US 3544959 A
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Description (OCR text may contain errors)
TRAFFIC FACING; DEVICE Filed Dec. 18, 1967 338 3,2 20 INVENTOR,
34- fi/OMAS RJ/nwxs Flex; fill-w W United States Patent O 3,544,959 TRAFFIC PACING DEVICE Thomas R. Hawks, 801 E. 37th St., Long Beach, Calif. 90807 Filed Dec. 18, 1967, Ser. No. 691,438 Int. Cl. G08g 1 96 US. Cl. 340-43 8 Claims ABSTRACT OF THE DISCLOSURE A series of illuminable signals spread at fixed distances along a highway or freeway that periodically flash to indicate to drivers the optimum speed at which they should be traveling in order to minimize stop-and-start driving, which time periods between flashes are varied from time to time which change in traflic density.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION Field of the invention A device for regulating the rate of traffic flow along a highway to minimize stop-and-start driving.
Description of the prior are Although various types of traific lights and signals have been evolved and used in the past, no means has been provided prior to the present invention that signals to a driver the optimum speed at which he should be traveling to minimize the necessity of stop-and-start driving, particularly on freeways.
The present invention overcomes the deficiency of pre- "viously available signaling devices by providing spaced flashes of light that serve to pace the flow of traffic, and minimize stop-and-start driving.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION A number of illuminable signals are longitudinally positioned at equal distances along a highway or freeway, and intermittently energized at predetermined time intervals. Each of the time intervals is of such duration that if a driver regulates the speed of his vehicle to that at which the vehicle travels the same distance between two of the signals, between two of the flashes, the flow of traffic will be such that stop-and-start driving is minimized. The time intervals between flashes does not remain fixed, but is varied, with the variations being dependent upon such conditions as traffic density and other factors which interfere with the smooth flow of traflic.
A major object of the present invention is to provide an apparatus of simple structure that is readily adaptable for installation on either new or existing freeways and heavily traveled highways, and when in operation, serves to pace the flow of trafllc to a rate that results in a mini mum of stop-and-start driving.
Another object of the invention is to furnish a traffic pacing apparatus that is most flexible in operation, and may be easily adjusted to control either light or heavy traffic.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWING FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a first form of the device installed on a divided highway or freeway;
FIG. 2 is a transverse cross-sectional view of one of the pacing signal devices, taken on the line 22 of FIG. 1;
FIG. 3 is a perspective view of a second form of the device in which the pacing signals are installed in the roadbed;
FIG. 4 is a perspective view of a third form of the device installed in the divider of a highway or freeway;
FIG. 5 is a top plan view of one of the pacing signals shown in FIG. 4; and
3,544,959, Patented Dec. 1, 1970 fi CC FIG. 6 is a diagrammatic view of the electrical system used with the first, second and third forms of the device.
DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT Referring to FIGS. 1 and 2 for the general arrangement of the first form A of the invention that is installed on a highway on which a central, longitudinally extending divider B and a number of lanes C and D on opposite sides thereof are provided over which traffic moves in opposing directions.
A number of uprights 10 are positioned on divider B equidistant from one another. Each upright 10 supports a rectangular housing E formed from a rigid opaque material that has a central partition 12 therein, and parallel to divider B.
Two light windows 14 and 16 are formed in housing E, that receive sheets of transparent or translucent material 14a and 16a respectively. The housing E, divider 12, and sheets 14a and 16a, cooperatively define two enclosed compartments 18 and 18 in which incandescent bulbs 20 and 20 respectively, are positioned.
Due to the arrangement of the windows 14 and 16 in housing E, when bulbs 20 are illuminated they are only visible to the drivers of vehicles (not shown) moving to the left on lanes C, as shown in FIG. 1. Likewise, when bulbs 20' are illuminated, they are only visible to those drivers moving to the right on lanes D.
The sequence of bulbs 20 and 20 are each intermittently illuminated to provide timed flashes of light to pace the traffic by the system of electrically actuated components shown in FIG. 6. Inasmuch as the electrical system used in energizing the group of bulbs 20, is the same as used with bulbs 20', the system used with the bulbs 20 only, is shown.
In FIG. 6, it will be seen that a variable speed, geareddown, electric motor 22 by means of a shaft 24, rotates an electrical conducting blade 26 which periodically sweeps over an electrical contact 28. Blade 26 is connected by a conductor 29 to a source of electrical power F. A conductor 30 extends from contact 28 and develops into a number of laterals 32 that are connected to bulbs 30. As will be apparent from FIG. 6, the bulbs 20 are connected in parallel. Laterals 32 are connected to a conductor 34 that extends to the source of electric power F. Motor 22 is supplied with electric power through two conductors 36 and 38 leading therefrom to junction points 36a and 38a in conductors 29 and 34.
A conventional sensor G is provided, such as a computer or the like, that is responsive to the number of vehicles on the lanes C or -D passing the same. By elec trical signals sent through two conductors 40 and 42, the sensor G controls the rate of rotation of blade 26. Sensor G is located downstream relative to the flow of vehicle trafiic.
Thus, as soon as vehicles (not shown) adjacent the sensor G start to slow down, indicating a congestion of traffic, the sensor immediately sends an electrical signal to motor 22 to slow down the rotation thereof. The slowing down of rotation of motor 22 and blade 26 will obviously increase the duration of time between flashes of light by the bulbs 20. IWhen the speed of traffic adjacent the sensor G increases, traflic congestion is decreasing, the sensor responds by increasing the rate of rotation of motor 22.
