Ban on traffic-signal changers advances in New Jersey

| 12/17/2004

The New Jersey Assembly unanimously approved a measure Dec. 13 that would outlaw the use of devices 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 drivers have managed to purchase them on the Internet for as low as a couple of hundred dollars, according to published reports.

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

Assembly lawmakers voted 78-0 to send the bill to the Senate for consideration.

Sponsored by Assemblywoman Linda Stender, D-Middlesex, the bill – 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 fine.

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.