The Lake County Division of Transportation (LCDOT) is aiming to solve a problem that has plagued drivers for the past few years, blowing heavy snow covering red lights. To combat this issue, LCDOT is installing “snow-proof visors” on red lights at all 176 Lake County-owned traffic signals. The visors which consist of a clear cone and a modified visor attachment were developed by Snow Proof Signals LLC.
The cones form a complete circle around the light and extend out by about 1 foot to keep snow from blocking visibility of the entire light. The visors were paid for using Highway Safety Improvement Program grant funding from the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT).
LED bulbs are used on almost all traffic signals throughout Illinois. While these bulbs cut energy costs and last longer, they also generate lower heat and have trouble melting snow and ice. This has led to snow-covered traffic signals during winter storms that produce high winds and heavy, wet snow.
LCDOT, IDOT, and agencies from throughout the country have been working together to find and test products to address this issue. Chicago area agencies piloted the visors on traffic signals last year, and results after a storm in late February were positive.
LCDOT is installing the visors only on County-owned red signals this year. If the visors are effective countywide, LCDOT may consider installing them on green and yellow lights as well.
“Snow-covered traffic signals block the visibility of the important red light indication telling motorists when to stop, which has led to some crashes,” said Jon Nelson, Engineer of Traffic. “Due to this major safety issue, installing snow-proof visors on all red lights has been a top priority this year.”
“We will be analyzing how effective the visors are at all our signals, and will make adjustments as needed to make our transportation system as safe as possible during winter storms. People should remember that when traffic signals are not visible, either covered by snow, or completely out due to a power outage, the law requires motorists to treat this as an all-way stop sign,” said Nelson.
Use Lake County PASSAGE This Winter!
LCDOT has built several tools in-house through Lake County PASSAGE for you to get real-time, local traffic information throughout the winter season.
In addition to seeing traffic incidents and road closures live on a map, you have access to the PASSAGE cameras which means you can look at real-time snapshots from major intersections. Turn on camera images in “Layer Options” at the top right, find intersections along your route, and check road conditions in each direction.
Access PASSAGE by downloading the Lake County PASSAGE app, or by visiting lakecountypassage.com.