Alaska joins states targeting traffic-light devices

| Monday, January 26, 2004

Alaska has joined the growing list of states to pursue legislation that would outlaw controllers that can change some traffic signals from red to green.

Measures targeting the devices have recently been introduced in several state legislatures, including California, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan and Missouri.

A traffic-light changer is designed to allow police, fire and other emergency officials to clear intersections before they approach. But some impatient drivers have managed to purchase them on the Internet.

Senate President Gene Therriault, R-North Pole, introduced a bill in Alaska Jan. 12 to ban the sale or use of mobile infrared transmitters, or MIRT, by anyone other than public safety and transit agencies.

Under SB255, anyone caught using the device could be charged with a Class A misdemeanor.

The devices, which sit on a vehicle’s dash, are not regulated by current federal standards because they rely on a beam of light instead of a radio wave to trigger the light-changing mechanisms that have been attached to some intersections.

A recent U.S. Department of Transportation survey showed the devices are in use at 26,500 intersections in 78 cities across the country.