New adaptive traffic light system causes headaches for some drivers

MECHANICSBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – It’s supposed to cut down on congestion and keep traffic running smoothly, but a new adaptive traffic light system is a bump in the road for some drivers in Cumberland County.

Traffic lights along the Carlisle Pike, from Route 114 to the Route 581 interchange, work a bit differently now. They’re the latest installments of adaptive signals.

“This new system uses video detection technology,” said Bill Smith, senior supervising technician with PERCS, a company tasked with maintaining 33 intersections now using cameras and other technology.

We first told you about this system when it went live in Camp Hill last month. It times lights based on traffic volume, not a set rotation.

“It will keep traffic flowing longer,” PennDOT spokesperson Fritzi Schreffler said in January. “You won’t be sitting at a series of signals coming down the bypass.”

But now that it’s online elsewhere, Smith is noticing a problem: drivers expect the same traffic light sequence, so some anticipate a green when the rotation would normally get to them and let off the brakes.

“And then their direction does not get a green like they were expecting,” Smith said, “and they’ll continue sometimes to inch out into traffic.”

He’s asking for patience.

“I think it is frustrating. Just get used to it and have patience,” he said. “It will not cycle the way that you’re used to seeing for all these years.”

Both Smith and PennDOT say short-term headaches aside, the new system will help relieve congestion in the long run.

Adaptive signals on Route 22 through Lower Paxton Township should go live in the coming days, Smith added, bringing the final tally to 53 intersections in Dauphin and Cumberland counties.

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