What if a speed limit sign told you the most efficient speed to drive?

Econs don’t always drive the speed limit. They know that sometimes driving the limit (or over it) can get you stuck behind slower cars or always stopping and restarting at red lights. Gridlock guru Tom Vanderbilt recently came across something called the TrafficFlow Manager that tries to help Humans drive more like Econs.

(It is) a driver alert display that works with traffic signal timing to alleviate traffic congestion. When mounted along a route with timed traffic signals, the display informs drivers that the lights are synchronized and lets them know the proper speed they must maintain in order to avoid having to stop for a red light.

Traffic engineers already try to set lights to improve traffic flow patterns. This “smart” device links the lights to the signs. The sign’s manufacturer says this kind of synchronization reduces delays and saves fuel.


  • Jan Gephardt

    What a great idea. I have every confidence it would work on me–I’d give it a try, and if it worked (if the sign was correct and I really could get through the traffic lights better), I’d be hooked for sure!

  • Robert

    Shucks, every metro Detroiter knows that. Every major boulevard has timed lights, and they’re set for about 3 over the speed limit. We all just figured to cruise at that speed, because going faster gets you punished at every light.

    On my commute from Pontiac to Royal Oak down Woodward Avenue, it was normal for me to roll through 20 lights, 17 of which were green. Once or twice I made my whole commute without stopping.

    “The Michigan Left” didn’t hurt, as it meant every intersection had only two phases, no need to provide for left turns.

  • Janet Brown

    I would LOVE to have this option on our roads. If it could help me save time or gas money, that would be awesome!

  • Yinna

    Erm… guys? We’ve been doing this in Europe for 25 years. If you drive the speed limit on major streets, you’ll be able to go through without stopping. I always assumed this was much harder to achieve in the US, because so many cities are made on a grid pattern with many major thoroughfares, so I’m happy to see it’s possible after all. But novel? Nah.