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Ask the Times: Cameras at major intersections aid the flow of traffic
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A traffic signal on Green Street at Ridgewood Avenue is equipped with traffic sensors that help to adjust the signal’s timing to changing traffic conditions at the intersection. - photo by Scott Rogers | The Times

If you’ve been wondering about something in your community, Ask The Times is your place to get answers. The following questions were submitted by readers and answered through the efforts of our news staff.

Why are there cameras at every major street intersection and all over the highways? What are they looking for and what happens with what’s recorded?
Teri Pope, spokeswoman for the Georgia Department of Transportation, said these “cameras” don’t actually take photos or record. Instead, they are sensors used to determine whether traffic is moving and are called video detection systems.

The devices are used instead of loop sensors the DOT used to put in asphalt.

“The cameras just note vehicles, and if there aren’t vehicles in the left turn lane, the left turn arrow won’t go green — it will be skipped that cycle,” she said. “If there aren’t any vehicles coming in one direction, then it will change that direction to red and let the other direction go.”

The technology is more dependable and not as high maintenance as the old loop sensors, which would get damaged during crashes and often broken during road resurfacing, Pope said.

Traffic engineers in Gainesville and Hall County said they also use the devices.

Hall County uses them at six intersections. Hall County Traffic Engineer Scott Puckett said the county also still uses some sensors embedded in the roadway but echoed Pope’s sentiments about the required maintenance.

“The cameras offer a viable alternative to reduce detection failure and maintenance and allow the signal to operate as programmed,” he said.

Gainesville Traffic Engineer Dee Taylor said Gainesville has video detection at 28 of the city’s 78 intersections.

Pope did not have numbers available for how many devices DOT has in Hall County.

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