Heat Seeking Traffic Cameras

Heat Seeking Traffic Cameras

Alexandra McClung

Wichita Falls Officials unveiled a new traffic safety technology system on Thursday, called TrafiSense.  It’s the first time it’s being used in the state of Texas.

Mark Beauchamp, Traffic Superintendent for Wichita Falls said, “One of the things as a city as a whole is trying to do is become a bicycle friendly city.  Right now there is only five in the state and we should would like to be number six.”

With the current cameras that are being used across Wichita Falls, there are a lot of flaws.  For example, Sarah King with FLIR Technologies said the glaring sun can block the cameras from detecting anything.  This can cause drivers, motorcyclists, and cyclists to be stuck at a red light for a long period of time.

King said, “Currently cyclists will have to come up to a light and more than likely run the red light because they are not being detected by the optical cameras right now.  So, this camera will actually detect them, call a green light for them.”

She also explained the green light will be extended.  Since people on bikes don’t reach the same speed as cars, this ensures they make it across the intersection in a timely manner and safely.  The cameras also detect someone approaching the intersection 90 feet away. 

Safety is a priority for Beauchamp.  Although no accidents have been reported, he said they wanted to find a better solution before an accident does happen.

“It obviously does pose a safety problem.  Especially now that a lot of people are riding a carbon frame bike.  The old fashioned loop detection just will not see that at all,” he said.

The city looked into the camera system and noticed it provided a dual solution.  It was able to accurately detect motorcyclist, drivers, and cyclists on the road.  That’s when they decided they wanted to test the system out.  They started the testing a few months ago and have seen success in the data they have received.

“We will keep testing up until October.  In fact, we’re talking about an additional test site in the city that has a lot of bicycle activity so we’ll be putting that online pretty soon,” Beauchamp said.

That additional site it at Jefferson and Highway 240.  It’s another popular place for cyclists to ride.

Beauchamp said, “A lot of group rides go through there in the evenings a lot of MSU rides so it’s a good opportunity to see if we can detect some bicycles.”

With Hotter’N Hell Hundred being an annual event, the new cameras would also make it safer when people are training.

Once the trial period is over, they will bring it up to City Council members for approval.  The new cameras would cost $18,000 to $20,000 per intersection.  Right now the city spend between $12,000 and $25,000 at each intersection.  Beauchamp said the new cameras would provide them with more accuracy for the same price or less.  He said it would be worth the money.


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