Road Warrior: The key to triggering traffic lights

8:31 PM, Dec 5, 2013   |    comments
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In answer to a viewer concern regarding drivers not effectively triggering traffic lights, I spoke with Peter Brett, Chief Engineer for the City of Tampa Transportation Division about the ways Tampa handles intersection control.

According to Peter, induction loops are the roughly 30-foot metal loops embedded in the pavement in lanes approaching traffic lights.  Wheels on the loop trigger the light to change, but wheels that come to rest too early or pass over the loop without resting on it will not.  

Pulling up to the designated intersection stop bar is the best way to approach making sure that the loop reads the vehicle's presence.  Motorcycle and other two-wheeled vehicle drivers should make sure that their wheels touch the loop if there are no other vehicles waiting at the light in their direction.

Cameras are being used in many Tampa intersections now as well.  The cameras measure pixel changes in the same radius as the induction loops and are mounted at measured angles on top of mast arm supported signals.  They are also used to gather other sorts of traffic related information like incidence occurrence and other statistics.  They are not used as red light cameras.

A small number of Tampa intersections are still subject to signal timing - mostly in the downtown area where the blocks are short.  Peter says that Tampa is migrating to an Advanced Traffic Monitoring System which will gather data such as malfunctions from sensors so that the city can address any issues before drivers are impacted. 

To report a traffic sensor malfunction, you can either log on to and file a Citizens Action Request via this link or you can call (813) 274-8211.

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