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Wasted gas at red lights


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I wonder if anyone has done a study on how much gas is wasted waiting for a light to turn green.I know some newer cars have a feature that cuts off the engine after idling so long.Personally I don't care for it. To me it seems like red lights are getting longer,green lights shorter and traffic heavier,especially here in Florida.

Edited by Buick35
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  • Buick35 changed the title to Wasted gas at red lights

I've got a new van with that auto-shut-off feature.  There is a button on the dash that will turn it off.  A lot of places have the lights synch'd so you can sail right through them, but if your (or their) timing is off-it's a real PITA sometimes. 

Terry

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Friends with the auto start stop do not like it. One has had to be "fixed" by the dealer three times so far. And then the is a second battery no one knows about.

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Current traffic management theory dictates "traffic calming" operation of traffic lights. In other words, short greens and yellows and long reds, with progressive reds. Perfect world idea is to keep traffic slowed and "calmed". Real world means snarled and stopped, with exponential time and gas wasted, and road rage brewing 🙄.

 

A local town is alarmed at the number of high-damage and fatality crashes along a 2 mile stretch of one of its main roads. 40mph speed limit, traffic usually moving at least 10 over, including the rare police vehicle seen. 2 lanes each north and south with a left turn lane. 11 traffic lights in that 2 mile stretch. All of them operate progressive red, meaning if, say, 8 cars get stopped at the first one, by the 5th one there are 50 cars backed up. By the 8th, 60-70 cars. Impossible to get out of a side street and most crashes are due to either that or drivers trying to get thru a yellow light so they won't get stuck thru two or more cycles of a red light.

 

 

Town hall meeting on it last night and the city's traffic control engineer had the stones to say he didn't see where the current traffic light control scheme had any effect on the number of crashes. I have never wanted to choke anyone as badly in my life as when he said that.

 

 

 

 

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2 hours ago, Buick35 said:

I wonder if anyone has done a study on how much gas is wasted waiting for a light to turn green.I know some newer cars have a feature that cuts off the engine after idling so long.Personally I don't care for it. To me it seems like red lights are getting longer,green lights shorter and traffic heavier,especially here in Florida.

Aberdeen, Washington is a perfect example for what engineering can do to prevent wasted gas while stopped at lights. Aberdeen has about 15 stop lights situated every block or so. If you are stopped at the first light, as you enter town, and leave the intersection at a constant speed of 30 MPH, the posted speed limit, you can drive, non stop, through every other light in Aberdeen. This is nice because Aberdeen is a beach side town with a lot of huge campers and logging trucks which normally cause traffic congestion.
Likewise, in Tacoma, Washington, it is absolutely impossible to travel more than a few blocks, at any speed, without getting stopped by a light. I believe the traffic lights in Tacoma are intentionally timed to regulate traffic speed and entice customers to stop at businesses along the route. I can’t believe that many of the lights are photo enforced, and the city government assesses a $147.00 fine for every traffic light violation caught by the camera.

Wouldn’t that be immoral, or at least unethical?

Edited by Jack Bennett (see edit history)
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It's the duration of the left-turn advance green arrows that perturb me the most.  The red lights to be getting longer, with the left-turn cycle, which also shortens the straight-thru green cycle in both directions.  I know in one city, they eliminated some of the green left-turn arrows on the busier routes and made the left-turners make three rights around the block to change direction, and it worked well, especially with the bigger trucks.

 

Craig

Edited by 8E45E (see edit history)
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The village a couple miles over has a traffic light, and when it was installed in 1980 they were unashamedly proud of it as it was the only one in the whole county! It worked great for years until some knucklehead from Connecticut moved here for VIR, got himself elected mayor, and decided that intersection needed to be a traffic-light-controlled 4-way stop. Idea being, again, "traffic calming". Or slowing traffic enough to get folks to look and hopefully stop and spend some money.

 

This light is at the crest of a hill. Lot of truck traffic thru that little burg. You can imagine what happens when that light forces a loaded truck to completely stop before it turns green.

