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Power Transportation

Midwest Seeing Red Over 'Green' Traffic Lights 839

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the do-you-see-what-i-see dept.
theodp writes "Many municipalities have switched to LED traffic signals because they burn brighter, last longer and use 90% less energy than incandescent bulbs. But they also emit less heat, meaning they sometimes have trouble melting snow, causing problems across the Midwest. In Wisconsin, snow blanketed LED traffic lights in some towns, leading to crashes at intersections where drivers weren't sure whether to stop or go. The unintended consequences of the green technology were also identified as a 'contributing factor' in the death of an Illinois woman hit by a driver who blamed the snow-covered energy-efficient signal for giving the appearance of a normal green light instead of a left-turn signal. 'We can remove the snow with heat, but the cost of doing that in terms of energy use has not brought any enthusiasm from cities and states that buy these signals,' said the CEO of an LED traffic-signal manufacturer. 'They'd like to be able to take away this issue, but they don't want to spend the money and lose the savings.' In the meantime, some towns are addressing sporadic problems by dispatching crews to remove snow or ice from signals using poles, brooms, and heating devices." We were discussing these recently at the office — several folks in the building are red/green color blind and different street lights are differently distinguishable.
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Midwest Seeing Red Over 'Green' Traffic Lights

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 30, 2009 @09:58AM (#30593428)

    Oh that's right... we do! If you get to an intersection and the light isn't working or isn't visible, you treat it like a four-way stop.

  • by alen (225700) on Wednesday December 30, 2009 @10:00AM (#30593466)

    idiot driver should be prosecuted since everyone knows the third light from the top is regular green and not a turn signal. i've seen intersections with broken lights before and people are very careful when they go and make sure the other guy is going to yield.

    some people are always in a constant state of hurry and can't seem to wait a few seconds

  • Good Advice (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Frigga's Ring (1044024) on Wednesday December 30, 2009 @10:00AM (#30593470)

    In Wisconsin, snow blanketed LED traffic lights in some towns, leading to crashes at intersections where drivers weren't sure whether to stop or go

    If you're not sure to stop or go, the answer is "stop". I can understand if it's dark and you don't see the traffic lights because they're covered with snow, but if the lights at the intersection aren't working, that doesn't mean the light is green. It means stop and go when it's safe to.

  • duh (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 30, 2009 @10:00AM (#30593490)

    why don't they just angle the lenses downwards with less of a hood? problem solved.

  • New design needed? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by nschubach (922175) on Wednesday December 30, 2009 @10:02AM (#30593512) Journal

    Maybe the lights need to take on a new form? What kind of problems would arise from coating each LED's sides with black paint (to replicate the duty of the indirect sun shades) and spacing the LEDs out so snow can pass through them? Or possibly shaping the LED or a cover as a cone shape so that it's harder to cover with snow?

  • by nschubach (922175) on Wednesday December 30, 2009 @10:03AM (#30593528) Journal

    I thought of this, but in the snow cover situation, only one side thinks it's a four way stop. You'd have to have a "snow sensor" and shut down all 4 sides of the light for that to work.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 30, 2009 @10:11AM (#30593650)

    How about just making them so the circular face of the light is angled downwards, most snow wouldn't stick. I.e. |=/ (front)

    [note the actual back panel isn't angled downwards just the clear glass/plastic frontage)

    If the snow does stick in that configuration then I think you have more to worry about than just difficulty in reading the traffic lights!

  • by Junior J. Junior III (192702) on Wednesday December 30, 2009 @10:12AM (#30593652) Homepage

    Red/Green colorblindness is nothing new; that's why the lights are standardized to have green at the bottom and red at the top. If you can't distinguish red from green, you can at least distinguish top from bottom. Why is that not a perfectly acceptable solution?

  • The problem is, this doesn't just cover the light,it apparently also can make a signal appear to be something it is not.

    This is a severe problem. If they were simply obscured, you are right, fairly easy to deal with. But if they appear to not be obscured, but the snow causes misinterpretation as apparently has happened, bad things will happen that are not the fault of the drivers, but the idiots who installed these systems without the manufacturers option for a heating element.

