Not content to wait for next-generation intelligent transportation systems technologies, Alaska’s transportation department has begun equipping traffic lights with video cameras in an effort to improve the flow of traffic on the state’s highways.
“The Alaska Department of Transportation recently installed new video detection cameras on top of traffic signals in the Mendenhall Valley area,” reports Klas Stolpe at JuneauEmpire.com. “However, these cameras aren’t there to catch drivers running red lights. Instead, they are being used to give motorists the ‘green’ in a more efficient way.”
“The overhead cameras people will see at a traffic signal are solely for detecting the presence of vehicles to provide the best distribution of green time based on traffic demand,” explained traffic Alaska DOT engineering manager Carolyn Morehouse, as reported by Stolpe.
According to the article, the system does not alter traffic signal timing patterns, record video, or provide red-light running or speeding detection. Rather, “when a vehicle pulls up to an intersection that is equipped with video detection and the signal is red, the camera detects the presence and puts in a call for a green light,” explains Stolpe.
The future of smart intersections and traffic management in the U.S. currently is taking shape under the Department of Transportation’s Connected Vehicle Research initiative, which is a major component of the agency’s current five-year ITS strategic research plan. The initiative aims to enhance safety, mobility, and environmental factors via wireless connectivity among ground vehicles, infrastructure, and passengers’ devices.