Is a Stoplight with a Progress Bar a Good Idea?

This stoplight has won a design award for incorporating a progress bar that shows drivers exactly how long they can expect to wait at an ...
by | December 4, 2009

Stoplight

This stoplight has won a design award for incorporating a progress bar that shows drivers exactly how long they can expect to wait at an intersection. The idea is that, if drivers know they have a long wait, they might not be as frustrated by the wait itself. The designers also say it would allow drivers to turn off their engines for longer waits, rather than idling in place, wasting fuel and causing added pollution.

Is this something cities will want to put in place?

Over the past couple years D.C. has converted almost all of its downtown pedestrian signals to new versions that count down the time you have left to cross the street. As a pedestrian, I've found them to be quite useful for knowing whether you've got enough time to make it across the street before cross-traffic starts plowing you down.

But I'm not sure I see the same usefulness for automobile signals. It's not as if drivers have an option for whether they want to wait at the light depending on how long the wait's going to be. And I'm not sure I buy the idea that U.S. drivers will shut off their cars at every intersection they come to. (There's even debate over whether that's good for the environment or not.)

Beyond that, what's the benefit, exactly? Sure, some drivers would find it soothing to know they've got two minutes to zone out or fiddle with the radio or whatever. But wouldn't just as many drivers actually be more frustrated by knowing they're not going to be moving for 120 seconds?

Some commenters on Reddit have even suggested this countdown could be dangerous: People knowing the light is about to turn green could jump the gun and speed out into the intersection, putting them in danger of hitting another car that's trying to speed through a yellow light.

What's your take: Nifty and helpful innovation? Dangerous? Or a useless update?

[via Gizmodo ]

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. You can enter an anonymous Display Name or connect to a social profile.

More from View