• Dec 16, 2009
Traffic lights using state-of-the-art LED illumination use 90 percent less electricity, offer a much longer service life and are more durable than their incandescent counterparts. Taking advantage of the countless benefits, cities around the country have been replacing traditional filament-based traffic signal bulbs with LEDs for years. Unfortunately, the low-watt LED units burn much cooler than its white-hot counterpart making it unable to melt snow off weather exposed traffic fixtures.
"I've never had to put up with this in the past," said Duane Kassens, a driver from Indiana who was involved in an accident attributed to a snow-clogged traffic light. "The police officer told me the new lights weren't melting the snow. How is that safe?" It obviously isn't.

Municipalities around the country are taking different steps to keep their signals shining brightly in the face of Mother Nature. Crews in St. Paul, Minnesota, use compressed air to keep their lights clean. In Green Bay, Wisconsin, city workers brush the snow off by hand in a labor-intensive process. Until a fix arrives, it is best to take the advice of Dave Hansen, a traffic engineer with the Green Bay Department of Public Works. Treat a blocked signal as if the power is out. "If there's any question, you err on the side of caution," says Hansen.

[Source: AOL Autos | Image: Oswego Police]


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 50 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      Around here I've never seen one completely covered... sometimes the bottom third, but never more than that.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Just like someone else stated and I'll repeat ... you can treat an obscured light like a power outage but there may be three other directions that are operating properly. You can't treat that like a four-way stop. A thermostat operated heat coil should be included. They won't need to be in use all that often so there will still be an energy savings.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I'm from Green Bay, and I've never seen anyone cleaning these lights off. They just seem to be cleaned off. I never thought about that before.
        • 5 Years Ago
        "I've never had to put up with this in the past," said Duane Kassens, a driver from Indiana who was involved in an accident contributed to a snow-clogged traffic light. "The police officer told me the new lights weren't melting the snow. How is that safe?" It obviously isn't.

        Umm... she didnt know the new lights were melting snow, untill after she drove through and intersection, and got into a accident?

        I dono, but i personally probubly could have figured that out, after all, if you pull up to a traffic light, and u CANT SEE THE SIGNAL.... then maybe you should be more careful crossing the intersection in the first place?

        • 5 Years Ago
        @ some1

        Agreed. But you're assuming that this driver had the ability to process information and react to this process in an intelligent way, all while driving. That's a lot of work, you know?

        / end sarcasm
        • 4 Years Ago
        May be if you approach an intersection and the light are out you should stop?????????????
      • 5 Years Ago
      Given that places where LED lights are in place are replacing the old stoplight housing entirely, it seems they could leave the old light fixture with incandescent bulbs in place and wire them so they could switch over in case of snow.

      Alternatively, they could drive trucks around with those microwave/heat guns and blast the stoplights to melt the snow.
      • 5 Years Ago
      "the mercury inside of CFL bulbs, all this green tech crap just takes people one step closer to their grave"

      Never mind the massive amount of Mercury released by Coal Fired Power Plants. I guess it's trendy to trash any technology related to reducing energy use, since Glenn Beck said so eh? Do you have a mind of your own?
      • 5 Years Ago
      Snow covering the lights is not the reason for poor driving, If I see the lights all covered up guess what I slow down or stop to make sure theres no cars coming and not be an idiot and drive through it.
      • 5 Years Ago
      This isn't new, this was seen with LED streetlamps already.

      Wind cleans the lamps. Or you can put heaters in only activated when it's cold if necessary.

      Also some birds moved into local stoplights as nests because the heat was gone. They fixed this by replacing the full circle hoods with half circles so the birds had no place to build the next.
      • 5 Years Ago
      There is a rail-road crossing near by that has the lens fill in the visor's shape.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Perhaps a spray of deicer.
      • 5 Years Ago
      ummm why don't they just leave the Green bulb as incandescent? The power savings would still be 66%, and the Green light is on the bottom of traffic lights: the warm bulb would melt at least the green light snow, and possible warm up the housing enough to keep somewhat clear the others...

      And, visibility of one out of three instructions ain't bad.
        • 5 Years Ago
        "Have you ever seen a stoplight out of power? People pull up to it and largely wait their turn to go. However, there is always some idiot who pulls out ahead of turn...."

        I think the problem is that this is much worse than a stoplight out of power.

        Because on one side, the greenlight is visible and there is no way for the driver with the green to know that the cars from the other direction can't see that they have a red light.

        If the light were out of power, All four sides of the intersection would know that they need to proceed with caution.
        • 5 Years Ago
        If they're going to have any bulb burn through, let it be the RED one, so that morons have no excuse not to STOP.
        • 5 Years Ago
        @Cameron:

        Great idea, however what are they going to do when incandescent bulbs become outlawed to sell in 2012?

        I'm all for people coming up with smart energy reducing solutions such as this, but you have to admit that at least a percentage of the motivation to replacing these with LEDs is due to climate change...

        And I bring this up as I feel many of the other climate change 'solutions' being proposed have not been thought through thoroughly and we may start to see other reprocussions pop up as a result--just like in this illustrated case.
        C
        • 5 Years Ago
        Your idea is pretty sound, however, people on average are far less intelligent than you think. The people posting on this blog and writing coherent posts likely aren't the people you are stuck in traffic with, day in day out.

        Have you ever seen a stoplight out of power? People pull up to it and largely wait their turn to go. However, there is always some idiot who pulls out ahead of turn, resulting in near collisions from the people properly following order. This person lacks something the gene pool should have gotten rid of, but somehow didn't.

        This moronic person - probably barely able to control their bowels without extreme concentration - is the exact type of idiot who cannot be trusted to do anything correctly. Have you ever wondered why some obviously dangerous objects have safety stickers warning against obviously dangerous methods to use said object with? This person, this ILK, is what warrants millions of dollars in lawsuits a year, untold numbers of deaths and population swells in uneducated and rural areas.

        And you know what's really scary? These people make your food, run your electrical plants, decide fates of millions through political movement and measure, run otherwise decent companies into the ground, result in firings then hirings, increase taxes, process your taxes, send you your taxes back, support wars not worth fighting, fight the wars and support extension of war efforts, watch your children at daycare... they are everyone and everywhere, and there is absolutely nothing you can do about it.

        So, to sum up my post, no, your idea would not work.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I'd consider this a paradox if I believed in man-made global warming.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I live in SE Louisiana and we don't have that problem with snow down here. They should contact southern cities and see if they would like to buy or swap them for those new fangled lights! :-)
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