Traffic Signal Prioritization – Ever Been At a Traffic Light and All of the Lights Turn Red?

We have all been at at a traffic light, waiting for the red light to turn green, when suddenly the signal timing goes out of sync, all of the lights turn red and an emergency vehicle then zips through the intersection without pause.  Did the emergency vehicle magically change the light?  Did you you imagine it?  No.  This technology is an effort to minimize accidents and transit time for emergency vehicles and it is coming to a city near you.

Red Traffic Lights
Photo Courtesy of Garrett – County Lemonade, Creative Commons

Traffic Signal Prioritization

Traffic Signal Prioritization or Traffic Signal Preemption is not new technology.  In the late 1960s, cities retrofitted their traffic signals to enhance the safety of their emergency vehicles.  According to  2003 U.S. Department of Transportation report, 25% of all emergency vehicle accidents occur within an intersection.  This is due to obstructions such as trees and buildings in the line-of-site of passenger vehicles, causing them to not see the emergency vehicle in transit.  The technology has gotten better over the past 50 years integrating GPS and other cutting edge methods, all with the purpose of decreasing accidents, improving reaction time and saving lives.

How It Works

traffic signal prioritization
Photo Courtesy of Ben Ostrowsky, Creative Commons

Once a vehicle approaches the intersection, it relies upon sound, optical, microwave activation or a combination of the three in order to preempt the traffic signal’s sequence.  After the emergency vehicle leaves the intersection and has communicated its safe passage, the normal operating sequence picks back up and the flow of traffic resumes.  If you look around an intersection, there is a silver control panel box used to operate the entire intersection.  That is the brain behind the traffic signal.

Electro Soft’s Work With Traffic Signal Prioritization

Photo Courtesy of Marco Garro
Photo Courtesy of Marco Garro, Creative Commons

Our customer General Highway Products, Incorporated (another family-owned business) is the Philadelphia-area expert in Traffic Signal Prioritization.  Last year, we completed the panel assembly of multiple 8-Phase 12 position and 4-Phase 8 position panels used in General Highway’s control boxes.  These control boxes were a special Homeland Security order for the City of Philadelphia, installed specifically for Pope Francis’ visit.  We were very proud to be a trusted member of the team, ensuring the Pope’s safety in our area.

This is just one of many incredible projects that we have been involved with over our 30 year history.  We are a highly hands-on manufacturing partner dedicated to quality products and long-term relationships.  Let us know how we can help you meet your manufacturing requirements.

Oh, and the next time you are at an intersection in the Philadelphia area, look for the silver enclosure box.  There is likely an Electro Soft panel inside.