Traffic-light changers targeted in Kentucky

| 12/22/2004

A Kentucky state lawmaker wants to 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.

State Rep. John Vincent, R-Ashland, has drafted a bill 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 using the device could be fined up to $500. A person involved in an accident resulting in injuries while using the device could face jail time in addition to a 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.

The devices have been in use at intersections since the early 1970s.

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