Stuck at a Red Light? Here’s What You Can Do To Get It To Turn Green

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There’s nothing worse than a traffic light that’s stuck on red.

We’ve all been there, patiently waiting for a red light that simply won’t change back to green.

So what’s the cause?

You could be sitting at a red light that doesn’t know you’re staring right back at it from the inside of your car.

There are several ways traffic lights operate, from timers that vary according to the time of day or during certain events, to detection devices including cameras, underground sensors, induction loops, etc.

And when it comes down to an “induction loop”, these are sensors with “a coil of wire that is placed underneath the pavement, usually in the shape of a rectangle,” explains the public works department for Neenah, Wisconsin.

“When a large metal object is positioned over the loop (for example, a car), it affects the loop’s magnetic field.” 

Neenah Public Works

Now once the traffic signal detects your vehicle, the light will change.

Although what may sound like the perfect solution, sometimes these sensors can be stubborn, considering vehicles must always pass over or stop within its detection area.

To make sure you’re within the detection area, keep in mind that your car must be pulled up to the solid white stop line at the intersection and if you’re not driving a car, here’s what you can do instead.

For motorcycles, bicycles, mopeds, etc, Neenah Public Works recommends to check and make sure that your tires are on the tar lines. 

Magnetic detectors and magnetometers are two other sensors that could also operate a traffic light.

How do they work?

Magnetic detectors and magnetometers control traffic lights by detecting differences in the Earth’s magnetic field which are caused by a vehicle passing over or stopping on it according to the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration.

And similarly like induction loops, positioning your vehicle over the detectors should properly activate the light.

However, sensors that are stationed above the roadway like infrared sensors work differently, and are activated once a car breaks a beam of light or detects heat that’s radiating from a vehicle’s engine.

You can also count on traffic lights to be operated by cameras that can be connected to a network that is specifically designed to detect traffic which in return, can adjust the signals as needed.

Although in many cases, traffic lights can programmed to rely on all of the methods mentioned above.

Most importantly, remember that if you are stuck at a red light that’s not changing and know that you’ve already pulled forward onto the sensor, don’t honk your horn, but do try flashing your high-beams.

It’s critical to also be aware that you shouldn’t run a red light even if the traffic light is taking a long time to change and that it’s best to find another solution on getting out of the intersection. 

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