A Better Understanding of Stoplights

The way a person becomes smart is to store in their brain only the information that they have to know, dismissing the rest. If it’s written down, I don’t need to know it. That’s what Albert Einstein would have you believe. But not Damjan Stanković. In an ideal Damjan Stanković world, you’d know how long you were at that stoplight because it would tell you what it’s up to. Tell me what you’re up to, stoplight!

Don’t hold back your secrets, you stoplight you! I would love to know how much time I have before I am able to race to the next copy of you. I want to know how much time I have so I can hurry up and stop again!

Truly.

Stanković promotes this stoplight as an eco solution in the following ways: If you’ve got the amount of time you’ve got to stop in front of you, you can shut your engine off, wait, be calm, and turn it back on again when the time is almost up. This not only lessens the amount of gas you use sitting still, but it lessens the amount of crazy madness you have wondering if the stoplight is stuck, or just really, really long.

Designer: Damjan Stanković

Eko stoplight by Damjan Stanković

eko02

eko03

eko04

219 Comments

  • baas says:

    perfect!

    • invah says:

      this is shit.
      how people with a bad vision could read this?
      sorry for my english

      • Clifton says:

        People with bad vision shouldn’t be on the road in the first place.

        • Blobo says:

          That’s a mighty brave thing to say for a guy who’s pic has him wearing glasses. 🙂

          Otherwise, the design is cool as hell, but probably more useful on the yellow/caution light. That way you could tell how much time was left in the cycle, and could judge whether to gun it or not.

          • Hani Darouich says:

            Nevertheless.. if he’s wearing glasses then he knows he has a sight problem, he corrected it – therefore he should be on the road. The concept is brilliant.

      • yoyoyo says:

        people with bad vision shouldn’t be driving.

      • tom says:

        hej…don’t U think, with bad vision do not drive! 🙂

      • Steve says:

        if they cant read this…they better get off the road

      • timmeh says:

        people with a bad vision shouldn’t be driving in the first place..

  • Mixel says:

    Love it, but would also be good to apply on the green light.

  • Jim says:

    Only problem with turning your engine off at lights is two fold:

    One: the emissions at starting the engine are worse than idling.

    Two: a huge traffic jam if you can’t get it started again for some reason.

    • Mark says:

      Jim’s right. Starting and stopping the engine uses more petrol.
      And you will get people running red lights easier too if they can see the countdown. The red, yellow, green needs to be very “black and white”, either on or off.

      • StalePhish says:

        Actually, modern fuel-injected cars don’t use much gasoline/petrol to turn on at all. Turning a car on uses about the same amount of fuel as idling for 6 seconds. So if your stop light is going to be red for more than 6 seconds, you’d benefit from turning the key.

        Source: http://www.slate.com/id/2192187/

        • ThankYouStalePhish says:

          Finally someone who can back up what they say with actual science, as opposed to mere conjecture, hearsay and urban legend. We don't use carburetors anymore. Many cars these days are actually built to turn off when idle: modern hybrid cars turn off when stopped as a fuel saving measure.

          Thanks StalePhish for the clarification.

        • ThankYouStalePhish says:

          Finally someone who can back up what they say with actual science, as opposed to mere conjecture, hearsay and urban legend. We don't use carburetors anymore. Many cars these days are actually built to turn off when idle: modern hybrid cars turn off when stopped as a fuel saving measure.

          Thanks StalePhish for the clarification.

    • Prabhu says:

      Research says that, its better to turn off the engine if the stop signal is there for more than 30 secs.

      Every step has its step backs, you should weight it with its positives

    • Andrew says:

      My BMW turns off automatically at stop lights.

      If the light takes longer than 2 seconds then there is a net fuel saving from turning it off.

      Auto restarts again as soon as I press the clutch.

  • mdgreaney says:

    This would just encourage drivers who race away at the amber light to jump away even sooner. If you put it on the green light you’d encourage drivers to step on the gas if their time was nearly up.

    Definitely a case of too much information.

  • The Marshalite is a neat historical (1936) analog-stopsignal that also lets you compare the length of the cycles. So you can learn if a light is red much more often than it is green, and perhaps avoid it.

  • Interesting ! I would go for it !

  • Prabhu says:

    Is it a big thing, we already have it in ind.

  • confucius says:

    True: This would cause more people to race, if anyone’s had a stint at drag racing, the count down lights get you exhilarated. Albeit a fantastic idea, and one that would ease ALOT of frustration in 99% of drivers.

  • AL says:

    the legend that starting and stopping engine consumes more petrol is always there, who said that?! that’s not true

    the idea is reeeeally good indeed! congrats

  • ixiqi says:

    In China, trffic light can count down in numers, like 60 seconds, 59, 58…5, 4, 3, 2, 1.
    Maybe, this much more understanding way is better than Damjan’s Eko stoplight ^ ^

    • mif991 says:

      In some parts of China lights and traffic laws are not respected at all. But I have seen the seconds stop light and I like that over this design. It is quite practical. As for the Chinese driving habits, well that is another story.

