Elk Grove Signal Sychronization

traffic light

The City of Elk Grove has utilized signal synchronization along many streets within its limits.  The purpose of signal synchronization is to make traffic patterns more efficient.  It is frustrating as a driver to speed up, slow down and stop, then repeat the process over and over as you hit red light after red light on arterial streets.  The goal of synchronizing traffic signals is that drivers traveling the speed limit will have the signal turn green as they approach, eliminating, or at least reducing, the frustrating pattern of stop and go.

Signal synchronization can mean that side street and left turn lane lights are red for longer periods of time, and even when there is no cross traffic.  This occurs because the synchronized signals are functioning as a group, and the major arterial streets get priority passage.  The time “wasted” waiting for a side street or left turn lane to turn green should be easily recovered within the smooth passage on the main streets.  It is also important to note that the synchronization if in effect during heavy traffic times only, such as 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, although some areas are scheduled to be synced during the day on weekends as well.  Late at night, when the system is not in operation, a side street light should not take as long to turn green.

Sometimes it may seem like a traffic signal is delayed more then usual, making a wait for a green light longer.  This may be due to the signal getting back into the synchronization pattern after having been disrupted for some reason.

The synchronized signals are an incentive to stay within the speed limit.  If a driver speeds up to the next light, he or she will reach a red light and have to stop.  The signals are timed so that only a driver staying at the speed limit will receive a green without first having to stop.

The city traffic lights include devices that give emergency vehicles such as police cars, fire trucks and ambulances intersection priority – the signal in the emergency vehicle’s direction of traffic will change while all other directions turn red.  Essentially, speeding will make a driver have to stop more often.

Benefits of traffic signal synchronization:

  • Low cost and effective way to improve traffic flow
  • Reduction of driver stops
  • Reduction of gas usage caused by frequent stop/starts
  • Reduction of vehicle emissions and air quality improvement within the city of Elk Grove
  • Reduction of driver stress and frustration
  • Reduction of accidents
  • Incentive for drivers to travel within the speed limit
  • Reduction of traffic congestion
  • Improved flow for emergency vehicles.

Currently, only two major streets (Laguna-Bond and Elk Grove Boulevard) between certain points are synchronized but more are on schedule to be synced by the end of the year.

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