“Smart” Traffic Lights and Construction Zones

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The state of Michigan is testing several connected-car technologies designed to make driving safer, notes Kirk Steudle, director of the Dept. of Transportation.

In work zones, for example, MDOT and 3M Co. are testing barcodes rather than construction signs to instantly convey details about a construction zone so the driver knows just what to expect. A second test puts mini-transmitters in workers’ vests so drivers know which parts of a construction zone are truly active and exactly where workers are located.

In a separate test with General Motors Co., MDOT is helping to evaluate smart traffic lights that “talk” to an in-car system about when they’re about to change. The technology calculates vehicle speed and tells drivers whether they will make the next light or should prepare to stop.