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Author Topic: Flashing lights at stop lights to make them change?
Dark Reality
The Red and the Green Stamps


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I seem to remember hearing some time ago, that if you flashed your high beams at stop lights, they would assume you were an emergency vehicle, and change. Of course, this was to work at night or in the "off-peak" hours.

Our stoplights are VERY advanced here, and I've never gotten it to work. I say they're advanced becuase each one must have 3-4 motion sensors. If you stop too far forward, they "penalize" you, making you wait much longer, than if you were farther back (I've timed it). Some will sit on green until you're so far away, then turn yellow and then red. Why they don't just set them to flashing red (4 way stop) is beyond me... seems like they want people to race it. And on that note, I think our city encourages street racing... we have some lights that turn faster if there are 2 cars on a 2 lane rather than just 1... I've had it hold me until someone pulled up along side me...

Very weird.

But if the flashing lights thing isn't true, how can some vehicles get a priority? Surely they must have something like that for emergency vehicles. I've been at a light that normally changes 2-5 seconds after you get there, and wait, and wait... and then some car comes through, and it changes... weird stuff...

Maybe they're hooked to a computer running Windows...

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Mad Jay
Let There Be PCs on Earth


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I remember there was a long discussion about flashing lights at stop lights maybe a year ago. I could have chowed you but for some reason I cant get to the topic even though I can get the topics in the search page

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Nico Sasha
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NovaSS
I'll Be Home for After Christmas Sales


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Most emergency vehicles have an infrared transmitter that will trip the lights. Next time your at the stop light look for a small box hanging between the main lights, its maybe 8-12" tall and black.
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Aunt May
The Red and the Green Stamps


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Correct. I used to work as an engineer at a company that built the transmitters in Ontario Canada. The IR needs a secondary carrier freq. of 12-20HZ to trip the lights.

- Aunt May

quote:
Originally posted by NovaSS:
Most emergency vehicles have an infrared transmitter that will trip the lights. Next time your at the stop light look for a small box hanging between the main lights, its maybe 8-12" tall and black.


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Sailor Critter
The Red and the Green Stamps


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Around here, they don't bother tripping the lights, they just turn on the siren and their flashie lights, and go around (sometimes in the oncoming lane, if all traffic stops for them)

Of course, there are folks who drive ambulances here who merely turn on their equipment so they don't have to stop. Once on the other side, off goes the lights and siren. Makes me SO angry when I see it.

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BrainDamage
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Sailor, ambulances don't do that just so they can get through red lights. Many people for some reason don't know how to properly act when there's an emergency vehicle behind them. Sometimes when trying to pull over, they become more of an obstruction than get out of the way. Many times the ambulance will just leave the siren off and go with the flow of traffic, then kick the siren on at the lights to stop the flow of cross-traffic.
It depends alot on the driver, nature of the emergency, and the city they're driving in.

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Mad Jay
Let There Be PCs on Earth


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Ambulances on highways confuse me!!

I sometimes see flashing lights in my rear view mirror, maybe 1/2 a mile away, and I dont know what to do. No one else around me is pulling over, and I dont want to cause an accident by swerving through 2 lanes of traffic. I look again after a minute and the flashing lights are further away than before. Apparently, Ambulances dont travel more than the speed limit, whereas everyone else does. So, I would guess on a highway if everyone started pulling over for an ambulance, that might create a bigger congestion, which isnt good for other emergency vehicles that might be coming the same way. OTH, the rule book says that you are suppossed to stop on the shoulder when you see an emergency vehicle behind you.

I end up doing what everyone else does; ie; keep driving

Mad Jay

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Nico Sasha
In between my father's fields;And the citadels of the rule; Lies a no-man's land which I must cross; To find my stolen jewel.