  • by bigtrike (904535) on Wednesday December 30, 2009 @10:15AM (#30593708)

    Why would the heaters have to use much energy? It sounds like they're not needed very often. You could automatically trigger them via external light/temperature sensors with some minimal processing or modify the red light camera software to trigger them. The only real downside is massively increasing the complexity of what is currently a very simple device.

    A simpler answer might be to train people that they actually need to slow down if a traffic signal is not fully visible.

  • by CrazyDuke (529195) on Wednesday December 30, 2009 @10:15AM (#30593710)

    It's not always that they are in a hurry. It's often just a plain old sense of entitlement.

  • by nschubach (922175) on Wednesday December 30, 2009 @10:17AM (#30593752) Journal

    It's apparently not an exclusive right of the US of A.

  • by i.r.id10t (595143) on Wednesday December 30, 2009 @10:23AM (#30593856)

    Or have a snow-sensor and kick on a small heating device...

    Sure, you are using more N-R-G by creating the heat to do it with so the technology is less green, but even this southern non-snow savvy guy realizes that using *some* N-R-G during a few months of the year to de-ice/melt/whatever is better than creating waste heat with inefficient lighting 24/7/365

    Besides, what is the "green" cost of a car accident where oil, gas, battery acid, etc. may be spilled, as well as emergency vehicles cranking up and running to the scene, etc?

  • by BobMcD (601576) on Wednesday December 30, 2009 @10:32AM (#30594032)

    This kind of comment is harmful on many levels...

    1) Being 'stupid' is subjective.

    2) Classifying large groups of people as 'stupid' is divisive and elitist

    3) Labeling this behavior as 'stupid' implies both an acceptance of the inability to change it AND an implicit protection from the consequences of their behaviors

    If you really do think a portion of the 'US of A' is 'stupid', please do us all a favor and stop saying so. You're only perpetuating the problem when the truth is the vast majority of adults are 'smart' enough to operate an intersection correctly.

  • by DJRumpy (1345787) on Wednesday December 30, 2009 @10:33AM (#30594036)

    Why aren't they using sloped lenses and hoods for these? Essentially putting blinders on them with no bottom so that snow isn't allowed to collect inside the enclosure?

  • by Richard Steiner (1585) <rsteiner@visi.com> on Wednesday December 30, 2009 @10:34AM (#30594058) Homepage Journal

    Heck, even a manually switched heat function would be sufficient. A cop or city employee could turn it on whenever the light seems like it's blocked.

  • In Canada... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 30, 2009 @10:44AM (#30594240)

    We have LED lights all over the place. Keep in mind this is the fucking ice and snow kingdom now... Sometimes stop signs get completely covered in white gunk.
    So in a land of ice and snow that covers everything in white shit from hell, we had to come up with a genius little device.
    Wait for it...
    Wait for it...

    You're gonna love this one: A fucking roof.
    No I'm serious, our lights have a little tin projection. Like a cylinder cut diagonally so that drivers can see the light and bird shit (or snow) can't hit it.

    Need a picture? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Modern_British_LED_Traffic_Light.jpg
    Yep it's British and probably has a hidden CCTV camera in each hood but same idea.

    We even have electric heaters in/on our oil pans to pre-warm engine oil. Nifty eh?

  • by King_TJ (85913) on Wednesday December 30, 2009 @10:46AM (#30594268) Journal

    True, but I don't think this was nearly as much about "going green" as it was "saving green". Local govt. all over the country has been proving time and time again that their *true* primary goal revolves around generating revenue and cutting costs, vs. motorist safety. Look at all the red light cameras they've been installing. Studies keep showing they cause MORE rear-end collisions, and they certainly create a number of legal and ethical questions. (EG. Most police departments have an internal policy or "code of ethics" stating they will keep private business out of their revenue collection process - yet they hire private contractors to both install AND run the red light cameras, with them getting a lion's share of the "cut" of each ticket that's paid!) But they really like the big boost to their bottom line they create, so screw the detractors!

