Traffic Light Zappers?

Okay, this is one of those times when I hope I’m being whooshed.
I would hope that it’s all a joke but it seems all too real.

Just heard the local morning drive DJs talking about a new device on the market that allows you to change a traffic light from red to green.

This can’t be real. Can it? Sure doesn’t even seem legal.
Can you imagine the mayhem if half the people on the road have these?

It’s amazing how so many people on the road have the patience of a four year old.

Anybody else heard about this?

Apparently it’s an infrared strobe light.

Sort of like your TV remote, just stronger.

Being an infrared device, it’s not controlled by any federal agency and is legal for sale.

And yes, it works in some locations.

Here’s a story about it from a Michigan paper.

And you’re not being whooshed.

Thanks for the info,Rico.

Here is a supplier of one device. They market it to emergency vehicle operators.

I have an older version of one of these devices. It’s just a battery powered strobe light. I suspect the infrared filter BS is just so if a vehicle in front of you (or more importantly a cop) won’t slam on their brakes and/or give you a ticket.

Mine does work, and I bought it on a whim probably 8 or 9 years ago. Like you said, it was a stupid purchase. Wow, I can make the light change 10 seconds faster than it would ordinarily…so what?

About the only new thing this place is offering is a dash mount for the device. Mine was basically a strobe flashlight. The range is definitely better at night than during the day, but that said, it really doesn’t save you any time because it doesn’t do anything about the cars in front of you that are stopped at the red light which still slow you down, and you have to be close (like 200 feet) so you are at a slow roll at that point anyway.

All it is doing is cycling the light, so don’t be under the impression it goes STRAIGHT TO GREEN as soon as you hit it with the strobe. It still has to let the other direction light do the yellow-then-red thing first to stop traffic. So you still have to wait a few seconds. In other words, you still have to come to a complete stop 95% of the time, and at best, you are doing a very slow roll. In theory you might be able to just cruise through as the light was just turning green, but I’d hate to be hit by the guy who was running the ‘unexpected yellow’ light he got going the other direction

In my area, they are called Opticon™ and are mounted on fire, EMS, and police vehicles. They contain a coded signal allowing the authority having jurisdiction to review what vehicle pre-empted what signal at what time. It’s a safe bet that if your device isn’t permitted, someone will be looking for you in short order.

The use of the Opticom or any other system that EVO’s use to control traffic control devices, are governed by any particualr states rules of the road. First and foremost though, for these things to work properly, there has to be a receiver on the light set. If there’s no receiver, you can flash your light until you’re blue in the face, and you’ll get nowhere. On some systems, the lights are programmed to turn all red, so that everyone stops for the EV passing thru. Which, for the unauthorized user, does no damn good at all. Plus, there’s usually a flashing direction indicator on the traffic light, that will let those in the know, know what direction the activation comes from.

The FCC?

There was one for sale on ebay yesterday and bidding was ~ $400. I just checked the link and it looks as if ebay removed it.

What would be the point of using one? EV don’t need one because they have the right of way already. If everyone has one then no one would make it through an intersection :slight_smile:

Yeah, but they slow down a lot before going through a red light, so guaranteeing a green would help them.

I haven’t been able to find a cite but I heard a Montgomery County (Maryland) LEO say these MIRT (mobile infrared transmitter) devices are illegal for civilian use in his county and probably wouldn’t work anyway because their emergency vehicles use a different system.

I did find lots of articles about the dangers of widespread MIRT use and that lawmakers are sudying the problem. Here’s an article from last Friday’s edition of the Washington Post: Red Light Needed for MIRT Devices.

Your air conditioner or reving your engine works almost as well. When you stop at a red light, turn your air conditioner on high and recirculate for a sec, then shut it down, most of the time the light will cycle. I discovered this years ago. My husband says I’m nuts, but I get home from the same place faster than he does. No, I don’t speed :slight_smile:
At least in WA, using an Opticom improperly is illegal.

Even cheaper is to just count backwards from 33! By the time you get to zero (or even before) the red light will nearly always have changed.

Also, as buttonjockey said, these only work on the newer stoplights that include a receiver to see that signal. Most of the stoplights I wait at are at least 30 years old, and would not respond to this at all.

And before my city spends tax money on retrofitting receivers to these old stoplights (unlikely anyway in this bushwacked economy), I’d demand that they look into demand-driven stoplights, where the lights respond to the traffic load on the streets. I find it much more annoying to sit and wait at a red light when there is absolutely no traffic on the cross street!

It could also be just an empty box, like that radar jammer thing that came out before:
"Except for the Phantom, which contains rudimentary radar-detection circuitry, each is essentially an empty box with a 12-volt power cord, a cheap cast-plastic waveguide assembly, one or two front-mounted LEDs, a basic power-supply circuit and a button or two. Press the button and an LED lights up, accompanied by a tinny bird whistle. (“Our patented ‘FM Chirp’, " company salesmen proudly proclaim.) We’ve tested these products a dozen times against every front-line police radar gun and laser, finding all of them utterly worthless.”