controllers sold over the Internet are illegal in Michigan, the
state's Department of Transportation announced recently.
The devices are designed
to take advantage of a traffic signal function meant for use by
emergency response personnel. Firefighters have the devices on
their trucks so as they approach intersections, the light will
change to green and allow the fire truck to arrive more quickly
at the site of an emergency.
However, recently, the
devices have become available to the public through certain Internet
sites, some of which cater to motorcycle enthusiasts.
MDOT officials conducted
research to determine whether the devices were legal in Michigan.
On Oct. 29, the agency released a statement that under a 1949
law forbidding interfering with a traffic signal, they are against
the law. The agency now wants the Legislature to take further
"We support the proper
use of these devices by first responders in appropriate situations,
and we look forward to working with the Legislature in making
prohibitions on these devices more explicit and the penalties
for their illegal use much tougher." Transportation Director
Gloria J. Jeff said in a statement. "While banning their
use is fine as far as it goes, at the end of the day improper
ownership and use of these devices presents a serious public safety
threat that is not adequately addressed by the threat of a civil
fine and confiscation, which is the current penalty."
The Detroit News reported
Oct. 31 that State Rep. Aldo Vagnozzi, D-Farmington Hills, had
proposed a bill to make the use or sale of the devices a felony.
In addition, the purchase, possession or use of traffic-light
changers would be against the law under a bill proposed by Michigan
Sens. Tony Stamas, R-Midland, and Jud Gilbert, R-Algonac.