Going green: smart traffic lights cut down your commute

Going green: smart traffic lights cut down your commute

PAWLEYS ISLAND, SC (WMBF) – A new technology for traffic signal software will be installed along the South Strand, which should reduce the amount of time you travel along that corridor.

Michael Bethea, a traffic engineer with SCDOT, explained the "Adaptive Signal Control" system is computer related and allows the traffic signals to communicate with each other.

In general terms, the SCDOT cameras along the roadway pick up the number of vehicles on the street which then adjusts the traffic signals to optimize the flow of traffic.

"If 50 cars pass through one intersection," Bethea explained, "then that light tells the next signal if it should turn green or not." It figures that out by taking the number of cars into consideration, along with the speed limit and distance. The signal is able to determine how quickly that row of cars will approach the next intersection. If there is time, the signal will then choose to service the side road.

"If you've ever been stuck on a side road and there is no traffic passing in front of you on the main street, you may wonder why the light hasn't turned green yet. This should help answer that question," explained Bethea.

The system is also able to store the data. For example, if a school lets out at 3 p.m., the traffic signal will know to expect an influx of cars in a certain area at that time. It stores the information and can anticipate the traffic, adjusting the lights to make traffic flow better. This is the first system of its kind to be installed within District 5, which includes the counties of Darlington, Dillon, Florence, Georgetown, Horry, Marion, Marlboro and Williamsburg.

A total of six traffic lights will be installed, two in Pawleys Island and four in the Median Consolidation Project.

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