Blue Lights will Help Officers Catch Red Light Runners

December 6, 2019

 

by Len Lathrop

The New Hampshire Department of Transportation is adding blue lights to intersections at Lowell Road and Sagamore Bridge Exit 2 from Route 3.  This will help officers safely pursue and stop drivers who run traffic lights.  After repeated mentions of the problem during past selectmen’s meetings, Town Engineer Elvis Dhima brought the plan to the selectmen last Tuesday night.

A blue light on the back of a traffic pole glows when the light at the front turns red.  If officers see a driver running the light, they can give chase without running it themselves.

It’s a traffic enforcement conundrum.

For a lone police car to pursue a red-light runner, it would have to run the red light, too.  That creates dangers for other drivers and the officers.

Used since 2014 in mid-western states, the new blue light technology mounted on the back of traffic signals is allowing officers to observe, pursue and stop red-light runners without running the light themselves.  The department will see whether increased stoplight enforcement reduces accident rates.

In late 2013, the Blaine, Minn., Police Department learned about the blue light program at the quarterly meeting of Toward Zero Deaths, a statewide program aimed at minimizing traffic fatalities.

Officers position themselves “downstream” from the traffic signal.  The blue light indicates when the light has turned red.  When drivers run a red light, officers can make the traffic stop.  The blue lights also increase efficiency, because a single officer can work stoplight enforcement more safely.

Hudson’s new blue light program is a coordinated effort between the Hudson Police Department and the New Hampshire Department of Transportation.