working properly.
When Traffic Loop Contractors, it can confuse drivers. Generally, the signal will right itself after a short period. However, if light stays stuck red or does not change to green when pedestrians and other vehicles are ready to cross, drivers should treat it like a stop sign and proceed with caution.
Traffic engineers perform a thorough evaluation before any traffic signal is installed at an intersection. They take into account the current and expected traffic volume, types of crashes, future development plans, roadway conditions, and the amount of traffic on adjacent streets.
If you would like to request a traffic signal study, please write to the Commissioner of NYC DOT. Each district has a team of Traffic Operations staff that will review your letter and determine whether the signal timing should be changed. The request must be submitted in writing and may take up to 12 weeks to process. Traffic signals reduce right-angle collisions and increase rear-end collisions on major roads.