Every day, driving Americans approach red traffic lights as they prepare to make a right turn. Typically, making a right turn at the red light is a simple process of stopping, checking for traffic, and continuing through the intersection with virtually no wait at all. Before “Right Turn on Red” was common, however, the time between stopping at the intersection and the light turning green could feel like months, with the car sitting, idling, emitting fumes, and adding to a carbon footprint that many would rather reduce.
It is for this reason the federal government requires states implement the “Right Turn on Red” law. This requirement is tied to the funds states receive from the federal government for energy efficiency programs. According to Energy.gov, this law began in the 1970s to help drivers conserve fuel and money.
It is said that in the midst of the 1970’s oil crisis, a U.S. senator spent much time waiting to turn red at a red light, even though no other drivers were present at the time. He asked the Federal Highway Administration to conduct a study on the benefits of being able to make a right turn at a red light. After reviewing the research, the Energy Department felt that it was worth the improvement to make right turn on red a nationwide plan for improving energy efficiency.
Others have put this law to the test for their own purposes. The Discovery Channel’s MythBusters series demonstrated the theory of increased energy efficiency by allowing right turns at red lights. In addition, UPS requires its drivers to map out their routes in a manner that has them making right turns whenever possible. UPS has stated that in addition to reducing emissions, use of fuel, and idling time of its trucks, it is also safer because the trucks do not need to cross traffic as frequently.
Improving Traffic Throughput
The right turn on red law is just one example of ways to improve traffic throughput and thus lower emissions. With current adaptive traffic control technology, “intelligent” or “smart” signals can reduce idling time at these intersections by sensing traffic patterns and responding accordingly. Adaptive traffic control also provides increased safety, improved public transportation, and other advantages.
Are There Grants for This?
Companies with intelligent traffic systems (ITS) solutions offer a wide variety of hardware and software to keep our environment healthy, our cities clean, and our drivers less irritated. Of course, cost is always an issue, but there are grants available that can reduce costs to municipalities who wish to upgrade their traffic signal systems.
Funding for traffic control can come from many sources, most of which are federal or state government departments that have an interest in some aspect of traffic control. These departments include departments of transportation, commerce, economic development, education, and emergency management.
For example, the U.S. Department of Transportation funds intelligent traffic systems through its Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21) program. During FY 2014, MAP-21 will spend $10 billion on projects that include planning programs, rural transportation assistance, capital investment grants, state of good repair grants, and more. Distributors who work for the traffic companies should be able to offer more specific direction on where and how to find these
types of grants.
If you are interested in replacing or updating your traffic signals but need assistance on how to find grants for this type of project, please do not hesitate to contact us. One of our grant helpers would be happy to assist you. In the meantime, please drive safely.
Image credit: William F. Yurasko, wfyurasko