Ban on traffic-signal changers advances in New Jersey

| 10/12/2004

A New Jersey Assembly panel has 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, firefighters and other emergency officials to clear intersections before they approach. But some 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 changers themselves.

The Assembly Transportation Committee voted unanimously to advance the bill to the full Assembly for consideration.

Sponsored by Assemblywoman Linda Stender, D-Middlesex, A649 is intended to deter anyone other than public safety and transit agencies from using so-called mobile infrared transmitters, or MIRTs.

Under the proposal, a person caught with the device would be subject to a fine up to $5,000.

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.