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New study uses GM data to reduce traffic light wait times in Birmingham

Posted at 6:26 AM, Mar 07, 2024

There is nothing worse than being in a hurry and getting stuck at a red light. For drivers in Birmingham, it's less of an issue.

That's because of a new study that aimed to slash wait times at a red light.

The study was able to take data from General Motors cars to help time out those traffic lights, reducing the number of stops in Birmingham by 20%-30%.

“How busy does Maple get on a Friday or Saturday?” I asked Richard Snee.

“Yeah it can get pretty busy right here in town," he said. "I try to avoid it."

Craig Bryson, the senior communications manager for the Road Commission of Oakland County.

He said in the past, people working for the road commission would have to count out cars to determine the timing of traffic stops. That's until a recent study and partnership with the University of Michigan and GM.

“GM which is about which is about 10% of the cars on the road, that gives us enough data to extrapolate you know what the full traffic volume on the roads is doing, and we can make much better decisions with that data," he said.

It's the world's first large-scale, cloud-based traffic signal re-timing system.

The results of the 18-month study had benefits for drivers, and for the environment. There were fewer cars idling.

It also means less people waiting to cross the street, too

Shelly Culbertson, who works at the West Elm, said she's happy to see the traffic flow benefit both drivers and shoppers.

"Hopefully they can work something out and make it beneficial for traffic as well as people shopping," she said.

“Coming down here right now we are going to get ears pieced, but to be able to utilize all the local business and stuff by just making sure everyone is safe and traffic is smooth," Megan Sexton, a shopper said.

The plan is to now expand the project in other communities.