    And in this case, you see the same behavior.... Problem identified with new LED traffic signals and snow, but obvious solutions SLOW to be implemented, because it negatively impacts their cost-savings potential.

  • by d3ac0n (715594) on Wednesday December 30, 2009 @10:48AM (#30594302)

    You obviously don't live where it snows regularly.

    In the midwest winds can really get moving. (flat terrain, open spaces with minimal tree cover) and when it snows, it snows sideways and it can be very "sticky" (lightly frozen) snow. Thus you get situations where you have a traffic light that looks like someone took a flocking gun to it. All white on one side, clear on the other. All the slopey lenses and bottomless covers in the world won't help that. Also, those are already in use anyway and they aren't helping.

    It should be noted that this also illustrates the law of unintended consequences very well. All this "green" tech is fine and dandy, until some adverse weather shows up. Then you're wishing you still had that SUV, or proper stoplight bulbs, or whatever it was that you gave up to save 2 cents with "green" tech.

    In the end it would probably be cheaper to just stick with the "old style" incandescent traffic lights that don't need fancy "snow melters" or snow crews to clear them.

    If the city is paying too much in power bills, rather than swapping to LED stoplights, maybe they should consider allowing a power company to build a power plant of some kind nearby. The solution to high energy costs is not always conservation, often it's to create a larger supply.

  • by The Rizz (1319) on Wednesday December 30, 2009 @10:49AM (#30594336)

    I live in North Dakota, we've had these LED traffic lights for years, and I cannot remember the last time I saw one totally snowed up. The shields that curve over the top of the traffic lights here do an adequate job of keeping the snow from coating the signals - including during the 3-day blizzard we had last week (I had to drive in it each of those 3 days, so trust me - they worked).

    If they're not working in other states, than either their storms are somehow worse than ND's, or they've cheaped out on the snow shields that go over the top of the lights. I know which one I'd put my money on...

  • by vlm (69642) on Wednesday December 30, 2009 @10:54AM (#30594452)

    Yep, Midwest snow isn't powdery. It's a very wet snow that sticks to things.

    I live in the area discussed in the articles. Snow is just snow. 99% of the time its a nice fluffy powder. The other 1% of the time its more accurately called "freezing rain". If you live within a few feet of the great lakes, then its a little different.

    The problem with the lights is they had no engineering constraint to prevent snow accumulation, but they had a huge engineering constraint to make it easy fast and safe for a dude on a ladder to replace the incandescent bulbs that keep burning out.

    Someone sold them the idea that all they need to do is swap the bulbs... Turns out its not so simple.

    Its trivial to make a light fixture that wont ice up, just make it perfectly smooth and sealed and vaguely concave... In the unlikely event of failure (lightning?) unscrew and replace the entire light unit from the bottom (not the whole pole, just the light box).

  • by Qzukk (229616) on Wednesday December 30, 2009 @10:55AM (#30594462) Journal

    Most of the driving rules, in terms of real safety, are overly cautious. "Best Practice" guidelines at best

    The driving rules are designed to protect drivers who obey the rules from other drivers who are obeying the rules, thus we're commanded on what side of the road to drive on, who goes first at a stop sign, what lanes you're allowed to turn from, when we're allowed to pass slow drivers, and so on.

    The problem is that nothing but attentiveness and reaction time will protect people from drivers who are not obeying the rules.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 30, 2009 @10:56AM (#30594474)

    How many people get red light ticks from this?

    Even if you act like it's a 4 way stop you can get hit with a $100+ ticket.

  • Re:duh (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Abstrackt (609015) on Wednesday December 30, 2009 @10:56AM (#30594492)

    why don't they just angle the lenses downwards with less of a hood? problem solved.

    I'm going out on a limb here, but you probably don't live somewhere that gets a lot of snow. Don't get me wrong, I think your idea would work in a lot of scenarios but not all of them. Where I live, we get the odd blizzard that puts a thick layer of ice and snow on everything. The wind pushes sticky snow at seemingly impossible angles preventing you from making out any lights or signs.