  • Victor Assis says:

    In the major cities in Brazil there are traffic lights with countdown clocks on the side. It’s very useful, and it has not at all, nor for better nor for worse, affected the driving habits.

    This design by Damjan looks nice and smart, but fails to follow the traffic light premise: be as simple and understandable as possible. The countdown clock is much simpler.

    • Clifton says:

      Numbers are simpler than a diminishing circle of lights? I’d have to disagree.

      Even if it’s a small difference, our brains have to spend a tiny bit of time translating numerals to figure out how much time we have left on the timer. And those numerals only update once a second, whereas these lights would disappear in a more fluid motion.

  • noel says:

    It would be nice to see this or four phase traffic signals adopted in the USA. I’m partial to four phase (http://schutt.org/blog/2009/08/a-better-stoplight/), but either should improve the flow of traffic.

  • Ian says:

    I bet some drivers will jump the lights when they approach and see its about to turn green. ‘No point slowing down and hanging around here; it’s about to change so lets just keep going…..’

    • mif991 says:

      Ian, you are right. But combine this system to the cameras that are now recording traffic violations, and you will see they will “learn” quickly.

    • Good point. The solution would be to make the loading bars super tiny so that you could only see if you were stopped and squinting real hard. =]

  • Adam says:

    Perfect for stop light drag races too.

  • Clifton says:

    I was sent this link from a friend after giving a presentation on how I’d redesign vehicle signals. I like the idea of the countdown around the traffic light, but I was thinking about implementing it on the green and perhaps yellow light, not so much the red. Pedestrians often have a countdown showing how long they have to cross the street, and I think it would be beneficial to let drivers know how much time they have before they get a yellow or red light.

    Thanks for posting this. It’s good to know there are others out there rethinking traffic communication.

    For what it’s worth, here’s my five-minute presentation on car signals: http://blip.tv/file/2882069

    And a more detailed explanation of how I’d like to see car signals in a perfect world: http://offchild.com/ignite/

  • Jamey says:

    Please not another thing that spins to inform me that I must wait. There are some things in this world that simply doesn’t need a spinning wait icon. Apple spins a stupid beach ball, Windows spins a even less imaginative circle, every flash created web site counts up for me and the world is following suit. No, not this too.

  • Mathias says:

    My problem with a stop light like this, or with the pedestrian signals that count down how much longer a light is in “WALK” (which drivers use as a countdown to the next red) is that drivers begin to rely only on the countdown, not on the traffic situation.

    A green light does NOT mean “go”. It means “go if the situation allows it”. The time to the next green or red light is not an issue. It should be omitted.

    • Clifton says:

      I think the same argument could be used for our current green lights, or any automated message telling drivers to continue driving. Without a human at every intersection, drivers will always need to understand that it’s their responsibility to decide when it’s safe to go.

    • PTOE says:

      Actually, ped countdown timers count down the amount of time left in a flashing Don't Walk. There is no timer in the steady Walk signal.

    • PTOE says:

      Actually, ped countdown timers count down the amount of time left in a flashing Don't Walk. There is no timer in the steady Walk signal.

  • Ahmet Bektes says:

    wonderful! maybe the best…

  • freak says:

    I was in Bulgaria in 2006, they have digital counters next to red and green lights alike… I really liked that idea, wished we had something similar. They’ve been doing this for years, so this is nothing new 🙂

  • DUDE says:

    Лебедев пошел топиться от зависти.

  • jdi says:

    OK, lest make everything more complicated. You just have to wait until the green light turns on!

  • Nick says:

    Very interesting concept, though I am not sure that it would help. People just suck at driving and are very impatient these days. How much would it cost to replace every traffic light in America? Neat idea though.

    • Clifton says:

      Traffic signals are routinely checked and upgraded as materials wear out and technology is improved. Since all traffic signals in America are computer-controlled as it is, adding this element wouldn’t take much more than a change in software to implement this idea, and that software really only needs to be written once. The true cost would be the construction of the ring of lights.

      Sooner or later, every light in your city will be replaced with new bulbs, LEDs or casings. While we’ve got the ladders and workers up there, attaching this addition can’t be a huge deal.

      • Pete7874 says:

        And because they're computer and sensor controlled, it means the duration of green/red is variable at many intersections. If there is more cars approaching the intersection, the green will stay on longer to let them through. But since this varies very dynamically, how can you know how much more of green (or red) is still left so how can you properly do the countdown?

        Also, what happens when an ambulance or a fire truck drives by and over-rides the signal behavior?

      • Pete7874 says:

        And because they're computer and sensor controlled, it means the duration of green/red is variable at many intersections. If there is more cars approaching the intersection, the green will stay on longer to let them through. But since this varies very dynamically, how can you know how much more of green (or red) is still left so how can you properly do the countdown?

        Also, what happens when an ambulance or a fire truck drives by and over-rides the signal behavior?

