Defect of the Day: Traffic Lights, Induction Loops and Snow

Today the Portland area was blessed with a fairly decent coating of snow and under that a thin base of ice. With all things coated in white, clean and pretty looking, a defect loomed…

This morning I braved the weather and set out to the streets armed with a 2007 Ford Fusion (front wheel drive with traction control), ice and snow driving skills (which a large amount of Portland motorists don’t have), and defensive driving skills taken to the next level (from riding a street motorcycle).

Danger after danger I went around, turned around from & back-tracked, and chuckled at due to the foolishness. My snow-driven cheery mood could not be swayed by danger and foolishness! Two blocks from work I pulled up to the last light that I would encounter on my harrowing journey. With the destination in sight, my mind was at ease and I patiently waited for that green go light. and waited. and waited. AND WAITED.

About 2 minutes into it the lady in the turn lane next to me had enough and started to renegotiate her car’s position trying to trip the traffic light’s magnetic induction loop inside the road. Watching her, I started to second guess my position since everything was buried in snow. Looked good to me, it all lined up in my mind. Even if we didn’t trip the magnetic induction loop, the signal would default to a standard set amount of time per light/direction right? Right!? Wrong. We were screwed. No green for us. Denied by ODOT. Denied by a defect. I can’t believe this is the case everywhere, but it sure was at this stoplight.

Three minutes later I looked both ways and went for it. Unscathed I am. Don’t try this at home. 🙂

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