  • Re:Simple (Score:3, Insightful)

    by zippthorne (748122) on Wednesday December 30, 2009 @11:01AM (#30594576) Journal

    So, against a whole year of savings, they can't accept five or six days of artificial heating? It has to be all or nothing?

    What are the addresses of these math deficient city managers, so that local engineers can visit them and slap them in the face with an intro thermodynamics book.

  • by Qzukk (229616) on Wednesday December 30, 2009 @11:02AM (#30594600) Journal

    against the recommendations of professionals.

    Can you find anyone who was recommending against these bulbs before they were installed, or as they say, is hindsight 20/20? I wouldn't be surprised if nobody actually knew that the lightbulbs were why snow didn't stick to the streetlights, since that's the way they've always been (maybe there had been tests run with florescent bulbs previous to the LED bulbs?).

  • by RobertM1968 (951074) on Wednesday December 30, 2009 @11:08AM (#30594684) Homepage Journal

    Or have a snow-sensor and kick on a small heating device...

    Sure, you are using more N-R-G by creating the heat to do it with so the technology is less green, but even this southern non-snow savvy guy realizes that using *some* N-R-G during a few months of the year to de-ice/melt/whatever is better than creating waste heat with inefficient lighting 24/7/365

    Besides, what is the "green" cost of a car accident where oil, gas, battery acid, etc. may be spilled, as well as emergency vehicles cranking up and running to the scene, etc?

    That's the best suggestion. And it's trivial, extremely cheap technology. Outdoor surveillance cameras have used it for years - some even with dehumidifier devices as well.

    And the beauty is, even when the heater is on, it will still use less energy than the incandescent light, since it only needs to heat the lenses to a certain level over freezing temperature. So, I'd expect, even with the heaters on, there should be a decent savings in electric costs.

  • Re:Good Advice (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Alarindris (1253418) on Wednesday December 30, 2009 @11:10AM (#30594722)
    Right, but as someone above pointed out, in the snow situation, only one side (or maybe two) thinks it's a four way, everyone else is following the lights.
  • by Sulphur (1548251) on Wednesday December 30, 2009 @11:24AM (#30594994)

    The truly bottomless hoods are in Cicero and Washington.

  • by TheCarp (96830) <sjc AT carpanet DOT net> on Wednesday December 30, 2009 @11:27AM (#30595068) Homepage

    Up to a point sure. However, you don't have to obey all of the rules 100%, or even CLOSE to it, to drive safely with other drivers who are obeying the rules, or attentitively breaking them like you are (which is what the vast majority of drivers do, NOBODY obeys ALL of the rules 100%)

    I don't think we need more rules, most of them could be relaxed, and relaxed a lot. The only evidence that I need is that, as I said, the majority of drivers relax the rules and drive as such already. I do not believe that it makes sense to set the bar for proper driving above what the average person is actually going to do on the road.

    The real problem is NOT the people breaking the rules on purpose. They generally are paying attention, know the rules, and are ready to make adjustments. The problem is the people who either don't know the rules in the first place, or aren't paying attention. There is a HUGE difference between rolling through a stop sign at an empty intersection with unobstructed visibility, and rolling through without even looking because you were playing with your radio.

    Who cares if I only bring my car down to second gear at stop signs? I am ready to stop. If theres another car who has right of way, I stop. If theres no other cars, I am slow enough to stop if I need to because someone else is blowing through, so no safety hazard is caused. If i have enough visibility to roll through at the speed that I am rolling through, and the situation isn't a dangerous one, then... how exactly does the rule make sense?

  • by Duradin (1261418) on Wednesday December 30, 2009 @11:57AM (#30595694)

    These people saying just slope the lens and don't give it a floor have obviously never seen perfectly vertical and flat road signs that are totally plastered over by snow and thus unreadable. Snow can stick like a bastard.

