It is one of the most frustrating things about driving — the traffic lights that turn red just as you approach.
But a world without the interminable waits could be around the corner thanks to a clever dashboard gadget.
It uses timing information from new-style traffic lights transmitted to drivers whose cars are fitted with special devices. Motorists are alerted to the status of the traffic lights and how long each colour will last.
The alert also advises the best speed at which to drive to ensure they get there just in time for the lights to change to green. The technology, being trialled by Ford, could end the estimated two days a year commuters spend waiting at junctions.
A Ford spokesman said: “At a distance of between 300m and 500m the car is able to pick up a communication signal from the traffic light.
“The driver may, for instance, be travelling at 30mph (48km/h) in a built-up area. The system will warn that if they continue at that speed, the lights will be on red when they reach them. “But it advises the driver that if they drop their speed to 20mph (32km/h) or 25mph (40km/h), then the lights will be on green when they get there.”
Similarly, it may tell the driver that if they continue at the same speed they will be stopped on red at the next lights — but if they increase their speed slightly, they will sail through a green light. The innovation means motorists could avoid all red lights during their journey.
Transport for London and some councils already use electronic systems that give buses priority at traffic lights — switching them to red for cars so that buses coming out of special lanes can pass through.
Christian Ress, supervisor for driver-assist technologies at Ford, says: “There’s not much worse after a long day than to hit one red light after another on the drive home, and be forced to stop and start again at every junction.
“Enabling drivers to ‘ride the green wave’ also means a smoother, continuous journey that helps to improve the flow of traffic.”
In conjunction with Jaguar Land Rover and Tata, the company is also trialling technology that connects cars so a vehicle that brakes suddenly around a blind bend can warn cars travelling up to 500m behind about the unseen hazard, and even apply the brakes automatically.
The traffic light trials will take place in Milton Keynes and Coventry over the next two years. Daily Mail