 

Me and that peckerwood mayor have had some interesting conversations about that 4-way stoplight. Usually ends with me telling him he's still a damned idiot.🤡

 

One of the old biddies in that village wanted a 25mph speed limit in the worst way, so people would slow down and notice her antique shop. NCDOT wouldn't give her that but they did agree to 30. Her 17 yo grandson was the first to get a ticket after the limit dropped, and lordy didn't she carry on about that! The judge said "Harriett, you can't have it both ways". 😺

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No engine cutoff for me. I live in a suburban sprawl north of DFW that has expanded exponentially in the 29 years we have lived here. We are at the stage now where all of the original divided 4 lane plus a left turn lane at intersections parkway roads are being expanded to handle traffic. The new normal will be six lanes divided plus double left turn and separate right turn lanes at intersections. Needless to say this has lead to wait time at an intersection being quite long. Most lights are timed and controlled by pavement sensors to allow the light cycle to change at slow traffic periods and also to increase left turn time during rush hour periods. Being retired I almost never travel around at rush hour so it's kind of funny to see these enormous new streets sparsely traveled during most of the day then clog up at rush hour. 

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 Studys have shown from 2.5% to 10% savings of about 2 mpg.😐

 My new car has it and I don't mind it.

 By the time you lift your foot off of the brake, the car in front of you has just begun to move.

 If you are going to drag race your car, I would recommend to shut it off. 

 

 By the way, the engine is programmed to stop at a certain timing point and restarting requires almost no use of the starter.

 

😠

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My wife's new Ranger has that stop the engine feature and thankfully she hates it as bad as I do. Also thankfully, Ford provides a button to disable it. It has WAY too many electronic things, voices, lights, etc. for me, I wanted a "new" 61 Ranchero, ha !   Oh well, we still have the old Mini and the Studebaker, as well as two really simple little motor scooters to drive if we don't need to use the truck.

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57 minutes ago, E-116-YH said:

Hello Buick35,

                         I think you should just run every red light in an effort to save gasoline or move to the county where I live, there is only a 1/2 a traffic light in the entire county.

Where is that?

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Ugh!

If you'd really like something to complain about, 

Try riding a motorcycle.

99% of the under pavement sensors will not pick them up.  Here in the desert it's very common to see a rider wait for an opening and then run a red, after watching the intersection cycle 3 times without tripping the left turn signal.

I have been that guy as well.

I say bring back the traffic cop,  white gloves and whistle 👮‍♂️ 

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The focus on saving gas with stop/start technology has two purposes.  It helps the car manufacturer calculate (or realize) higher miles per gallon to comply with CAFE standards.  Saving you gas money is a slight side effect.  Making cars meet CAFE standards is a direct goal.  The second affect of stopping the engine at lights is to reduce emissions accumulation at lights.  Not sure if that is advertisement fodder or an intended goal.

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Our 18 Grand Cherokee has the button, dealer said the button is transitional and it may be a "you can live with it" thing in the future.  We turn it off.  Our son's 19 Jeep has same feature, he doesn't mind it.  

I still find it unsettling, especially in well, sketchy areas where I like to keep an open path if needed.

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I, too, have a 35 Buick.  A 1912 Model 35 Buick touring car, to be specific.  Shutting down the engine at lights saves a lot of gas and slows traffic nicely.  When the light turns green, I get out, crank the car, get back in, advance the spark, put it in gear and motor sedately off.  The city fathers love it that I keep people from roaring through town and endangering old ladies and little children.  More folks ought to try it!  😜

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All these traffic lights set up with timers is nonsense.  You want to tell me that with all the electronic technology we now have we cannot set up traffic lights with some type of sensor which would change the light only when necessary and change it back when that need has been addressed?  Please!  This only means they give the gas wasting discussion lip service and don't really care about doing anything to resolve it....

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In my community the answer to congested traffic lights is to remove the lights and install "round abouts". It is like a dog chasing its tail and some people really have problems with making a turn on a round about. I know that truckers just love them when they have deliveries in the city. Really takes some getting use to.

