Texas Gov. Rick Perry has
signed a bill into law outlawing 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 less than a couple of hundred dollars.
The new law, previously
HB364, is intended to deter anyone other than public safety and transit
agencies from possessing mobile infrared transmitters, or MIRTs.
“Infrared transmitters with
the capability of changing traffic lights have become accessible to the general
public via the Internet and other avenues,” Rep. Glen Hegar, R-Katy, said in a
written statement. “This bill will directly address this problem and save lives
by preventing dangerous situations on Texas roads and intersections.”
Violators could face a $500
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.
When a signal changer on a
traffic light detects an approaching emergency vehicle equipped with the
device, the light responds accordingly. If the light is red, the signal changer
will immediately give vehicles in other directions a yellow light, followed by
a red light. The emergency vehicle will get a green light until it passes
through the intersection.
The device has been in use
at intersections since the early 1970s.