Posted on Sep 22, 2016

Here is some good news for Atlanta commuters who are tired of sitting in rush-hour traffic. Soon, you and your fellow drivers will all be wasting less time idling at red lights thanks to new “smart” traffic signals designed to improve traffic flow.

The Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) is currently in the process of installing 9,500 of these smart traffic signals at busy intersections across the state. The budget for Georgia’s smart traffic signal project is a massive $18 million dollars. 

By the end of July 2016, GDOT had already installed 1,000 out of the total 9,500 planned smart signals. In Atlanta, one of the 200 smart signals currently installed in the city can be found at the intersection of Piedmont Avenue and Peachtree Road. The installation process is currently in full swing and GDOT anticipates that they will have installed all smart signals by fall 2017. 

The purpose of these smart signals is to improve traffic congestion and reduce vehicle emissions from idling cars. According to GDOT traffic engineers, the smart signals have already begun improving traffic. For example, one intersection outside of metro Atlanta has seen a 15 percent improvement in traffic flow after the installation of a smart traffic light.

How do Atlanta’s new smart traffic signals work?

Georgia’s new smart traffic signals use road sensors and computers to collect up-to-the-second data. GDOT traffic engineers receive this data at the Traffic Management Center and can make real-time adjustments to the length of the lights to avoid backups and move traffic when necessary. 

For example, at the end of the work day when an office building full of employees leaves the parking lot in their cars at the same time, the traffic engineers can adjust the lights so that they increase the flow of traffic for that area of road. This prevents the small rush of traffic from causing congestion for the other drivers on the road.

Will the smart signals benefit drivers?

The GDOT foresees many benefits for Georgia drivers thanks to the new smart signals. First of all, the most obvious benefit will be quicker, easier commutes for drivers who have to travel into densely populated areas. In Atlanta, drivers can expect to spend less time waiting at red lights and more time at home with their families. Ostensibly, this may prevent road rage as well, something 80 percent of drivers admitted to in a recent survey.

Another benefit of the new smart traffic signals could potentially include fewer traffic accidents. Theoretically, as the traffic flow is improved by this new technology, cars will not have to start and stop that often. Drivers will also be less likely to run red lights since they know that the lights will adapt to accommodate heavier traffic flow from certain directions. These changes could easily translate to fewer accidents within and around busy intersections in Georgia.

The third benefit to Georgia’s smart signs is a quicker response time during emergencies like power outages and accidents. Since smart signal engineers are remotely monitoring the intersections to change the lights if needed, they will quickly notice if anything goes awry at an intersection.  

For example, if two cars collide, the engineers will see this accident in real time and can alert the local authorities for a faster-than-normal and potentially life-saving response time. Being able to see accidents as they happen and know when the traffic lights fail could ultimately be the difference between life and death for many drivers in the state. 

Meanwhile, if you are in an accident that another driver caused, call Jason Schultz at 404-474-0804 for help with your case.