Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Safety countdown clocks at intersections.

  1. Jul 2, 2014 #1


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    This is a fascinating display of how humans react to increased information while driving. I've noticed that I also react to the knowledge of how long the light will stay on with counters but never really thought about how it could cause accidents.

  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 2, 2014 #2
    Following their line of thought... IMO, the design should be as follows: Put the countdown timer, but make the light for the vehicles go red like 10 seconds before letting the walkers pass. In other words, there will be 10 seconds where there should be absolutely no movement in the streets. Not from vehicles, neither from walkers so when walkers start walking, all vehicle movement should have long, long stopped.

    Come on. How hard was to think of that?

    Pft, that's stupid, harder and more costly to implement. My solution is better. Fire whoever came with that solution and hire me. Simple.

    EDIT: Do not use my solution in crowded cities. I recognize it would create terrible vehicle congestion.
  4. Jul 2, 2014 #3
    No doubt I speed up a little bit if it's going to get me through the light. Granted, I've never been close to being reckless.
  5. Jul 2, 2014 #4


    User Avatar

    Sounds like a great way to annoy and frustrate drivers, and I very much doubt that annoying drivers is a good way to encourage them to make good decisions.
  6. Jul 2, 2014 #5
    Anyone who is tailgating someone coming up on an intersection needs to get their license revoked if there's an accident. That is the dumbest thing I can think of right now. I've had people tailgating me coming up to an intersection, and if I have to stop suddenly because I realize I'm not going to make the light, they'll hit me. They're basically bullying people so they don't stop. There's no excuse for that.
    Not only is tailgating dangerous, but it's just downright rude. There's just so many things people do on the road that make it completely irritating to drive. Driving could be relaxing and even enjoyable. But it never is because people literally turn it into a game of death. The government needs to stop treating driving like it's a right. Even if they say they don't, they do. Because not enough people are banned from driving. There needs to be lifelong bans issued out, and a lot more often. You do something ridiculous enough; you get your license banned. You're caught driving with a banned license; jail. You do it again; prison.
  7. Jul 2, 2014 #6
    Haha! You're right. You're right. (I laugh because I'm imagining the drivers sitting there all angry and grumpy).

    Maybe it's no fine solution at all and original idea is better. I take it back.
  8. Jul 2, 2014 #7


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    You are assuming they have a license to revoke.

    The UK has a different system that doesn't use a timer and is mostly "hidden" from drivers unless they have already stopped. Pedestrians get an audible beeping signal when the lights change to stop the traffic. When the beeps stop, the lights stay on red for long enough (depending on the width of the road) for people to finish crossing the road if they have already started.

    Of course the drivers at the front of the queue can hear the beeps stop, and get ready for the lights to change. With some crossings (indicated by flashing lights) it's legal to start driving "early" if there are no people still crossing the road.

    There are a few idiot pedestrians who play chicken after the beeps stop, but most people are smart enough to figure out that in a pedestrian vs car fight, the car usually wins.
  9. Jul 2, 2014 #8


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    A "little old lady" in Denver used it for the opposite reason and my daughter rear ended her. Go figure.
  10. Jul 3, 2014 #9


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    I've even heard some want clocks at all intersections with red light cameras.
    Just imagine what will happen when the "little old ladies" might also get a ticket if they don't stop 5 seconds before the light turns red.
  11. Jul 3, 2014 #10


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

  12. Jul 3, 2014 #11
    That is already happening with red light cameras without the clocks. It certainly did in Tucson anyway. We have more rear end collisions than we did before the cameras were installed.

    One person's stop is another person's go and when a $400 fine is involved people react quite differently. Then at intersections with green arrows for left turns yet another yellow light is involved.

    Most traffic camera citations are going to the people making the left turn with green arrow. The yellow is only three seconds long and vehicles making a turn are moving much slower than thru traffic.

    Last edited: Jul 3, 2014
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook