City Tests Traffic Light That Only Turns Green for Drivers Who Obey the Speed Limit

Screenshot:  Signalisation Kalitec inc.
Screenshot: Signalisation Kalitec inc.

A suburb of Montreal, Canada, is hosting an experimental traffic light that only turns green for the good drivers who keep their speed to the limit.

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Brossard, Quebec, is the first place in Canada to test-run the traffic light. The new light is a feu de ralentissement éducatif (educational traffic-calming light) or FRED. It’s designed to stay red until it senses a coming car, only changing green if the car is going the speed limit. FRED forces fast drivers to stop and gives them a chance to really reconsider their life choices.


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Engineers placed FRED near a school zone in Brossard that was plagued with throttle-happy Quebec drivers. From StreetsblogMASS:

“Across Canada, near school zones, people are asking for concrete measures to control speeding. This (technology) has not been accepted yet by the government, and we’re going to do it as a test,” Brossard’s mayor, Doreen Assaad, told StreetsblogMASS.

Mayor Assaad added that though it’s the first time it’s being tried in Canada, similar signals have been in widespread use across Europe for years.

The FRED light in Brossard is being tried out for a 90-day trial period on Rue Stravinski, a two-lane street that runs through a suburban residential area.

Before the light was installed, Mayor Assaad said that Rue Stravinski had average vehicle speeds of 40 km/h (25 mph). But in the past week, average speeds have dropped to 29 km/h (18 mph).

You can see FRED in action in with what is by far the jauntiest free music ever to grace a 1:30 of a traffic light in action outside of a Quebec public school. The test run is only for the next 90 days, but such lights have worked well in Europe for over a decade, CTV News reports.

Kalitec - EARL / FRED

Of course, a random streetlight in the middle of a two-way road with no cross traffic isn’t exactly a barrier to reckless driving. If you’re speeding in a school zone, you might be the kind of driver to ignore a red light but then you’ll be hit with a camera-generated fine. The light does more than just slow down thoughtless speeders. It relays important statical information back to the city about traffic and driver behavior on the road.

It’s an interesting bit of infrastructure—one with a great deal of possibility especially as we rethink traffic and living in cities. I certainly dig this better than adding a fourth color to our traffic lights for autonomous vehicles. Speed is the determining factor in one fourth of traffic deaths. Anything that slows down speed demons on quiet neighborhood streets is a good thing.

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