  • by mcgrew (92797) * on Wednesday December 30, 2009 @12:13PM (#30595970) Homepage Journal

    In the end it would probably be cheaper to just stick with the "old style" incandescent traffic lights that don't need fancy "snow melters" or snow crews to clear them.

    I don't see what's so fancy about a heating element. It's not really that high tech, after all. And the cost isn't the only factor; we do have global warming to deal with.

    All this "green" tech is fine and dandy, until some adverse weather shows up. Then you're wishing you still had that SUV...

    Not me. More people die in SUVs per passenger mile than any other vehicle, and when it's slick out is when it's the most dangerous. SUVs don't have the crumple zones of other vehicles, and handle like drunken cows. Their weight makes them harder to stop, especially when it's slick. If you're out in the country you may need four wheel drive, but a four wheel drive sedan is more effective than a four wheel drive SUV, and far more effective than a two wheel drive SUV. A four wheel drive minivan would be the best bet, as it can hold as many (or often more) passengers as an SUV, but is the safest vehicle on the road.

    You feel safer in an SUV, but the opposite is true -- you're in far more danger than any other kind of passenger vehicle. I can't imagine why anyone would transport their children in one of these dangerous, wasteful cars.

  • by copponex (13876) on Wednesday December 30, 2009 @12:49PM (#30596674) Homepage

    All this "green" tech is fine and dandy, until some adverse weather shows up. Then you're wishing you still had that SUV, or proper stoplight bulbs, or whatever it was that you gave up to save 2 cents with "green" tech.

    What? Heavy SUVs are extremely bad choices for winter weather. Light cars with AWD are vastly superior.

    If you want to dump 80% energy savings because it's less convenient during blizzard conditions, I'm fairly sure you don't understand what ROI means.

    The solution to high energy costs is not always conservation, often it's to create a larger supply

    If you think it's cheaper to build a power plant than to purchase LED stoplights with some sort of simple heating element, I'm also fairly sure you're delusional.

    AGW = Flat Earth Theory

    Ahh. Your sig explains everything...

  • by plague3106 (71849) on Wednesday December 30, 2009 @01:01PM (#30596848)

    You gloss over Katrina as if it were nothing. Snow doesn't do anywhere near the amount of damage hurricanes and tornadoes do.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 30, 2009 @01:06PM (#30596932)

    You feel safer in an SUV, but the opposite is true -- you're in far more danger than any other kind of passenger vehicle. I can't imagine why anyone would transport their children in one of these dangerous, wasteful cars.

    That's the answer, right there. To the SUV drivers I've known (and still know), it's all about themselves - how 'safe' and how 'cool' they feel and look.

    There's a time and place for these things, but as a general use vehicle in urban or suburban areas, they're a really bad choice.

  • by hazem (472289) on Wednesday December 30, 2009 @01:12PM (#30597014) Journal

    It is one thing to update tech if it gives significant improvement in functionality, but, just doing it to be fashionably 'green' is not the way to do IMHO.

    From the traffic manuals I've helped write, the LED traffic lights do indeed offer significantly improved functionality over incandescent lights in ways that are not related to "being green".

    Actually, the "green" is a bluish color of green that makes it easier for people with color deficiency to tell from nearby white street lights (this is huge, being somewhat color blind myself - suppose it's raining at night and there are street lights near the stop light. For me, it's sometimes difficult to distinguish the green light from the nearby street light; only when it turns yellow and red can I tell which one belongs to the stop light. With the new ones, I have no problem at all.)

    They're also made up of many LED elements per "light" so that when one inevitably burns out, most of the light still functions before a replacement can be done (say one of the green LEDs burns out - you still have several green LEDs working). With incandescent, when you lose red, you lose it completely. This improves safety for drivers and allows more flexibility in scheduling the work crews to replace the lights.

    The LED lights are also brighter and more intense than the incandescent lights, making them more visible from farther way and in a wider range of ambient light conditions. (The incandescent lights don't do very well when the sun is directly behind you as you face a light - I think part of this is that the incandescent lights have a reflector behind the bulb, like a flashlight does - so the sunlight enters the lens from the front and then reflects back out. The LEDs don't have this reflector around the bulb).

