Red-light system tracks cars, can delay green to avoid accidents

By Tarik Minor - Anchor, I-TEAM reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Have you ever been at an intersection and as your light turns green and you start to go, you have to slam on the brakes because some other car comes flying through a red light?

Well, some of those intersections are about to get a lot safer for you.

The Florida Department of Transportation has given Jacksonville the green light to install automated collision prevention technology on some of the city's red light cameras.

The Halo safety feature measures the speed and distance of a vehicle approaching an intersection. If the computer determines the car is about to run a red light, it delays the green light for crossing traffic.

Red-light runners typically don't even realize they've run a red light until they've put someone else's life in danger.

Broadside collisions known as T-bone crashes often end in the death of the driver who didn't do anything wrong.

"You've got those T-bones and you're just like the person who is going to be really injured or dead. There's no way around it," said Ben McCorkel, a traffic safety instructor for the Northeast Florida Safety Council.

McCorkel, who worked as an emergency medical technician for seven years, said the Halo collision technology will undoubtedly save lives on the road.

"You look at people going through an intersection at 20 or 30 mph and they hit a person going 5-10 mph on a red light, and you've got a lot of energy going through a person right there," McCorkel said.

A Florida Department of Transportation spokesman said the Halo collision prevention system will be installed at 11 Jacksonville intersections powered by state-of-the-art technology that takes distance and speed into consideration.

"The individual is going to run the red light; this computer says speed and distance, he won't be able to stop, and it will hold," Jacksonville Sheriff John Rutherford said. "Now this light is going to turn red. The person is going to run the red light and get his $158 ticket, but the cross tracker will be delayed. Their light won't turn green until they clear the intersection."

Rutherford said the revenues from red light runners caught on camera will pay for the Halo system, which cost $10,000 per location.

Even with the technology installed at selected intersections, motorists say they'll still drive defensively.

"I purposely pause because I see so many people blow through red lights here in Jacksonville or in Florida in general," driver Phillip Litfin said.

"I think it's unfortunate that we've come to a point that our stupidity has to be tempered with our technology, but thankfully our technology can do that," driver Travis Hough said.

It's technology said to have a sixth sense, aware of a potentially fatal crash before it happens.

According to the manufacturer of the Halo technology, the device is expected to reduce the crash rate by 24 percent. It's expected to decrease the number of fatalities by more than 20 percent.

To learn more about the Halo system, click here.

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