Texas targets traffic-light changers

| 1/7/2005

A Texas state lawmaker wants to outlaw the possession 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. Ryan Guillen, D-Rio Grande City, has drafted a bill intended to deter anyone other than public safety and transit agencies from possessing so-called mobile infrared transmitters, or MIRTs.

The proposal – HB190 – calls for violators to face up to a $2,000 fine and/or up to six months in jail.

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 device has 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.