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2 hours ago, E-116-YH said:

Hello Buick35,

                        It is the county of Pend Oreille in Northeastern Washington State, the county seat butts up against the Idaho State line and there is a traffic light directly on the boarder at the intersection of HWY 2 and HWY 41. You might not like it here because it SNOWS, one year we got 10 feet during the winter.

 

 

I grew up near Chicago so I'm use to snow, however moved to Florida in 79 and am now sick of the summer heat and humidity.

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Well being pretty much retired I don’t drive as much as I used to(and most of that to some Doctor). That said milage is not as important to me as to some folks. I do not like the idea of idle stop and go. I don’t care how you reengineer the starters or anything else to make up for it. Since we are all going.to be driving battery operated cars soon according to what I read why bother?  Back 50 years ago when driving on the north side of Chicago(of all places)on Sheridan rd in the high rent district if you left the first traffic light and drove the speed limit you could almost make it to Evanston before you had to stop for another light(3or4 miles). If they could do it then, no excuse not to be able to do it now.

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1 hour ago, caddyshack said:

some people really have problems with making a turn on a round about.

The aggressive get more aggressive and the timid get more timid.

 

The one they put in up the street from me has a flower bed in the middle, crisscrossed with tire tracks. And each of the four entering points has had orange pylons, well damaged.

 

The Department of Transportation representative stood up at the village meeting, authoritatively cleared his throat, and announced that a motorist entering the circle would recognize a potentially dangerous situation and proceed with caution. How he ever did that with a straight face I will never know. I'm laughing right now.

 

The human mind does strange things under the affects of lateral forces.

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1 hour ago, caddyshack said:

In my community the answer to congested traffic lights is to remove the lights and install "round abouts". It is like a dog chasing its tail and some people really have problems with making a turn on a round about. I know that truckers just love them when they have deliveries in the city. Really takes some getting use to.

The previously mentioned knucklehead mayor originally wanted to do away with the traffic light entirely and put in a "rotary" as he called it.

 

The good citizens (most of whose families had been there since before the Revolutionary War) who owned the properties that would have had to be demolished to do it set him straight quickly.

 

A 4-way stop and a roundabout are inefficient ways to manage traffic.

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I had noticed for some time that as soon as a majority of the cars stop for a light, the drivers have to pick up their cell phone, and they all finish their text message before they begin to move when the light turns green. 

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3 hours ago, GregLaR said:

Ugh!

If you'd really like something to complain about, 

Try riding a motorcycle.

99% of the under pavement sensors will not pick them up.  Here in the desert it's very common to see a rider wait for an opening and then run a red, after watching the intersection cycle 3 times without tripping the left turn signal.

I have been that guy as well.

I say bring back the traffic cop,  white gloves and whistle 👮‍♂️ 

 

It helps if you stop directly over the traffic loop or even put your side stand down right on the loop.

If that fails, and no car comes behind you, then you have to run the light.

The newer intersection control systems that use cameras to detect vehicles are better at recognizing motorcycles than the traffic loop style.

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I live on Long Island and it seems like I have a traffic light every 100 feet. If I purchase a car with the auto shut off feature, I guess I should stop off at the parts department and pick up a couple of spare starter motors. I can't imagine the starter motor lasting very long with a couple hundred starts every day.

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3 hours ago, leomara said:

All these traffic lights set up with timers is nonsense.  You want to tell me that with all the electronic technology we now have we cannot set up traffic lights with some type of sensor which would change the light only when necessary and change it back when that need has been addressed?

Supposedly, the city with the crash problem has that technology. There are cameras on every traffic light tower and supposedly the cameras, pavement sensors, timers and car counters work together to control the lights. But I still think they've got it programmed for all the lights to go red one after another as you encounter them.

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43 minutes ago, rocketraider said:

The previously mentioned knucklehead mayor originally wanted to do away with the traffic light entirely and put in a "rotary" as he called it.

 

The good citizens (most of whose families had been there since before the Revolutionary War) who owned the properties that would have had to be demolished to do it set him straight quickly.

 

A 4-way stop and a roundabout are inefficient ways to manage traffic.

