Math geeks seem to think that complex algorithms can fix just about everything, and when it comes to red light runners, the geeks might be right. The Los Angeles Times reports that MIT researchers have developed an algorithm that can determine whether a driver will run a red light within milliseconds, which could one day save the lives of others.

The research is being published in the journal IEEE Transactions on Intelligent Transportation Systems. The team measured the success of their algorithm with 15,000 vehicles at an intersection in Christianburg, VA, and the group found that the algorithm was correct 85 percent of the time, which is reportedly the most accurate that has been measured.

While this information doesn't do much now for the safety of others, the smart cars of tomorrow could do a lot with that info. Since the information can be calculated in milliseconds, if the information can be transmitted to other vehicles, those vehicles can take decisive measures on the behalf of the driver. MIT Professor Jonathan How explains that, even though a driver sees a green light, a heads-up display could warn the driver of an impending red light runner.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 56 Comments
      rlog100
      • 3 Years Ago
      Here's a novel idea on reducing red light runners. Time the lights so that people aren't forced to stop at everyone. They are there to help traffic flow, not slow it to a crawl so some traffice nazi can swell their empire with even more obstructions.
        Fonin
        • 3 Years Ago
        @rlog100
        yes, i waste more time and gas waiting for the red light i just got my green light to travel too than prob all my lead-footing to make up for it! seriously, i drive at or under the limit and the light goes red and i stop and wait like a good driver. when my light goes green i accelerate at a moderate pace only to see the next light turn red in front of me, repeat for several lights. in SF drive 10 under or 10 over if you want to make lights, nm the horrendous MPGs you'll get from an avg speed of 15mph.
      ohger1s
      • 3 Years Ago
      Here's my solution: Have a steel post pop up in the middle of an intersection randomly after the red light happens......
      Dasupersprint
      • 3 Years Ago
      So, blocking other cars to let the red light runner go? Wow, pedal to the floor, nobody's going to hit me!
      Fonin
      • 3 Years Ago
      85% of the time, it works everytime...
      Ben
      • 3 Years Ago
      It will never be anything other than a tool to expand ticket revenue for the city or state goverments. Revenue would plunge to unacceptable lows if this technology was used to benefit the driver and not the city or state goverments. Therefore the formula will be used to catch perpertrators rather than educate all drivers and make the roads safer for all.
      kev
      • 3 Years Ago
      every traffic light in america should have the number count down system in the middle of the lights.. 10,9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1, Yellow.. People in advance would see its time to slow down or stop.. Will it end all red light runners? No!.. But it would be much safer.. It could help the larger trucks to gauge when to start hitting the breaks and slow down.. I agree all lights should be timed against the next light.. Problem i think is power failure causes the lights to go out of timing
        DrEvil
        • 3 Years Ago
        @kev
        Kev: That countdown will prompt 8 of 10 of the clowns that we share the road with to step on the gas.
        Agilis
        • 3 Years Ago
        @kev
        Perhaps instead of a numbering system, they could use an animation such as a solid circle split up into pieces and the pieces slowly disappear every second. Now, both ideas being great, it would never happen because of greedy governments that actually rely on the second guessing of the yellow light change to result in fines.
        • 3 Years Ago
        @kev
        [blocked]
      Bob Pk@aol.com
      • 3 Years Ago
      thats so they can get more money out of the people
      tflem69740
      • 3 Years Ago
      How about some algorithms and sensors to make lights smarter so that we don't waste tons of time and fuel, and create tons of pollution, waiting for an unintelligent, unaware light to cycle? I don't care how smart the cars are if the traffic management system, down to a single dumb traffic light, is clueless. I'm amazed that no one thinks about/talks about/let alone acts on things like this. With a stroke of the pen Obama could mandate every traffic light be a) made intelligent and aware, b) be networked where appropriate. The economic effect would be huge.
        WillieD
        • 3 Years Ago
        @tflem69740
        Things like that don't just happen magically, especially with Obama in control.
      Al
      • 3 Years Ago
      Its simple folks: green--GO. yellow--Prepare to STOP. red--STOP.
      shumpa
      • 3 Years Ago
      Find something more constructive to do.
      adamsdross
      • 3 Years Ago
      Someone should invent a system that warns if a young man driving a pickup truck is coming. The warning would get louder if the driver has a male passenger and even louder if more than one passenger. Watch out for Jeep SUV drivers.
      That Kid
      • 3 Years Ago
      How much further do you think we would have gotten if the money and accompanying research had instead been invested on finding ways to make public transportation better service the needs of a larger swath of the population? Or eliminating sprawl and developing more compact, less energy intensive communities that don't have bedroom communities miles away from the nearest commercial center? I consider myself fond of cars but the logical contortions we go through to hide the fact that driving is too inefficient and plagued by unpredictable variables to ever be the most practical mode of transport for most people are baffling. Maybe cars make the most sense where the population is really sparse but once you get out of those rural areas they 're mind-bogglingly inefficient for most purposes other than maybe a weekend outing.
        Jason Allen
        • 3 Years Ago
        @That Kid
        That's just way too simplified, IMO. What about disabled and elderly people? Transporting young kids and animals by mass transit? I'm all for mass transit taking it's rightful place as the mass solution to transit issues but technology that can make driving on regular roads safer seems to me to be worthwhile. I hate red light runners. And we need slightly longer yellows.
          That Kid
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Jason Allen
          I appreciate that making the changeover isn't nearly as simple as talking about it- but I personally think the elderly and disabled would get around more easily and safely in say low floor trams than they would by driving themselves. For kids and animals I'd agree your point does apply, but I think (aside from the fact that most of today's cars are least efficient in city driving) that short local trips where you've got your whole family and a significant amount of stuff are where cars make the most sense. Their inefficiencies only get compounded on longer commutes or when you're only driving yourself around. This is all just my opinion. I have to agree when it comes to red light runners and yellow lights though. Still, I can't fathom all the money researchers and engineers are spending on trying to improve the practicality and safety of cars and trucks when a more logical alternative *for most purposes* exists already. Perhaps tech like the self-driving car is a far better example of what I mean?
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