This Traffic Light Only Turns Green for Good Drivers

A pilot program in Canada is testing the smart traffic light

Jun 12, 2023
This Traffic Light Only Turns Green for Good Drivers | A pilot program in Canada is testing the smart traffic light

How do you get drivers to slow down? Instead of giving speeding tickets, how about rewarding good drivers instead? That’s exactly what a new smart traffic light is doing in the city of Brossard in Quebec, Canada. It’s part of a new pilot program.

The city has stationed the first traffic light of its kind in the country outside the Académie Marie-Laurier school, reported Global News. The traffic light is red by default and only turns green for cars that are driving the speed limit.  An attached speed camera detects the approaching car and the speed it is traveling.

The EARL system
The Educational Awareness Reward Light or EARL is similar to smart traffic lights that are used in Europe. Kalitech, the Quebec company that is behind the 90-day pilot project, said that the goal is to educate drivers to slow down.

 “We are using the signal that drivers already know to stop and to make them slow down. As soon as you have the right speed, the light will turn green,”  Kalitech CEO Charles-Emeric Lapointe told Global News.

While drivers do not have to legally stop at the red light and no penalties will be given out if someone drives through it, EARL is working on a reward system. Good drivers get to go and bad drivers have to wait at the red light.

Controlling speeding
Speeding through school zones has been an ongoing problem in Brossard, according to StreetsBlogMASS. The city has previously tried speed bumps, police patrols and other measures that were not very effective.

“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.

Before the smart traffic light was installed in May 2023, the average automobile speed was 40 kmph (25 mph) but it has dropped to 29 kmph (18 mph). While this is very effective, the mayor cautions that the smart traffic light can only be used in limited places on roadways that only have one lane in each direction. It will not work for busy intersections.

Still, a reward system seems to work better than a fine from a speed camera. “Fines might be effective, but it’s effective after-the-fact,” said Assaad. “The beauty of  [EARL] is we reward good behavior, and it’s immediate. It doesn’t record any private information; it just detects that the vehicle is coming and measures its speed. So it’s a carrot instead of a stick.”

When the pilot program is over, reported Global News, the data will be sent to the Quebec Transport Ministry and studied for approval.

“We’re looking forward for it to be regulated and it can be used everywhere because we are optimistic that it will be effective in getting drivers to slow down,” Lapointe told Global News.  He added other Canadian cities have shown interest in the smart traffic light.

It’s an easy and pain free way to retrain drivers to slow down in school zones and that will increase safety and benefit the community as a whole.

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Bonnie has dedicated her life to promoting social justice. She loves to write about empowering women, helping children, educational innovations, and advocating for the environment & sustainability.