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Traffic lights can be unpredictable. There’s no rhyme or reason on how long they last. Some lights stay red for a short time, others go on and on. Cars waiting at red lights are idling and wasting fuel. That’s a problem. If automobile drivers knew how long a light was they could turn off their engines to save money on gas.

Some new cars employ “start-stop” technology. Great if you have a new car. But what about the rest of us?

A possible solution is the concept “sand glass” traffic light created by Thanva Tivawong, a designer based in Thailand. It depicts a sand glass, with the trickle down of virtual sand, counting down how long the red and green will remain. When approaching 3 seconds left after the red and green light, the LEDs switch to yellow and gives an exact count on how much time is left.  The yellow countdown is a buffer between the lights.

The sand glass traffic light has the potential to help an automobile driver save money on gas. A car idling for more than 10 seconds is a waste of gas. By knowing the duration of the light, the driver can decide whether it’s wise to turn their car off. The light gives the driver a heads up when the light is about to turn green so they can start their engine.

The typical driver idles at traffic lights for 10 minutes a day. During the 10 minutes stop, roughly 1/10 of a gallon of gas is lost. In a year, up to $120 is wasted by idling at traffic lights.  The sand glass light could make a lot of sense, particularly at intersections with long red lights.

Americans yearly waste approximately 3.8 million gallons of gasoline by idling their cars. Every gallon of gasoline burned releases 20 pounds of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Transportation in this country contributes for about a quarter of the overall carbon dioxide emissions. By turning off their car at a traffic light, the driver will be able to make a contribution to reducing emissions.

What do you think? Will drivers turn their cars off at lights if they knew the duration in order to save gas money on gas?

Earthgarage – Greener Car. Fatter Wallet

Every gallon of gasoline burned—for driving and idling—releases 20 pounds of carbon dioxide, making the transportation sector responsible for about a quarter of overall US carbon dioxide emissions.[3] Yet individual car owners aren’t the only ones responsible for these emissions—so, too, are long-haul truckers and school bus drivers throughout the country.