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Energy Saving LED Stoplights Freeze Over

From Milwaukee’s NBC affiliate WTMJ:

Stoplights Freeze Over, Causing Accident

By Mick Trevey

December 10, 2009

WEST BEND, Wis – High efficiency traffic lights are being blamed for layer of ice and snow that completely covered stoplights across our area.

According to the West Bend Department of Public Works, ice built up over new high-efficiency LED fixtures installed in traffic lights. The LED traffic lights use substantially less electricity but do not give off enough heat to melt ice or snow.

That is a contrast to traditional traffic light bulbs that typically generated enough heat to melt ice and snow.

In West Bend, ice covered traffic lights were even blamed for an accident after a driver reported he could not see a red light that was obscured by snow. The victim of the accident, Barbara Wolf,  said her car was rammed by a driver at the intersection of Washington and Wildwood after the oncoming driver said he didn’t see a red light. “He didn’t see it.  And then after we realized the lights were covered with snow,” Wolf said.

Public Works employees spent part of Thursday afternoon scraping the ice and snow off the traffic signals. They improvised a tool made out of a pole and an automotive ice scraper. “It’s making a difficult time for drivers to see the lights,” said Jeff Watzlawick of the West Bend Department of Public Works.

Many cities have the LED traffic signal fixtures and experienced the same problems as West Bend. The Milwaukee Department of Public Works sent a memo to all employees asking them to be alert for iced-over traffic signals so that crews could be dispatched to clear them off.

Despite the extra work and hassle of scraping the lights off, West Bend’s Director of Public Works said the lights have been a success and have dramatically cut down on energy costs.

What was it the left used to complain about? “Blood for oil”?

Isn’t this finally an actual case of ‘blood for oil’?

At the very least it’s a prime example of how being ‘progressive’ too often means moving the country backwards.

But who cares how many people die and how many man hours are wasted — as long as we can “cut down on energy costs.”

(Thanks to BillK for the heads up.)

This article was posted by Steve on Friday, December 11th, 2009. Comments are currently closed.

16 Responses to “Energy Saving LED Stoplights Freeze Over”

  1. BillK says:

    Going “green” has its downsides.

    From Milwaukee’s WTMJ Television:

    Stoplights Freeze Over, Causing Accident

    By Mick Trevey

    WEST BEND, Wis – High efficiency traffic lights are being blamed for layer of ice and snow that completely covered stoplights across our area…


    Who cares if people die, as long as municipalities are “being green?”

    • Greg Robert says:

      Listen you flat-earth troglodytes, you’ve taken the chips from your shoulders and stuffed them in your eyes and ears. What an utter lack of logic and understanding you display. You’d have never gotten as far as living in caves, and if you were running things now you’d no doubt put up whale-oil burning street lights.

      No wonder things get SNAFU.

      – Greg

    • proreason says:


      Thanks for shining logic and objectivity on the discussions on our website.

      Clearly, you are a person with a deep understanding of Science and the world.

      By the way, what grade are you in?

  2. articfox says:

    How man gallons of fuel was consumed “dispatching crews”?

  3. proreason says:

    Flagmen at intersections wouldn’t freeze over at all.

    And anyway, intersections weren’t even necessary 150 years ago, back before capitalism ruined the environment.

  4. jobeth says:

    Ummm, let’s see now…

    Old style light… higher cost for the energy (THAT must be “fixed!)


    New Style light…(less) cost for energy
    +cost for fuel for transporting people to clean the ice off
    + hourly cost for other teams of men running around town
    looking for iced over lights. (plus fuel)
    + hourly cost for police to write up accidents (plus fuel)
    + hourly costs for the EMS teams to respond to accidents (plus fuel)

    Ahhh progress! Aren’t we so green?!

    At least we saved all that energy for those wasteful “old” style lights!