    Plus, the LED lights last significantly longer than the incandescent lights. You save money on the labor of replacing them - as well as reducing the safety risks to the work crews who have to go work in the street.

    Of course, every new technology has unanticipated side effects, and the inability of the LED lights to melt off snow is one of them. But really, that's just an engineering problem that several people here have already suggested good solutions for.

    In a similar vain, when I worked as a sysadmin at a university, we had a computer lab with 30 computers and we had the heat (old water pipes) permanently turned off because the monitors gave off enough heat to keep the room comfortable, even in winter. After we switched to LCD monitors, students started complaining that the lab was always too cold and we had to have maintenance come in and bring the heat back online. Likewise, an unintended consequence of a newer technology.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 30, 2009 @02:00PM (#30597740)

    I've never seen the problem here in Wisconsin until this storm though. This was a barely 32 degreee heavy snow in high winds that caused the issue. If it was 2-3 degrees cooler, it never would have stuck. Anything that was cold enough not to melt snow had snow stuck to it, even the antenna on my car had half an inch of snow in the direction the wind was blowing from. It was very strange seeing literally EVERYTHING with snow stuck to it. (and very pretty)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 30, 2009 @02:02PM (#30597776)

    I don't think we need more rules, most of them could be relaxed, and relaxed a lot. The only evidence that I need is that, as I said, the majority of drivers relax the rules and drive as such already. I do not believe that it makes sense to set the bar for proper driving above what the average person is actually going to do on the road.

    ~40K dead Americans per year say you are wrong.

    The real problem is NOT the people breaking the rules on purpose. They generally are paying attention, know the rules, and are ready to make adjustments. The problem is the people who either don't know the rules in the first place, or aren't paying attention. There is a HUGE difference between rolling through a stop sign at an empty intersection with unobstructed visibility, and rolling through without even looking because you were playing with your radio.

    After 20 years of studying drivers and how accidents happen, I can tell you that you are wrong about them paying attention.
    90+% of drivers are operating on autopilot. They are not paying attention and are just letting the autopilot handle everything. This is one reason that they take driving for granted and feel just fine texting or talking on a cell phone while running other drivers off the road. Most crashes happen when 2 inattentive drivers hit each other. If you have an inattentive drive and someone who is actually driving the driver avoids the person who is oblivious to the situation.

    Who cares if I only bring my car down to second gear at stop signs? I am ready to stop. If there's another car who has right of way, I stop. If there's no other cars, I am slow enough to stop if I need to because someone else is blowing through, so no safety hazard is caused. If i have enough visibility to roll through at the speed that I am rolling through, and the situation isn't a dangerous one, then... how exactly does the rule make sense?

    I care and so does anyone who avoids you hitting them because your "only dropping to 2nd gear for stop lights" becomes part of your autopilot and often you may not actually notice another car has already stopped at the intersection and is now proceeding to use their right of way when you blow the red/stop sign.
    I have seen drivers (I hate to use this term for commuters who have somehow ended up behind the wheel and have no interest in teh art of driving) use this same argument and then drive and fail to notice other cars at intersections as they blow lights/signs. They still say that everything was clear and that there was no other traffic due to autopilot.

    The advantage of your post is that it clarifies what the person who got killed did wrong. They went through an intersection while assuming other traffic would behave in a given way without even observing the traffic to see if this was likely. I really don't care if you have a green if it looks like an SUV coming up to a red and who will T bone you, is not slowing, don't just say "I have the right of way!" and head to your death. You will be in the right and just as dead as if you were not in the right.

    If people cared about highway deaths we'd see a few things.
    1. The news would report how many people died in the roads of their state the previous day and across the US.
    2. Laws would begin to target bad drivers and not boogiemen like speeders and drunk drivers.

