Ban on traffic-signal changers heads to Maryland governor

| 4/29/2004

The Maryland Senate unanimously approved a measure that would outlaw the use of a device 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.

The bill, which previously passed the House, has been forwarded to Gov. Robert Ehrlich Jr.

Sponsored by Delegate Brian Moe, D-Laurel, HB381 is intended to deter anyone other than public safety and transit agencies from using so-called mobile infrared transmitters, or MIRT.

Under the proposal, a person caught with the device would be charged with a misdemeanor punishable by 90 days in jail and a $5,000 fine, The Capital reported.

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. In Maryland, the equipment is on about 1,000 signals.