  5. JaneLovesJesus says:

    what Jobeth said

    + human suffering due to accidents (worse, yet, what if an animal was in the car?)
    + Lost productivity
    + lefties caught in their web of unintended consequences, AGAIN

    = P R I C E L E S S

    • jobeth says:

      I agree…especially about animals in the car…:-D

      But you have to love it when the lefties get caught up in their own web…ha!

      Just wish they would stop fouling up my life while they foul up their own nests.

  6. Rusty Shackleford says:

    Once again the law of unintended consequences. I’m pretty certain that some forward-thinker pointed this out as a definite possibility but was summarily squelched for being a “negative nelly”. They probably answered with, “Pshaw, have you EVER seen a stoplight freeze over? Of course not” and still didn’t make the connection as to why that is, exactly.

    I run into it all the time. These are the people who play with fire, text while driving and use the (plug-in) electric shaver while in the tub.

    There’s really no hope. No fix. No anything.

    • jobeth says:

      One of my pet peeves…People who can’t seem to see past the end of the end of their own nose.

      These are the same people who would speed head long toward a wall and try to put the breaks on the last two feet.

      I believe they used to call that critical thinking in school…oh yeah…I forgot that course was canceled, it went the way of cursive writing…Had to…they need that time to teach kids perverse sex ed.

  7. joeblough says:

    Well, we have to deal with the fact that these people — who are blatantly obviously committedly stupid — have seized control of our country.

    They’re telling us how to live, corrupting the children, and helping themselves to our money. And smiling right in our faces while they’re at it.

    Now, you tell me who’s stupid.

  8. scombrid says:

    I’m afraid this isn’t a case of environmentalism run amok. It isn’t anything run amok.

    The LED stoplights are brighter (not to be confused with those lights with the flat polarizing lenses that are unidirectional), require a lot less maintenance, and use 90% less power. This can save a medium sized city several hundred thousand dollars annually. The isn’t greeny, it is good sense.

    The LED lights obviously have a drawback under special meteorological conditions (hard driven snow when street signs and everything else get pasted). Why should a city want to burn old incandescent lights 365 days a year to melt snow during the handful of days during a given winter when driving snow is sticking to vertical surfaces? It is cheaper to pay the crews to clean them or have eventual replacements engineered with a heating element that can be switched on as needed.

    We aren’t exactly seeing a widespread rash of deaths from these lights.

    Maybe drivers should use common sense when the streets, street signs, and traffic signals are all white. Maybe cities need to develop a plan for events or have lights re-engineered. But this is hardly a case of environmentalism run amok like when some little puddle minow is saved at the expense of a town that needs the water.

    • BillK says:

      No, it’s unintended consequences.

      I wonder how much money will be “saved” when the high cost of LED lamps plus the undoubtedly three to four figure cost of heaters for the stop light fixtures is added in?

      I don’t buy the City of West Bend’s “savings” figures at all, I’m sorry. There’s no way the power to run traffic light bulbs cost a city “several hundred thousand dollars” annually unless that city is Los Angeles.

      You can do the math yourself – figure out what even 100 100 watt bulbs would cost to run 24×7.

    • proreason says:

      What’s the cost of the Hazmat Cleanup Team when a drunk runs into the stoplight and breaks a bulb?

    • U NO HOO says:

      “Maybe drivers should use common sense ”

      Like when they see a traffic signal but no color maybe they should have an “hmmmmm” moment.

      As forensic traffic accident reconstructionists hired by lawyers say, “keep a proper lookout.”

      100 watt bulb 24/7 is $87.36 per year at 10 cents per kilowatt-hour, but I would suppose the rate is much less than 10 cents for municipalities.

      Wouldn’t traffic lights be paid for by vehicle license fees and fuel taxes? Sounds logical.

      But, the real question is: Where did the municipalities spend the money they saved by going to LEDs? I doubt it went back to taxpayers.

      I look at LEDs as simply an efficient source of light.


      U NO HOO, BSEE

  9. scombrid says:

    I just watched the video over at WTMJ. It ends with a statement that “The City of West Bend is saving so much money that they still consider the lights a good purchase”. Why is this being spun as a greenie issue?

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