Utah House panel OKs bill targeting traffic signal changers

| 1/28/2004

The Utah House Transportation Committee approved legislation Jan. 21 that would outlaw controllers that can change some traffic signals from red to green.

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 for as low as $100, according to published reports.

People can even buy kits and build the signal changer themselves.

HB201, sponsored by state Rep. John Dougall, R-Highland, would prohibit the possession or use of mobile infrared transmitters, or MIRT, by anyone except emergency personnel.

The bill now heads to the full House for consideration.

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.