About Jason Fried
Jason co-founded Basecamp back in 1999. He also co-authored REWORK, the New York Times bestselling book on running a "right-sized" business. Co-founded, co-authored... Can he do anything on his own?
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David Andersenon 31 Dec 09
Now THAT is a bloody good idea.
Adam Lawrenceon 31 Dec 09
I have seen similar setups on busy pedestrian crossings – like outside the main railway station in Hamburg. The pedestrian light also has a countdown function.
Brett Atkinon 31 Dec 09
I bet the street racers love this.
Ted Kimbleon 31 Dec 09
I’ve been saying this is what taillights should look like for years, with the progress bars indicating the degree of braking. It would sure help with those unnecessary break tappers on the highways.
carlivaron 31 Dec 09
But will it melt snow?
Saverio Mondellion 31 Dec 09
It’s a great idea in theory, and I’d love to see it implemented, but the problem with this is that people will know when the light is going to turn green and that alone will ultimately lead to people “jumping the gun” on red lights more often than they do now. It’s already an issue that people “jump the gun” when they see the opposing traffic light turn red (and efforts by Traffic Regulators have been made to hide this from opposing traffic), this will likely worsen that. It sucks that we have to design products to prevent idiots from doing stuff like that and in the process we ruin good design and implementation for everyone.
Passerby Designeron 31 Dec 09
I agree w/ Saverio.
Sounds great in theory, but this could potentially lead to more accidents.
People punching the pedal as soon as it goes green
People punching the pedal to beat the red light.
Not a good contest to see.
Jacobon 31 Dec 09
@Saverio If it were good design, it would help the ‘idiots’ not endanger them.
Jay Godseon 31 Dec 09
Absolutely brilliant. I’m for transparency. Give people good information, and they will make good decisions.
All new pedestrian lights in Ottawa seem to be getting countdown timers, and these are great for drivers as well.
Jonathan Lanctoton 31 Dec 09
It’s too clever: having the “progress indicator” doesn’t add any meaningful or actionable information for drivers. Green means go, yellow means slow down, red means stop, and nothing more: that’s as simple as it gets. Adding additional non-actionable information is distracting, and distractions lead to accidents.
Ask yourself this question: what problem does this solve? Do we really have a problem knowing when the light changes?
James Hurston 31 Dec 09
I think this is a FAKE.
Deltaplanon 31 Dec 09
@Jonathan It may solve the problem that some drivers find it too slow to come back to green, especially during the night and in rural areas, where there is very low traffic, and many drivers are wondering if the signal is working at all when they find it stays at red for too long.
It’s a way to make drivers more patient, telling them : “don’t worry, your turn is coming soon…”
Marc Tiedemannon 31 Dec 09
@Jonathan I totally go with you. Keep it simple. It looks cool at first glance but it doesn’t add any really helpful functionality, but leaves us puzzled at how many drivers would “punch the pedal”.
When I look at that thing I feel an awkward tension and I guess it’s just a result of our fast paced lifestyle in which informations are overflowing and everything has to happen right now. Patience? It comes from your inside not from some fancy traffic-light telling you when it’s time to go.
Berserkon 31 Dec 09
I also agree with Jonathan.
This is an attention grabber. Since you now know exactly when the light is going to change you are supposed to (by the drivers behind) to go as soon as the light turns green. This will lead to many people looking at the progress bar instead of checking their surroundings properly.
Good in theory, bad in practice.
Jack Kinsellaon 31 Dec 09
I do see another point in the light’s favor, although all in all I agree with Jonathan and Saverio,
A progress bar would indicate to drivers if they have enough time to do non driving activities such as check a map or phone, have a bit of a sandwich and so on.
Of course a simple countdown timer would fulfill this need better.
Anonymous Cowardon 31 Dec 09
I must agree with most people who posted before me. My first thought was “Aren’t we stressed enough already?”
You know, what happened to letting your thoughts relax for a minute, typing a quick text message or hopelessly searching around in your bad for something at the red light?
Now instead (and I WILL ‘cause once it exists it will be irresistible not to watch the progress bar) now I have to count down the second till green. Being even more irritated by the slow reaction of the car behind me, ‘cause “didn’t they see green was coming“
And what about those speed devils that see a red light with only two bars left and just keep flooring it because “hey what the heck, by the time they cross the intersection it’ll be green, right” Now that’s gonna cause some nasty accidents for sure…
Jermaine2028on 31 Dec 09
In some countries this concept already is implemented. In Suriname (south-america) for example. They use, believe it or not, count-down timers. And really, it seems to work perfectly fine…
It looks something like this: http://bit.ly/6Dj3O1
Martin Westinon 31 Dec 09
Worst idea ever.
For one thing, modern traffic lights are sensitive to the amount of traffic and have cycles that constantly change to optimize the flow of traffic. This is decided “mid-sequence” i.e. there is no way to pre-determine the time.
You would have to forgo that “AI” for the benefit of this timer… and I imagine that the optimization saves more CO2 that the timer would. Certainly in a cold climate where stopping and starting the engine usually cause more emissions than idling for 30sec.
