CHULA VISTA - Imagine a better, safer stop light signal system.
That was the idea Michelle Dewez had while attending Marshall Middle School in Scripps Ranch. She entered her project called the “Traffic Light Safety and Improvement” in the 2006 California State Science Fair.
Her dad, John Dewez, presented her findings to a group of civic leaders in Chula Vista last week. He then showed 10News how she tested reaction times for when the light turns yellow, then red -- using a portable stair stepper.
“By pushing on the right pedal of this exercise machine, you are simulating the gas. As soon as it says go you have to push on the brake and it takes time, just like a car," said Dewez.
It was a comparison test, utilizing a standard signal light versus one with a green that starts blinking four seconds before it switches to yellow.
“We tested a bunch of people in our neighborhood to see how they would react," said Dewez. "We had an actual traffic or a light that has a blinking green.”
The blink, Dewez said, commands your attention.
“It wasn't blinking all the time, just the last four seconds," he said. "It would turn to yellow and people would anticipate it and they stopped before it got to that point.”
Thirty people were tested; five times with each light. It wasn't foolproof but it showed far fewer red light violations when the green blinks.
The blinking green light wouldn't happen overnight. Chula Vista would have to get approval from both the state and federal authorities to run a pilot project and and if it went well, there would have to be driver education as well. A plan to implement the lights could take years.