Text me, traffic signal!

After driving in stop-and-go traffic for almost two hours last Friday afternoon, I finally discovered the culprit of my doubly long commute home from the suburbs.

It was a recipe for disaster. One part freezing rain, one part regular Friday afternoon traffic, and one big traffic malfunction. The traffic light at Hollywood and Lake Shore Drive was out of order, flashing red, becoming a four-way stop on an extremely complicated intersection. Traffic was backed up along Sheridan Road north from Lake Shore Drive all the way to the Baha’i Temple in Wilmette.

I was taking Sheridan Road because the radio reported that the traffic on the Edens Expressway was an hour and 20 minutes — when light traffic is a 19-minute trip. So I thought I’d skip the mess by taking Sheridan. Of course I could have checked the traffic on Sheridan on Google Maps on my phone, but as a good driver, I couldn’t use my phone and drive.

I have a new solution.

There’s gotta be a way that I can enter my regular routes to work into some kind of an app, and if a traffic light is out, I’ll get a text notification.

Basically what I’m saying is I’d like the malfunctioning traffic lights to text me.

“Sorry, Lia, but I’m not feeling well today. Don’t get stuck in the traffic I’m causing — maybe even stay home today altogether.”

“FYI, Lia, I can’t handle this constant rain … take the highway, not my way.”

If anyone knows of an app like this, let me know … until then, if I’m stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic because of a wimpy traffic signal, give me a call and entertain me.


3 thoughts on “Text me, traffic signal!

  1. Interesting idea. In my senior design class in college a lot of other people had similar ideas. Unfortunately, the difficulty isn’t in designing the software that notifies you when a traffic light is out – that’s relatively easy. The problem is that traffic signal data (or parking info, that was another popular idea) isn’t yet publicly available. Wait 5 years and I’m sure many apps that notify you when traffic lights are out will exist.

    • Google maps does have traffic data though, so there may be a way to have it tell you if a certain fraction of a route is super traffic-y. Lia, if you find anything let me know.

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