Northern Virginia And D.C. Traffic Signals Will Help New Vehicles Catch More Green Lights

Northern Virginia And D.C. Traffic Signals Will Help New Vehicles Catch More Green Lights

An Audi dashboard displays the traffic light information at a D.C. intersection. Ever sit behind a driver that’s oblivious that a light has changed from red to green?

New technology aims to help reduce those instances. More than 2,000 traffic lights in Northern Virginia and D.C. are now able to “talk” to the latest models of Audi vehicles.

The signals will broadcast to drivers how much time remains until the light turns green. Another feature will recommend a speed to minimize stops at red lights. The measures are part of a series of incremental changes on the way to fully autonomous vehicles. Car manufacturers have rolled out features like lane control and adaptive cruise control in recent years.

Transportation officials touted the new technology at a Northern Virginia Transportation Authority forum on connected, autonomous, shared and electric vehicles on Wednesday.

Cathy McGee, director of research and innovation for the Virginia Department of Transportation, said the connected “vehicle to infrastructure” technology will eventually help make roadways more efficient.

Driver distraction is increasing what’s known as “startup lost time.” McGee describes it as the time between drivers realizing the light has turned green and when they start moving.

“As that time increases, the efficiency of our signals goes way down because we’re losing that time nobody’s moving,” McGee said.

Audi is the first manufacturer to roll out the “green light optimization speed advisory” and “traffic light information” technology. But as more vehicles get the technology in coming years, it could help the broader driving landscape, McGree said. About 600 traffic lights in D.C. and 1,450 in Northern Virginia make up nearly half of the 4,700 signals across the nation that can broadcast their timing. The tech is in 17 other cities including Denver, Orlando, Dallas, Houston, San Francisco and Phoenix.It will soon be available throughout Virginia, McGee said.VDOT […]

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