Willon 31 Dec 09
It seems like a countdown on the green light (until it’s no longer green) would be just as useful, and much more in the spirit of promoting safety at intersections.
It’s an interesting idea though, regardless of which light it’s used on.
dustinon 31 Dec 09
Agree with Anonymous Coward
I like it, but agree that you need to cater to the worst drivers: those that will only slow approaching so they can hit Green still driving 30mph.
The person trying to beat the yellow will get T-Boned at a higher speed.
Unfortunately too many will game the system because they are better drivers than “those other idiots”
Davidon 31 Dec 09
This idea is terrible. I agree with many of the reasons mentioned before.
When you’re at a red light, you’re just waiting for green. You shouldn’t be trying to balance other activities against a timer. That’s crazy.
I think the fact that people can see the countdown timer for pedestrians is pretty dangerous. I’m always gauging that thing as I drive to try and match my pace to the timer from the moment my eyes can make out what is on the timer. So I focus more on that little stupid timer and less on the road and possible hazards.
The same thing applies to this bad idea. I’m cruising 40mph towards the light and I see that red light timer. I decide to keep going because I know it will be green when I get there. I hit it right on the green—Perfect! Then I get t-boned to death by the other guy as stupid as me who is pushing the limits on the yellow going the other direction. We’re both dead.
But here’s another issue: increased costs.
Introducing more and more “features” into a system like this is going to require more cost to setup, it’s going to be more expensive to maintain, and it’s going to be more prone to errors.
But in the end… what else can you expect from government. They need reasons to expand and this is the kind of idea they are looking for every day.
Really?on 31 Dec 09
Every traffic light in Europe has been like this forever… they turn yellow/green before green. It reduces traffic which is caused not by the volume of vehicles on the road, but by the difference in speed (why traffic occurs at intersections). This model alerts everyone that the light is going to change and they can move more as a unit instead of going one at a time. Criticize it all you want the model is proven.
Markon 31 Dec 09
If you’re in a place in life where you’re not satisified in knowing you have to stop, but also how long you’ll have to stay stopped, maybe it’s time to step out of the car, do some yoga and recontemplate your life.
Randomon 31 Dec 09
It would add a ton of actionable information for me: My car has that fancy stop/start mechanism which turns the engine off once I shift gear to neutral and release the clutch pedal. It saves on gas from 7 seconds onwards.
Right at the moment it’s a guessing game whether the lights may turn green right after I shut down the engine. With those indicators I know what to do.
(And you guessed it: The auto manufacturers think about having that progress indicator wirelessly transmitted to the car so that in the future the electronics can decide whether to stop the engine or not)
Honestlyon 31 Dec 09
Seriously Jonathan L and the rest… “its as simple as red, yellow, green?”... what fantasy world are you living in. Have you never been at a stop light witnessing some moron freaking out because it has been red for too long. I think its a great idea just to get those idiots to stop having a fit… at least they will know when the light is going to turn green.
Shawnon 31 Dec 09
IMO, the simple traffic light is an example of perfect design. It’s utterly simple and does exactly what it needs to do with so very little.
This is a bad idea for the reasons that several people have pointed out. It would encourage drivers to cheat, to anticipate the change from red to green (or vise versa) and lead to bad decisions. It also gives the light itself too much authority in the sense that ‘green’ isn’t really supposed to mean ‘Go!’ but rather ‘proceed with caution.’
Also, not to be “that guy” but this was on Reddit like a month ago.
Cdoton 31 Dec 09
If the current system is so perfect, why are there so many accidents at intersections? More information will only help people make better informed decisions.
Cdoton 31 Dec 09
To be honest, they should replace most traffic lights with round-abouts. They’re a much safer and efficient option.
Markon 31 Dec 09
Although not a big fan of the progress bar, I do like the safety implication of the larger red light.
Chrison 01 Jan 10
Here in Florianópolis, Brazil, we have Dragster style traffic lights with six red, six green lights and one yellow light. When about to turn green, they start the countdown. Same goes for the green light.
Sukh Dugalon 01 Jan 10
Interesting visual concept, although the countdown functions much better and if executed well, can be made to look very graceful with street signs.
David Andersenon 01 Jan 10
“Give people good information, and they will make good decisions.”
jelkinon 02 Jan 10
As it’s designed, it makes no sense, does it mean it’s not a stop until both are solid red (the red dot in the middle and the outer circle?) – and if actually used this for yellow, it would be dangerous as if you saw the outside cycle was closing in, you’d actually speed up … so really, quite stupid for car traffic – might be okay for pedestrian signals or anything not involving three tons objects moving at 50 miles towards each other – you don’t want too much ambivilence just for the sake of ‘pretty.’
Dmitry Gorshkovon 02 Jan 10
Great idea, but I think just the green light needs a progress bar b/c some people will try to cross the intersection on an ‘almost full’ red progress bar -> more accidents.
Goran Anicicon 02 Jan 10
These traffic lights there for a long time, only instead of Progress Bars we have a timers, stored next to the lights. These timers are indicated on the rest of the time to initiation of green light.
This discussion is closed.