Earnest Pettie, comedy writer
When I lived in California, a technologically progressive state, I learned that you could check traffic conditions by logging onto the state’s website. Area maps were had overlays that informed you of the traffic on the street by displaying green in low traffic areas, yellow in medium areas, and red in difficult areas. I’ve noticed that many large cities now have similar programs. In fact, Yahoo Maps, in a bid to remain relevant in the face of the mighty Google Maps site, displays traffic conditions in many of those large cities. The time when you have least necessity of knowing that traffic information is when you’re sitting in front of a computer. You don’t need to know traffic information until you’re actually inside the car, but by then, it’s too late.
Why can’t municipalities take that information that is already available to them, and send it to signals on the road? Maybe two blocks before a major intersection, short light poles could be installed that would tell you the state of the traffic a mile away, giving you plenty of time to decide that you should probably turn onto a different road and try another route. The system wouldn’t need to be any different from the Red, Yellow, Green system we’ve all become familiar with.
Yes, there’s a certain joy that comes from sitting in a car, stuck in traffic, becoming bowled over by joy when Justin Timberlake’s “Senorita” comes on the radio, but isn’t that joy always dissipated by the realization, halfway through the song, that your McDonald’s fries are slowly creeping from golden delicious to rubbery gross? There are plenty of indicators for things you don’t need to know– the speed limit, for example– when are we going to get access to the information we need to know?