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Sailor Critter
The Red and the Green Stamps


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[QUOTE]Originally posted by BrainDamage:
Sailor, ambulances don't do that just so they can get through red lights. [/snip]

I did not say all of them did this, only a few in the town I lived in. I know for a fact they were just doing it to get through the lights. How do I know? Because they were turning into a *park* so they could eat their lunch. They did this _every single day._

I know, I omitted this fact in the original post. But if I can't assume, neither can you. [Razz]


[snip] Many people for some reason don't know how to properly act when there's an emergency vehicle behind them. Sometimes when trying to pull over, they become more of an obstruction than get out of the way. [snip]

Well, duh? And sometimes there just any place to pull over and let the ambulance go by.


Many times the ambulance will just leave the siren off and go with the flow of traffic, then kick the siren on at the lights to stop the flow of cross-traffic.

Unless they are going to an accident or are carrying someone in the back, I do not see the reason why they can't just stop like everyone else. If this isn't the case, they need to leave lights and siren OFF, as it does cause problems with folks not knowing where to go. It's kinda like that big scary trooper waiting in the median...the traffic will slow down, almost to the point of causing accidents. That deterrant to crime, which is a good thing, has complications.

THAT was my beef, that *some* of them abuse the privledge. [fish]

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Dr. Van Thorp
Deck the Malls


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quote:
Originally posted by Dark Reality:
Our stoplights are VERY advanced here, and I've never gotten it to work. I say they're advanced becuase each one must have 3-4 motion sensors. If you stop too far forward, they "penalize" you, making you wait much longer, than if you were farther back (I've timed it)....

Isn't that great. Everyone gets to wait longer because one jerk decided to stop on the crosswalk.
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The Phantom
The Red and the Green Stamps


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I seem to recall reading on here that emergency vehicles have this capacity, or similar, at all is complete Horse Hockey and an UL. I wish I was able to go back to that thread to look.

If I am wrong about it, I am wrong.

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moonlight
Little Sales Drummer Boy


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quote:
Originally posted by The Phantom:
I seem to recall reading on here that emergency vehicles have this capacity, or similar, at all is complete Horse Hockey and an UL. I wish I was able to go back to that thread to look.

If I am wrong about it, I am wrong.

In Illinois at least, it's called an Opticom and it is very real. It's set off by a strobe light emitted from emergency vehicles. It works a lot better on fire engines and ambulances that have it mounted on the roof than on squad cars that have it in the grille. Flashing your lights doesn't work. Flashing a strobe light probably won't either, since they are supposedly set to a certain flash pattern, and that's what they respond to. I'll have to find a cite.

I read that first thread as well but we lost a lot when the board crashed. [Frown]

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G.U.T.S.
The Red and the Green Stamps


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Can't you guys be abit more techinical and say MIRT? Mobile InfraRed Transmitter.

Ironiclly enough, some people sell this kinda stuff on eBay and on the internet as a "Red Light Beater" of sorts for drivers who are extremely impatient. Even more ironic, Detroit actually is concerned about this sorta things (I recall seeing an article on Daily Rotten about half a year back on this sorta thing). Apparently, what was shown in Robocop 3 is not Science Fiction anymore. (When Bertha uses a "remote" to change all the lights)

quote:
Originally posted by Aunt May:
Correct. I used to work as an engineer at a company that built the transmitters in Ontario Canada. The IR needs a secondary carrier freq. of 12-20HZ to trip the lights.

- Aunt May

quote:
Originally posted by NovaSS:
Most emergency vehicles have an infrared transmitter that will trip the lights. Next time your at the stop light look for a small box hanging between the main lights, its maybe 8-12" tall and black.



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Atlanta Jake
Xboxing Day


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quote:
Originally posted by G.U.T.S.:
Can't you guys be abit more techinical and say MIRT? Mobile InfraRed Transmitter.


It is only called that if your City/County uses an infra red system. The city of Atlanta no longer uses a traffic preemption system, but when it did (Mid to late '70s) I'm told it used a radio transmitter much like a garage door opener (only operating whenever the siren was on, not a push button system). We had one at my old station that had a button on the wall next to the door opener that turned the lights at the nearest intersection red. It was a one-way street, so only one light was affected.

Anyway, now we do it the way Sailor Critter said. Lights and siren and defensive driving...

