Getting to the bottom of traffic light timing

News

If you feel some traffic lights take a little too long to turn green, you’re not along. 8 News Now wanted to find out what’s involved in timing the lights.

Valley drivers aren’t shy talking about what lights they feel could use an adjustment.

“Is the light stuck, or what?” Driver Wayne Matthews wonders.

But the RTC’s traffic engineer says the signal times across the valley all depend on what time and day you travel.

Often there’s nothing coming, so why can’t we keep going? Traci Fike, another driver wonders.

“It’s really inconvenient,” Matthews adds.

It’s a complaint, 8 News NOW hears constantly from viewers in What’s Driving You Crazy?

so how does signal timing work in the valley?

“We try to time the signals accordingly to help as many people get through as much as possible,” said Theresa Gaisser, traffic engineer, RTC.

It all comes together at the RTC’s Traffic Management Center where 8 News Now got a grand tour.

“It always depends on what time of day you’re traveling at, I think there are certain expectations that are reasonable,” Gaisser said.

The team is in charge of 1,500 signals across southern Nevada. They manage movement with metal sensors in the ground, computer signals and even infared lights. 

“We try to continue that pattern along through corridors, so that it seems continuous as you’re driving along it,” Gaisser said.

Cycles change every one to three minutes, but if you catch a spot while the signal is shifting, you could wait longer.

People pushing that pedestrian button slows or stops traffic to let them cross an intersection on foot. Construction is also crucial. Lane closures change the intersection flow and cause more backup.

But Gaisser says no matter how frustrated you feel, never put yourself in danger.

“We always ask that you’re patient, please don’t run red lights.”

And plan for a longer wait.

“When you’re trying to get somewhere, it can seem longer than it really is,” said driver Barry Beaudoi.

As rush hour hits its daily peak.

“It is what it is, just turn up your music a little louder,” Fike suggested.

The RTC says there are several signals not working properly, but they’re on track to get fixed.

If you notice a light time that feels longer than it should be, you can contact the RTC by phone or email. That information can be found through this link.

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