 

Roundabouts have been in use in the urban areas here in Tasmania for many years, at the intersections that can benefit from them. When folk learn how to use them the traffic flows much better than with lights, and the number of intersection collisions is way down. While the dinky little roundabouts installed in residential areas are annoying, they do slow down the speedsters. The centre islands are usually sloped to allow heavy transport tyres to ride up over them. 

 

Roundabouts are very common in Europe, and the drivers know how to use them.

 

We rented a car in France, and took it back to the depot because the darned thing stalled at every traffic stop. Nothing obvious amiss under the bonnet, either. I did feel a little silly when told it was meant to do that, as a new anti-pollution feature.

 

 

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10 minutes ago, Bush Mechanic said:

We rented a car in France, and took it back to the depot because the darned thing stalled at every traffic stop. Nothing obvious amiss under the bonnet, either. I did feel a little silly when told it was meant to do that, as a new anti-pollution feature.

 

As they say in the IT World, that's not a bug, that's a feature. :P

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Every time I go over to the Winter Garden Mall (often a couple of times a week), there are four roundabouts along the way. Biggest issue is those who do not understand "yield". At least they are paved and not brick like the entrance roads.

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Another thing I have noticed around here is that unlike back in ancient times a stop light with a sensor would trip and the light would go through a complete cycle. If you were approaching the light you could plan on it changing for you shortly. No more. Now unless you are sitting at the light when it cycles you will wait until it trips again. And not necessarily with you first.  And in addition it seems that there isn’t a set time for a cycle anymore. The lights act as if the sensor is programed to only allow so many seconds between cars going through. If someone is staring at his phone and leaves late the light will change and everyone behind him will sit through another cycle.

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In answer to the OP's question - Yes, back when most cars had carburetors several studies found that shutting off the motor used MORE gas when starting back up. Today - with computer controlled ignition and computer controlled fuel injection, it might be possible - but you know what? IT'S STUPID. It is better to be in complete control of the vehicle in case of emergency, than trying to satisfy rule-making jackasses who want to keep moving the goalpost. They think we are all brainless twits who don't deserve to be in control of our own lives. Eff 'em.
 

Now all you whiners go and yank Peter's chain to get my post taken down because you can't handle the truth.

Edited by Studemax (see edit history)
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6 hours ago, leomara said:

All these traffic lights set up with timers is nonsense.  You want to tell me that with all the electronic technology we now have we cannot set up traffic lights with some type of sensor which would change the light only when necessary and change it back when that need has been addressed?  Please!  This only means they give the gas wasting discussion lip service and don't really care about doing anything to resolve it....

Here is something to think about when it comes to fuel consumption. You are driving a four lane road through town, the speed limit is 45mph, you are in a pack of 18-20 cars, there is a pack of of about the same amount of cars coming toward you from the opposite. Some car approaches the intersection from a side road, the road sensors pick up the car and turn the signal red and make up to 40 cars stop for this one car. Think of the fuel wasted when it takes just one 3500lb car to accelerate back up to 45mph, think of the emissions compared to those 40 cars when  they were just cruising.......pure madness!

 

I'm surprised government hasn't outlawed drive through fast food.

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14 hours ago, leomara said:

All these traffic lights set up with timers is nonsense.  You want to tell me that with all the electronic technology we now have we cannot set up traffic lights with some type of sensor which would change the light only when necessary and change it back when that need has been addressed?  Please!  This only means they give the gas wasting discussion lip service and don't really care about doing anything to resolve it....

 

 Leo, those sensors have been around for YEARS!

 

  Ben

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Nothing new.  As a young hippie I wandered around India for several months in 1970 and was surprised that at every traffic light all drivers shut off their cars til the light changed. Dozens and dozens of black and yellow cars and 3 wheelers, all sitting silently waiting for the light.

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My pet hate , here in Uk we have a ridiculess amount of traffic lights , they drive me mad , I had not  thought about the fuel my v8 burning while stationary waiting , but just the other day I calculated I have wasted about a year of my life sat at traffic lights , not to mention rail crossings  bonkers !

Edited by Pilgrim65 (see edit history)
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