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A device designed to help drivers make split-second decisions at intersections and reduce accidents is to be installed on a trial basis at a Tel Aviv intersection.
The "smart traffic sign" was developed by Dr. Yotam Abramson and researchers at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa.
It comprises two video cameras on a pole, one focused on the main street and the other on the secondary one. Beneath them is a computer that processes data it receives from the cameras. When it identifies a collision risk, it activates blinking lights on "give the right of way" signs to increase drivers' alertness.
Collisions at intersections without traffic lights, Abramson said, can occur when a driver on the secondary road doesn't see a yield sign to know he doesn't have the right of way, or when he sees the sign but doesn't process what is taking place at the intersection.
"In both cases, the driver makes a wrong decision," he said. "Blinking lights, we believe, will make him pay attention to the sign and increase his level of alertness."
The Tel Aviv intersection of Rehov Reines and Rehov Esther Hamalka, which has no traffic lights, was chosen for the experiment. Traffic moves quickly there and visibility is limited, Abramson said. The four branches of the road are similar in width and the driver does not intuitively know who has the right of way. After the experiment is completed, accident and near-accident statistics will be processed, he said.
The Technion researchers are also working on a "smart traffic light" that identifies drivers about to drive through a red light at an intersection. It turns on blinding lights and then postpones the green light in the other direction.
The smart traffic light can also be used as a camera for law enforcement. A driver who is about to enter an intersection on a red light and causes the green light to be delayed in the other direction would be regarded as having entered on a red light and would be punished.
The Technion's Transportation Research Institute is working hard on advanced transportation systems, said its director, Prof. David Mahalal.
The systems integrate computerization and mechanization in traffic systems, he said. The research is being financed by the National Road Safety Authority with help from the Tel Aviv Municipality traffic division.