Traffic Signals Q and A
Signal maintenance crews receive many questions about the operation of traffic signals. We have listed a few of them below, along with some answers. If you have further questions, please feel free to submit them by e-mail.
- Why doesn’t the signal “pick me up?”
City of Victorville traffic signals detect traffic with a buried loop or above-ground video camera.
First, the loops are able to detect only vehicles that pass over the loops. If you are having trouble with a particular signal, be sure that you are stopping with the front of your car at the stop bar. It is often easy to pull forward too far and out of the loop.
Second, some vehicles (particularly bicycles) do not have enough mass to trigger the loops. This is unfortunate, but present technology utilized in the City does not sense bicycles.
Third, the loop may be defective or, if you are not picked up at an intersection with video detection, it usually means that the camera is out of adjustment. If you suspect that a loop or camera is not functioning, call the Public Works Department and we will have it checked.
- Why does the signal go to a side street when no one is there?
The most common reason that a signal goes to a side street when there is no one waiting is that a car has made a “right turn on red.” Most signals in the City can detect that the vehicle has turned and will not go to the side street in these conditions. If the signal begins to change to the side street, however, the process must be completed.
If a detection loop has failed, the signal must be set to go to the side street every cycle. If this were not done, the cars entering from the side street would never get a green light. This is a short-term problem that is normally corrected in a few days.
- Why can’t the signals be coordinated?
Some traffic signals in the City actually are coordinated. The problem, simply stated, is that coordinated systems cannot be perfectly timed.
Designing coordination for a one-way street is quite simple. One simply looks at how long it will take a vehicle to travel from one intersection to the next, and times the greens so that they occur at the proper time.
With two-way streets, the problem becomes more complex. Timing must be designed so those vehicles traveling in both directions arrive at the intersections at the same time. When one considers traffic from the side streets, and that the intersections are not uniformly spaced, it becomes clear that there are no perfect solutions.
Traffic engineers examine these circumstances very carefully and attempt to design “best-fit” timing. In Victorville, under normal conditions, you may have to stop for one or two signals. If you enter from a side street, there may be more delays as you’re assimilated into the “platoon” of cars traveling down the roadway as a group.
- Who do I call if I suspect a problem?
The signal maintenance division of the City of Victorville maintains signals in the City. To report a problem, call our office at: 760.955.5158
- Light Emitting Diodes (LED)
The City of Victorville continues installing LED traffic signal indicators. These new state of the art indicators have proven to be brighter, last longer and use far less electricity than incandescent bulbs. It is estimated that the installation of these new LED indicators, partially funded through a $136,000 California Energy Commission Grant, will save the City of Victorville approximately $60,000 per year in reduced energy costs.
- Uninterruptible Power Source (UPS)
The City of Victorville continued pursuit of enhancing the public’s safety by installing UPS at various intersections throughout the City. This is a two-year program where each traffic signal within the City shall receive a UPS system. These systems are designed to keep the traffic signal operational for up to eight hours in the event that power is lost.