Picture this: You’re driving during a power outage when you encounter a traffic signal that isn’t working. Suddenly, a four-way intersection becomes a dangerous game of chicken. While a traffic officer may be able to maintain order, things won’t be “safe” until those lights come back on. If only your community had invested in backup power solutions.
Traffic signals keep our roads running efficiently and, most importantly, safely. To ensure they never fail during a power outage, communities should wire their electrical traffic infrastructure to backup power sources like batteries, solar panels, or generators.
Let’s unpack the benefits of keeping traffic signals and other lights powered 24/7. We’ll also look at some of the best backup power solutions available today.
The Risks and Dangers of Unpowered Traffic Equipment
We’ve all watched people zoom through a dark intersection, treating “no light” as a “24/7 green light.” One 2009 study found that 77% of dark-signal accidents were right-angle collisions, also known as t-bone collisions. There were also twice as many injuries reported at those dark-signal intersections than at other intersections.
It’s easy to see how quickly order and communication on the roads fail during a power outage. Not only do broken traffic lights impact the flow of vehicles, but they can also affect pedestrian traffic. Trying to cross the street at a busy intersection with malfunctioning traffic lights or walk signals poses serious safety risks.
Failed street lights are another danger. Removed visibility on street and sidewalks makes it harder for pedestrians and motorists alike to see where they’re going and what’s around them, upping the chance of an accident.
Railroad crossings can be equally as dangerous. Thankfully, in the event of an outage, most crossings are equipped with fail-safes that operate as if a train is always coming. They’re also hooked up to backup power solutions, such as batteries and solar power.
The Benefits of Keeping Traffic Equipment Powered 24/7
If the power goes out, backup power solutions ensure that road and traffic signals continue working as expected.
Suppose a powerful storm knocks out power across several communities. With a backup power system in place, cities can focus on helping those in need instead of directing traffic.
Traffic equipment is connected to a town’s electrical grid. Backup power only kicks in when the primary energy source stops functioning. This is especially important in case of an emergency.
What’s more, a 24/7 power solution will be vital as climate change increases the chances of natural disasters. If a community needs to evacuate during a wildfire or hurricane, traffic signal and street lights along the route must work, full stop. Otherwise, a loss of power could become a life-or-death situation.
The Best Backup Power Solutions for Traffic Equipment
Power outages have become more frequent and longer-lasting in recent years. The average outage duration in the U.S. grew from 3.5 hours in 2013 to seven hours by 2021. Frequency also increased, from 1.2 annual outage events to 1.42.
While frequency isn’t a drastic jump, the increased duration is of high concern. That’s potentially seven hours of inoperable traffic signals, street lights, and walking signs that put your community at risk.
Thankfully, there are several backup power solutions available to keep traffic signals running. Batteries, solar power, and backup generators will all accomplish the same goal. The important part is knowing which is best for your needs.
Battery Backup Power
Battery backups are among the most common solutions for sustained power. They offer a seamless power transition when they detect an outage.
Under normal circumstances, the battery power should only take a few minutes to kick in. This results in less traffic build-up and a shorter outage duration. Ultimately, it makes the roads safer during a widespread outage.
What’s more, the batteries should run long enough for crews to arrive and solve the problem. Traffic signals leveraging LED technology will last longer than traditional lights because LEDs require less power to operate.
More people are turning to solar than ever. While many use it to power their homes, communities can also leverage solar panels to keep their roads safe during outages.
Consider areas that are prone to natural disasters, such as Florida and Kansas. When hurricanes and tornadoes knock out the power, solar panel–powered traffic lights and signals help authorities maintain order.
Whether they’re powering traffic lights or street lamps, solar backup power solutions can also lessen a community’s electrical load. Panels absorb energy throughout the day and store it for later use. So, you’re not paying extra to keep the lights on.
Solar systems contain four critical parts: a panel, a battery, a controller, and a light source. They operate independently from the grid and each other. If the power goes out, the lights stay on; if one stops working, it doesn’t impact the others.
Communities can also lean on permanent or portable backup generators to maintain power during an outage. They can rig traffic signals with access ports to receive portable power or simply outfit them with backup generators that kick in automatically.
Proper maintenance is critical when using backup generators. Authorities should perform regular checks to ensure the generators stay in working order. They must also have enough fuel—natural gas, oil, or battery power—to run during an outage.
This backup power solution will be called upon sparingly. So, it must work properly when the community needs it.
How To Choose the Right Backup Power Source for Your Traffic Equipment
How can community leaders choose which backup power system is best for their traffic equipment? Here are some key features to look for:
- Automatic Self-Testing: These backup power solutions will run frequent self-diagnostics to ensure they’re running properly. They’ll send alerts if anything needs replacement.
- Operate Off-Grid: A solar panel must be able to power traffic signals that are far removed from the grid. If the power goes out in a remote area, locals want to know that their lights and signals will work while crews resolve the outage.
- Charge Controllers: Any solar-powered battery system needs a solar charge controller. Otherwise, it will continue to generate power past what the battery can handle, which can cause damage. Solar charge controllers regulate electrical flow through the panels. They cut the flow off when the battery reaches its optimal level.
Keep Your Roads Safe With Backup Power Solutions From Battle Born Batteries
Power outages can lead to unsafe conditions on the roads. When traffic signals stop working, accidents occur, traffic backs up, and even pedestrians are left at risk. Communities can prevent traffic signal outages by leaning on backup power solutions.
Battle Born Batteries is an industry leader when it comes to 24/7 power generation. From battery packs and solar panels to high-efficiency power backup generators, we have the power solutions you’re looking for.
Contact our experts today to learn more about our backup power solutions. Don’t let a simple power outage put members of your community in harm’s way.