Traffic lights could change around the world thanks to one person

A Swedish engineer has proposed a historic change to traffic lights.

He was so upset about a £200 ($260) fine his wife received a few years ago in Oregon, USA, after being snapped by an automated traffic light cam that supposedly captured her running a red light, he vowed to do something about it.

Mats Järlström made it his quest to fix the timing sequence formula that's governed traffic light signals around the world since 1960.

He decided to challenge his wife's traffic fine, arguing that the timing sequence didn't allow her sufficient time to get through the yellow light (she was recorded as running the red light 0.12 seconds after it had turned red).

After initial losing the challenge on a technicality in 2014, a federal judge in January this year ruled Oregon's rules prohibiting people from representing themselves as engineers without a professional license from the state are unconstitutional allowing him to proceed with his mission.

In an email to The Register, he wrote: "The yellow traffic signal was first conceived in 1920 and in 1960, (when) scientists ... presented the foundational science still in use today. It is a historic moment to now update the science by extending the 1960 solution to also be applicable to turning manoeuvres."

Järlström has proposed to the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) that amber light timing should be extended from 3.2 seconds to 4.5 seconds.

ITE is the advisory group whose members represent 90 countries (including the UK) and which would adopt any new guidelines for traffic signal timing.

Any changes made would be submitted to the institute's board of directors for final approval next year.

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