Take Caution at Wintry Intersections

LED bulbs in traffic lights burn so coolly that snow and ice don?t melt off, and can obscure the lights completely.
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LED bulbs in traffic lights burn so coolly that snow and ice don?t melt off, and can obscure the lights completely.

Have you noticed that traffic signals are looking a little different these days? What you're seeing is the effort to save money and energy. Cities across the United States are replacing their incandescent traffic lights with new, energy-efficient LED traffic signals.

LED bulbs in traffic lights burn so coolly that snow and ice don't melt off, and can obscure the lights completely. | Photo by Rene E. Riley

LED bulbs in traffic lights burn so coolly that snow and ice don't melt off, and can obscure the lights completely. | Photo by Rene E. Riley

While these new signals provide brighter lights that last much longer and save a lot of energy, it's also becoming evident that they have a hazardous downside. The bulbs burn so coolly that snow and ice don't melt off. Instead, they can just accumulate on the light, obscuring it completely. This problem has been blamed for dozens of accidents across the country and at least one death.

USRider suggests caution when driving during winter weather conditions. Although you may clearly see that you have a green light ? and therefore the right-of-way ? a driver coming from another direction might not see a light that's covered with ice and snow and could very likely not be prepared to stop.

Until a solution for this problem can be found, be extra cautious. Remember, if you can't see a traffic light at an intersection, treat it as a stop sign.

For additional safety tips, visit the USRider website, and go to the Equine Travel Safety Area.