  • Andrew says:

    Problem I see with letting people know that it’s ok to turn off their engines is if an emergency vehicle approaches and the light has to quickly adjust for them.

    • Clifton says:

      This is an issue. In Japan, drivers are supposedly required to turn off their engines if they idle for a certain length of time at stops. But most cars in Japan are much newer than the average car in America, because registration fees in Japan jump pretty high when a car hits just a few years old. So starting a car back up again isn’t much of an issue there. Also, they don’t seem to go out of their way for emergency vehicles like we do in America.

  • Brilliant design!

  • tigergtr says:

    cool design

  • Aky says:

    Where’s the news? A more advanced version of this (with digits) is in use in Constanta, Romania, for several years now.

  • POtru says:

    this Idea Rules!

  • eh says:

    Interesting idea but DO NOT WASTE MY TAX DOLLARS ON THIS!!!

  • miguel librero says:

    i love the concept! but what happens when you read this stop light from 400 feet away and you keep cruising through the intersection at 40mph, while perpendicular traffic is speeding up to 40mph to not miss the light? dont get me wrong, i love the design and the concept, but we also have to try to predict and prevent adverse effects this would have…kind of like the legalization of marajuana..this is just a thought

    • Clifton says:

      This is the main problem I have with applying the countdown to the red light. When I was a kid, at least in the small town I lived in, all the lights at an intersection changed simultaneously. So when your light turned red, crossing traffic would immediately get a green light. I haven’t seen an intersection work that way in years; now all the lights have a pause of at least a couple seconds, to prevent issues like this. I’d like to see how a countdown works on the green light, but giving stopped drivers a countdown seems a tad risky.

  • stephen russell says:

    Id show the Minutes in the Center or side or above/below light module.
    Do same for X street lights in LA CA USA.
    Be Nice to see how Long for Red, Yellow & Green lights.
    Cool.
    Worldwide use alone.

  • rorro says:

    just need to see the opposite light, wich changes to yellow first making the “safe time” so any car who had started passing trhoug and got stuck in the middle has a little more time, thats why everybody starts moving forwards even though it s in red.

    A counter is only worth for pedestrians.

  • ER says:

    In Malaysia, we have it in number counting down for red and green. Huge enough to be seen miles away. This is too lame. Btw, we have it years ago…

    • Clifton says:

      You’re right. Once Malaysia does something, nobody else should be allowed to come up with similar ideas. Especially if it’s been done for so many years.

  • Clifton says:

    Wow, you post a simple idea and everyone feels the need to rip you apart.

    This concept is one person’s idea to improve on an existing design, focusing on the environmental impact of millions of idling engines.

    Wanna be a douchebag about it? Fine. We can stop using the internet as a forum for ideas and just watch Family Guy on Hulu. It’s funny because the dog talks, and nobody thinks that’s strange! Hilarious!

  • Poita says:

    Here in Korea many pedestrian lights havea 20 countdown and/or a verticle bar countdown. It helps me to know if i can make it or if I have to walk/run faster to make it or just relax in knowing i won’t make it.

    In the case of causing drag racing, they should have it dissapear for the last ten seconds for traffic.

    @Clifton: In theory you are right as the brain spends a little bit of extra energy to translate numbers than it does for symbols but in practice not so. A simple number countdown is so ingrained in the mind that there is very little conscious function going on and it becomes as effortless as symbol interpretation.

  • Morgan says:

    I love the creativity of this! Its just un canny!

  • SleepY says:

    this is one of the best ideas i’ve seen since years.

  • kim says:

    if they had this, people would probably not slow down if they see that the stop light is goign to turn green soon. not a good idea.

  • Benji says:

    Actually the old Melbourne traffic signals (circa 1936) were more like this concept.

    http://gadgets.boingboing.net/2008/06/02/charles-marshalls-co.html

  • Divico says:

    This design is, in my opinion, quite nice and worth to replace all existing similar systems. But it’s not usable for lights with variable times, according to the traffic charges. For these systems, the best information is given by the short red-yellow before green, as it is used in Western Europe (Scandinavia, CH) for more than 10 years.

  • This idea is very good, if it's have some digital timer way to display how much time we have to wait in second while red light as well how much time remains to shut off green light should be more useful

  • This idea is very good, if it’s have some digital timer way to display how much time we have to wait in second while red light as well how much time remains to shut off green light should be more useful

  • In Havanna (and I thought cuba was not developed…) there are big displays showing the remaining time. Not just untill the green signal comes, also how much seconds are left to cross untill it turns red.

  • Sam says:

    I have seen this in use in real life! But a digita countdown in seconds. No idea what country it was though!!!

  • Sam says:

    I have seen this in use in real life! But a digita countdown in seconds. No idea what country it was though!!!

  • Joshua's Law says:

    Its nice very interesting.! How many seconds did this round changes completely to red. Its better along with digital timer below.

  • Joshua's Law says:

    Its nice very interesting.! How many seconds did this round changes completely to red. Its better along with digital timer below.

  • creative idea must be appreciated!

Comments are closed.