    #2 sounds unbelievable so I should explain. When you are just as impaired using a cell phone as you are at the legal BAC level for DWI and only one of these has heavy legal ramifications... yeah, a boogieman has been created. Also if you research the criteria for a drunk driving crash you may be amazed at how a crash with no alcohol can still be classed as a drunk driving crash.
    The police say that speed is the #1 cause of crashes. This is wrong. putting things where they do not belong is the #1 cause. If we wanted to reduce raod deaths the police would crack down on people rolling reds and stop signs, people commuting in the wrong lane, improper signal use, and other things which indicate bad drivers. Get the inattentive dummies off the road and watch the death rate plummet.

  • by Caduceus1 (178942) on Wednesday December 30, 2009 @02:10PM (#30597910) Homepage

    Let's ignore the positional arguments for now - yes, everyone SHOULD know that the light on top is the red one, etc. But it is obviously not the case. Some people are just not that smart.

    I have always understood that the lenses which used to give lights their color, in the green case, was not really a pure green but had a tint of blue. This allowed those with green colorblindness to still distinguish the light from the others. However, it is VERY noticeable that the green LED lights are NOT the same color as the old lenses, but appear to be more of a true green. Is there a reason why they weren't made the same blue/green? Or did someone just forget?

    It may be possible, if they can't produce a blended LED, to simply include some blue LEDs in the matrix as well, which should to most of us produce a blended color.

    I have seen some red LED lights include a white flashing ring or center dot - this really brings attention to the light. Totally non-standard that I have seen though.

    With the LED matrix lights, it is now quite simple to create shaped lights. A distinctive square or rectangular (would likely require redesigned light fixtures) design on the stop light would make it more distinguishable.

    I remember the horizontal fixtures in Quebec - but I remember that the stop lights appeared on BOTH ends of the fixture - that is there were TWO lights on the outside when STOP.

    What needs to happen now is standards for future replacements and new installations so that they can be ready in the future.

  • by negRo_slim (636783) <mils_oRgen@hotmail.com> on Wednesday December 30, 2009 @02:15PM (#30597970)
    They could just install roundabouts. No light emitting device to ice over and standard city equipment will keep it functioning in the snow. Not to mention the robustness of such a design when faced with things like hurricanes and tornadoes.
  • heating elements (Score:2, Insightful)

    by OnePumpChump (1560417) on Wednesday December 30, 2009 @02:31PM (#30598258)
    Why would energy use for melting the snow be an issue? The heating element doesn't need to be on all the time. It could be activated by a photocell (obviously there would have to be some sort of provision for night time in that), or remotely by radio control, or periodically when the temperature drops below freezing, or only during certain months. Over the life of the light (the thing wouldn't even come on at all 2/3 of the year in most places), the energy cost should be negligible. Incorporating it into the design of future lights might cost what...10, 20 bucks? That barely eats into the savings of going with LEDs at all.
  • Uuum, WTF? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Hurricane78 (562437) <deleted@@@slashdot...org> on Wednesday December 30, 2009 @03:34PM (#30599138)

    Isn’t that why the simple and effective solution called a “roof” was invented for?

    Just put a box around it, with a flat, transparent, 45 downwards facing surface in front of the light. There you go. Problem solved.
    You can even coat it with a water-repelling substance, to prevent fogging.
    Gravity will do the rest.

    Oh wait... they don’t believe in gravity, in the midwest, right? ^^

  • by CastrTroy (595695) on Wednesday December 30, 2009 @04:00PM (#30599476) Homepage
    Living with snow is easy to deal with. Just put some good snow tires on your car, and dress warm. I'd take a winter blizzard anyday over even having the possibility of hurricanes.
  • by paeanblack (191171) on Wednesday December 30, 2009 @04:25PM (#30599760)

    They could just install roundabouts.

    Or they could just ignore the bullshit attempt to weasel out of a criminal manslaughter charge.

    The guy was driving way too fast in traffic in extreme weather. He killed someone because he was in a hurry.

  • by ConceptJunkie (24823) on Wednesday December 30, 2009 @04:41PM (#30599920) Homepage Journal

    Well from what I've seen in the news, etc, if the hurricane levels your house and it gets covered with debris, then yes.

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