LED lights are lovely; not only do they use less energy, they’re also brighter and can last longer than conventional bulbs. But because they don’t emit much heat, LED traffic lights have caused some vehicular mishaps during the winter, as snow accumulates in front of the lights and shields them from view.
“We certainly do see crashes and accidents attributed to the fact that people can’t see the heads,” said Joanna Bush, a traffic signal systems engineer for the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, referring to traffic signals’ colored lenses. “Due to the volume of snow we’ve been getting — good, wet heavy snow — it packs in.”
Transportation officials have been dispatching workers with brooms to clear the lenses, Bush said. They are also experimenting with a solution that is less labor-intensive and more permanent, outfitting some of the lenses with sloping snow shields to make it harder for snow to stick.
It probably uses up quite a lot of energy to send out people to clear the lights. We’d certainly like to see them come up with an efficient and lasting solution to this problem.