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Seattle Wants to Use Adaptive Traffic Lights to Reduce Congestion

Posted on May 20, 2016

Traffic lights in Seattle may soon react to traffic patterns and help clear congestion, thanks to a partnership with Siemens. Starting in July, Seattle city streets will run on a new type of traffic light control software, Concert. City officials hope these new adaptive traffic lights will help ease congestion during heavy traffic times.

Smart Traffic Lights Are the Future

Some, but not all, of Seattle's current traffic signals have car-sensing technology. Current efforts include a magnetic, car-detecting loop of metal embedded in the road. This technology uses sensors to detect when a car is waiting at an intersection and changes the signal when a vehicle is present. This technology is useful at intersections with less traffic that may not need full signal cycles.

The new Concert software will use cameras, sensors, and years of Washington State Department of Transportation traffic data. The existing traffic control center located in the Seattle Municipal Tower will manage the new software. Implementing the new tech will begin at Mercer Street and the South Lake Union tributaries later this summer.

While the traffic control center will still have to manage the traffic signals manually, the software will upgrade eventually to allow for adaptive signals. This type of signal control alters green light patterns when a surge of vehicles arrives. Using adaptive signals may reduce backups and cars blocking intersections.

Adaptive Traffic Lights May Reduce Accidents

Car accidents are especially likely to occur in heavy congestion as drivers often let their attention drift to smartphones or other distractions while they wait for traffic to move. Seattle's traffic engineers hope the new Concert system will help ease congestion during known gridlock times. Baseball nights in SoDo may no longer mean bumper-to-bumper traffic jam when the game lets out. The smart signals will learn to extend green lights leading away from the stadium when the ninth inning comes around.

Better-timed traffic signals may also reduce the occurrences of intersection blockage by cars stuck at red lights. This often occurs when drivers race to beat the light, but then get stuck in the intersection behind another car. The new adaptive lights would lengthen light times when traffic is heavier.

Legal Help for Traffic Accidents in Seattle

Adaptive traffic lights may help ease congestion, but they cannot prevent all traffic accidents. If you suffered an injury in a traffic accident, contact Max Meyers Law to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation regarding your right to recovery after a traffic accident: 425-242-5595.

Max Meyers
Max is a Kirkland personal injury attorney handling cases in Seattle, King County & surrounding in WA State.