Technology and Changes in the Driving World: Traffic Sensors

Traffic sensors have been around the North Shore since the late 80’s early 90’s, but most people are not familiar with them unless they have taken lessons with a reputable driving school or a defensive driving course in North or West Vancouver. Traffic sensors were introduced as mass detectors. They detect the presence of cars, not their weight. People would get out of their cars and started jumping on the sensor area, to no avail. The traffic sensor is an electrical loop creating a magnetic field that detects the presence of a car. Motorcycles do not have a sufficient amount mass of steel to trip the sensor, so motorcyclists need to wave the next car forward onto the sensor.


The sensor can be noticed by a round circle that has been carved into the asphalt, older sensors can be diamond shaped or in a sideways figure of eight pattern. The sensor is placed at the stop line and sometimes before the stop line to detect the presence of two or more cars.


How Much Room Do I Leave Between My Car and an Intersection with a Traffic Sensor?

When the sensors came out and the rear center light was mandatory on new vehicles, the common safe driving practice was to stop one car length back from the stop line to prevent being pushed into the intersection when rear ended. This did not work well with the sensors as if you were one car length back the sensor saw nothing to change the light. More than once I’ve had to get out of my car and tell other motorists to move forward.


The main purpose of the sensors was to improve traffic flow and adjust to the traffic in real time. The main premise of this is as a vehicle passes in either direction over the sensor every 3 ½ to 4 seconds the light would hold green for up to one minute. This made predictions of the traffic light easier. Following distances have been adjusted to 2 to 4 seconds because of this.


The timing of the lights is usually set to the speed limit of the traffic (50 km/h), except in high pedestrian traffic areas, in that case 1.5 meter/second. Sections of Lonsdale Avenue, North Vancouver, BC and Broadway Avenue, Vancouver, BC are like that.


Buses are detected by a low resolution camera, thereby giving a transit priority light to the buses, as in east bound on Marine Dr. in West Vancouver, BC.


Contact North Shore Driving School Today!

Newer technology now allows sensor equipped intersections to communicate with one another to improve traffic flow. Now more than ever, the slow driver is not appreciated on the road. Going with the flow is better. Contact North Shore Driving School today for a GLP driving course in North Vancouver or call our Car Division on 1821 Lonsdale Avenue in for senior citizen driving refresher courses in the North Shore area.