I was driving home at just about 5:00 p.m. on Monday. Daylight Savings Time had just ended. The sun was very low on the horizon. It had fallen behind the treeline and the sky was partly cloudy. In general, it was still bright and very obviously daylight out. Everyone had their headlights on, though. That part doesn’t bother me. It’s better to err on the side of caution, after all. But if it were the same time of day with rain pouring down from the sky, at least one in six of those cars would not have their headlights on. Why is it they remember their headlights in broad daylight, but not in the rain? (And, seriously, I’ve counted cars on the highway in the rain before. It averages one in six who don’t put their headlights on. Sickening, isn’t it? That’s been the law since the dawn of time. . . )
Why don’t we have “smart” traffic lights yet? For example: It’s 1 a.m. in your small town with one traffic light. As you approach it, the green light clicks to amber and then red. You’re stopped at a light that won’t turn green for another minute. But there’s nobody else on the road for miles. Yet, you’re stuck. You can’t run the red light, because there’s a cop in the parking lot on the other side who wants to meet his monthly quota with your help. Why can’t the traffic light see that there’s nobody else coming for miles around and flip your light green?
Another example: It’s 5 p.m. and the big corporate campuses just let out. Traffic streams onto the street towards a large four way intersection. It’s so far backed up that people can’t get into the left lane to make the delayed green left hand turn. If nobody can get to the lane, why is that lane’s green light still on? Why not turn the light green in the opposite direction to let people start going early?
I don’t know the technical solution for all this, though I’m sure it would be expensive and require massive amounts of testing for safety’s sake, but c’mon. We’re smarter than this, aren’t we?