For the above described device to serve its intended function, motorists must be educated as to the manner in which it operates. Each motorist must realize that for traflic to move with a minimum of stops and starts, he must regulate the speed of his vehicle in such a manner that it travels the distance between two adjacent bulbs 20 in the time interval between two flashes by the bulbs.
It will, of course, be evident that only a small percentage of vehicles (not shown) will be in transverse alignment with the bulbs 20 when they flash. However, this is in no sense detrimental to the use of the device, for each motorist can estimate with reasonable accuracy his position between two adjacent bulbs 20, and regulate the speed of his vehicle to occupy the same position between the next two bulbs 20 by the time the next flash signal occurs. The intermittent flashing of the bulbs 20 provides an easy and convenient means for pacing the movement of a flowing stream of traflic.
It will be particularly noted in FIGS. 1 and 2 that due to the structure of the housing E, the flashing of bulbs 20 is only visible to motorists in lanes C, and the flashing of bulbs 20' to motorists in lanes D. The length of a section of highway or freeway controlled by a system of components (in FIG. 6) will vary, depending on how rapidly trafiic accelerates and decelerates thereon. A highway of substantial length will have a number of the systems of electrical components shown in FIG. 6 disposed in end-to-end relationship.
Should it be desired, the housing E may be of substantial height and subdivided internally into the sequence of vertically spaced compartments 18 and 18', each of which compartments has a sheet of different colored, transparent or translucent material 14a or 16a associated therewith. The bulbs 20 and 20' in the compartments 18 and 18' 'will be electrically energized by a separate electrical system as shown in FIG. 6.
For instance, the housing E may be divided into three vertically spaced compartments, 18 and another set of three vertically spaced compartments 18' adjacent thereto with the bulbs 20 and 20' therein causing different colored flashes of light to be given off as the bulb 20 may emit a blue flash upon energization, the middle bulb a bluegreen flash, and the lower bulb a yellow-green flash. Each colored flash is a signal for a drive in a particular lane, such as the blue flash being for a driver in an inner lane, two blue-green flashes for a driver in a middle lane, and two yellow-green flashes for a driver in an outer lane.
The flashing of the different colored lights need not be in synchronism, but instead may be out of phase, with the timing between the phases being dependent upon the traflic conditions in the various lanes controlled thereby.
The second form of the invention as shown in FIG. 2, is the same as the above described first form, other than that a number of bulbs 20 and 20' are used at each station. Bulbs 20 and 20 at each station are transversely spaced in the manner shown in FIG. 3, and disposed within a dust-and-dirt-tight container 44 provided with a heavy transparent or translucent cover 46, of glass or plastic extending thereover.
When it is desired to pace traffic in lanes C and D so that it moves at the same rate, the third form of the invention shown in FIGS. 4 and may be used. In this third form of the device, only the single circuit shown in FIG. 6 is employed. The bulbs are held within receptacles 48 that are closed on the upper end of the inverted semispherical, transparent or translucent cover 50. A shield of opaque material 52 is mounted on cover 46, and is of such configuration as to provide two light windows 54 and 56. Light windows 54 are so positioned that flashes of light are directed to traffic moving in lane C, and light windows 56 serve the same function for traffic traveling in lanes D. The receptacles 48 are preferably disposed in cavities formed in the divider B as shown in FIG. 4.
1. A device for pacing the flow of driver directed vehicles on a highway to minimize stop and go driving, including:
(a) a plurality of illuminable, electrically operated bulbs spaced at fixed equal distances along said highy;
(b) a geared-down variable speed electric motor;
(c) an electrical conducting blade that is rotated by said motor;
(d) a contact that is engaged by said blade as said blade rotates;
(e) an electrical circuit that supplies electricity to said motor and blade, and connects said bulbs to one another in parallel, with said bulbs flashing as said blade rotates over said contact; and
(f) a sensor disposed at a downstream position relative to the flow of said vehicles on said highway, with'said sensor controlling the rate at which said motor rotates said blade, and said bulbs as said blade rotates intermittently flashing at predetermined time intervals to pace the rate at which said vehicles must be driven on said highway to minimize stop-and-go driving thereof.
2. A device as defined in claim 1 wherein said sensor causes said motor to rotate said blade at a slower rate as the velocity of said vehicles adjacent said sensor decreases.
3. A device as defined in claim 1 wherein said sensor causes said motor to rotate said blade at a more rapid rate when the velocity of said vehicles adjacent said sensor increases. 7
4. A device as defined in claim 1 which further includes:
(g) a plurality of uprights disposed at equal distances along said highway with each of said uprights supporting one of said bulbs on the upper portion thereof; and
(h) a plurality of opaque housings mounted on said uprights and enclosing said bulbs, with each of said housings having a light window formed therein to permit said flashes to be observed by drivers of said vehicles when said vehicles are driven in a particular direction on said highway.
5. A device as defined in claim 4 wherein said highway includes a longitudinally extending divider and said uprights are mounted on said divider.
6. A device as defined in claim 1 which further includes:
(g) a plurality of receptacles embedded at equally spaced longitudinal distances in the upper portion of the material defining said highway, with each of said receptacles containing one of said bulbs; and
(h) a plurality of light-transmitting covers mounted in said receptacles to permit said drivers to observe said flashes.
7. A device as defined in claim 1 wherein said covers are of inverted semi-spherical shape.
8. A device as defined in claim 7 which further includes:
(i) a plurality of opaque light shields mounted on said covers, which shields are so shaped as to provide light windows through which said drivers can observe said flashes when driving said vehicles in a particular direction on said highway.
THOMAS B. HABECKER, Primary Examiner US. Cl. X.R.