‘Red light texters’ wreak havoc on traffic

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LAFAYETTE – Nicole Hayes has a front row seat to the problems at Kossuth and Main.

“Usually people are texting or looking at their phones and the person behind them is usually honking at them,” she told Fox59.

There is no rush at rush hour as drivers get backed up.

“The cars would be backed up for blocks,” said Lafayette Traffic Foreman Fred Koning. “It could be five or ten minutes at a light.”

Koning was watching the back-ups every day on computer screens that monitor traffic flow.

“There would actually be a gap between the cars as the light would turn green,” Koning said. “You may have one or two cars go and other cars waiting and we noticed the driver that was holding up the line was distracted by something.”

That distraction was their cell phone.

It is against the law to text and drive in Indiana. But, it is not against the law to text at a stoplight.

Kossuth and Main in Lafayette is notorious for something called “red light texters”—drivers who text or use email at red lights and don’t realize the light turned green. Now, it’s starting to get dangerous.

“When people wait, then they run red lights,” Koning said.

And there’s also another problem–those red light texters were confusing the computer sensors that control the lights.

“When there are no cars it automatically goes to the next part of the cycle,” Koning explained. “The electronic sensors in the ground are set to cycle through every three seconds if there is no activity. The problem was there was no activity because the car was sitting on the plates, three seconds would go by and the lights would cycle through. So the city had to extend the time (by) three seconds.”

That wasn’t the only solution, however.

“We had to extend it to six seconds in order for it to clear the traffic out,” he said. “We just tried it.”

It worked. Traffic is flowing better through the intersection, but Nicole Hayes still gets quite a show now and then.

“I mean, I still do hear quite a lot of honks,” she said.

The city of Lafayette actually had to tweak dozens of intersections, adding two to three seconds to smooth out the traffic flow.

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