The Only City That Synchronizes Traffic Lights

There are many frustrating aspects of driving, and getting stopped at red light after red light is one of them. For drivers in one of the most congested cities in the country, that wasn't supposed to be a problem. That’s because in 2013 Los Angeles implemented an automated traffic control system that synchronizes all of its nearly 4,400 traffic lights over 469 square miles, and it was the first major city in the world to do that. The system uses magnetic sensors in the road that measure the flow of traffic, hundreds of cameras, and a centralized computer system that makes constant adjustments to keep cars moving as smoothly as possible. The city spent $400 million on the project, but in 2020 Los Angeles still holds the No. 1 spot for most traffic-congested city in the U.S. So, why didn’t syncing the lights work? That's because once people realized that congestion had improved on a street, it encouraged them to take that street, thinking traffic flow was better. Unfortunately, it just increased the number of cars on the road, which meant more traffic, and syncing went out the window.