Atlanta Jake

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Dark Blue
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quote:
Anyway, now we do it the way Sailor Critter said. Lights and siren and defensive driving...
I always think it is easier for you all in the big red trucks though, a lot easier to see anyways. Too many blue hairs here seem not to see our pretty blue and red lights, and so we get held up a lot.

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Lurker
The Red and the Green Stamps


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quote:
Originally posted by Sailor Critter:
Around here, they don't bother tripping the lights, they just turn on the siren and their flashie lights, and go around (sometimes in the oncoming lane, if all traffic stops for them)

Of course, there are folks who drive ambulances here who merely turn on their equipment so they don't have to stop. Once on the other side, off goes the lights and siren. Makes me SO angry when I see it.

I was thinking the same thing... in my town we just hear the siren and pull over to get out of the way...
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Four Kitties
Layaway in a Manger


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An update on this topic:

Lawmakers seeks to curb traffic light devices

quote:
[In Massachusetts] No legal action can be taken against a driver changing traffic light cycles with a transmitter. ''There are no penalties for the use, because there is no law against it."
Four Kitties

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Joseph Z
Xboxing Day


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They should give the transmitters to V-Dot to fix traffic light problems with broken down cars at them that mess with the lights.

I remembered last year in Chevy Chase Maryland, we sat at the light for 30 minutes trying to pass through. The cause was that a car broke down at the light and was tripping it out.

The car broke down directly on the line and it was just one light we had to pass through that was causing the serious problem.

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Joseph Z

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G.
I'll Be Home for After Christmas Sales


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In Illinois, there is a problem with the system. On cop cars, the strobe goes on with the lights. If a cop pulls someone over near an intersection, and they leave the MARS lights on, the stoplight will never change.

They may have added a separate switch by now.

When I was in college, I used to borrow the roommate's scooter to go see the GF. There was a large intersection that I needed to cross. This was almost off-campus over by the stadium, so there wasn't much traffic there at night. Little scooter has little metal and would not trip the sensor. I would plant my feet, hit the gas to get the front end off the ground, then wave the headlight back and forth across the sensor. Green light!

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Class Bravo
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Moonlight, here in CA it's also called an Opticom. My father was a firefighter for thirty-some years, and I remember him explaining to me how it worked. I recall that it must flash 17-point-something times per second in the IR range, so when I see people flashing their headlights at a stoplight it just makes me laugh.
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Class Bravo
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quote:
Originally posted by Sailor Critter:
Of course, there are folks who drive ambulances here who merely turn on their equipment so they don't have to stop. Once on the other side, off goes the lights and siren. Makes me SO angry when I see it.

Are you sure these guys aren't responding half-code to a call?
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Rhiandmoi
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It worked at the intersection of Santa Rosa St and Mill St in San Luis Obispo 1998-2000(Driving on Mill crossing Santa Rosa). I think it tricked the light into thinking there were more cars waiting as opposed to there being an emergency vehichle though.
If I flashed my lights as I came up the hill the light would change when I came to the top and I could cross Santa Rosa. If I didn't flash my lights I had to wait until the timer switched the lights which at that time was set at something like 5 mins. I didn't do a scientific test or anything, and they changed the lights so I guess this is just anectdotal.

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Class Bravo
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Around here I've seen inductive loops for the lights embedded pretty far back from the actual intersection, especially when the speed limits on the streets are high.

There is one specific intersection I'm thinking of in which the speed limit for both perpendicular streets is 50 mph. I have seen a sensor embedded into the pavement about a half-mile back from the intersection, and when I'm coming home after working a night shift and there are few cars on the road, the light will always turn green before I get to it. Perhaps this could also be the case in your San Luis Obispo scenario as well?

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Rhiandmoi
Ding Dong! Merrily on High Definition TV


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No, the main street was a 40mph(at most, maybe at that point 35mph) and the cross street was a 25mph mixed residential, and there were no imbedded sensors. It is a very smallish town and the only reason that this intersection had a light was because Santa Rosa was part of Highway 1 and one of the main roads that cut through town.

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I think that hyperbole is the single greatest factor contributing to the decline of society. - My friend Pat.

What is .02 worth?

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