Traffic lights part of the traffic problem, officials say

| Friday, April 22, 2005

No, you’re not going crazy – that stoplight at the corner really does stay red for too long.

A report by a group of independent transportation organizations, including the Federal Highway Administration, said traffic lights are a major cause for significant traffic delays. Out of more than 260,000 traffic lights in use in the United States, the study estimates that more than 75 percent need updated equipment or timing adjustments.

Non-calibrated traffic signals account for 5 to 10 percent – or 295.8 million vehicle-hours – of all traffic delays, the report said. For people who drive two hours a day, this can add up to about 50 hours of wasted road time a year, according to the report.

Part of the problem lies on the cost of repairing the lights and sensors or calibrating an intersection’s timing. The report said the price to correct a single intersection can cost anywhere from $500 to $3,000.

Some intersections can go for as long as 10 years with an inspection or correction, which can ignore factors such as detours, differences in traffic flow and broken sensors, the report said.

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