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Installing LED traffic lights may have sounded like a good idea when first proposed -- after all, LEDs consume 90 percent less energy than the incandescent bulbs being replaced -- but some city planners who made the switch are now wishing they could take a mulligan. Why? Apparently the bulbs just don't burn hot enough to melt snow and can become covered in a storm.
"I've never had to put up with this in the past," said Duane Kassens, a driver from West Bend who got into an accident because he couldn't see the lights. "The police officer told me the new lights weren't melting the snow. How is that safe?"
The simple answer is, it's not safe. More than just a paper problem, snow-covered traffic lights have already been blamed for dozens of accidents and at least one death. During a storm in April, 34-year-old Lisa Richter saw she had a green light and made a left turn. But a driver coming from the opposite direction didn't realize the stoplight was obscured by snow and ended up ramming into Richter's vehicle, fatally injuring her.
Several states are testing out possible solutions, including weather shields, adding heating elements, and coating lights with water-repellent substances.
Image Credit: Flickr L. Marie