Several U.S. cities have switched to LED traffic lights because they last longer, burn brighter and use 90 percent less energy than incandescent bulbs. Unfortunately, “green” traffic lights also emit less heat leaving them unable to melt snow, a serious problem across the Midwest.
In April, Lisa Richter was making a left turn on green in Oswego when she was struck by a vehicle traveling the opposite direction, killing her instantly.
Authorities say Richter, 34, might still be alive if not for an unintended consequence of green technology — the LED traffic signal facing the other driver was obscured by snow. Oswego police Detective Rob Sherwood called the snow-covered energy-efficient signal “a contributing factor” in the crash.
“If the light had not been covered, I personally feel the accident would have not occurred,” he said.
“Green” light manufactures have already said they could add “a heating element to LED signals,” but that would simply diminish the signals’ energy savings.