I can't be the only one who gets frustrated by this. Traffic lights that change to red for no apparent reason whatsoever, or don't seem to work the way they should.

Now yes, some areas need to have timed lights. This is especially true in cities where there are so many crossroads. It probably wouldn't make sense to have them on timers.

Aside from that, why are so many traffic lights timed so horrendously in New Jersey? Especially when there's no reason for the light to change?

I've experienced this quite a bit while driving our roads. Most of the time, this problem seems to be mainly on New Jersey's state highways. But that's not the only place it happens.

N Rotteveel
N Rotteveel

This is made even worse when the lights change at just that sweet point. That point when you're just a bit too far to make the light when it begins to change, forcing you to slam on your brakes.

But when the crossroad turns green, there's nobody on it. No car waiting from before, and no car while you sit there idling away.

Red and green traffic lights against blue sky backgrounds

Eventually, the light turns green and you're able to continue on your way.

But it doesn't take long before you approach the next night. And, same as before, the light begins to change right at that sweet spot.

Caution yellow, Vintage traffic light
Getty Images/iStockphoto

Once again, you're just a little too far back to make the light, but also at a point where you have to stop fairly quickly.

So once again you sit there idling away as the crossroad light changes green. And once again, there's nobody around to justify this light to have changed in the first place.


Eventually, the light turns green, and you begin to go once again. And with frustration building, you accelerate even faster since now you might be trying to make up some time.

But not far up is the next traffic signal. And just as you approach it, what do you think happens yet again?

A red traffic light against a blue and cloudy sky

Now you're really frustrated. What if you were on your way to work and will now be late because of this awful timing?

This can go on for quite some time depending on the road. And it doesn't even need to be at a busy point of the day. This commonly happens overnight as well, when barely anyone's on the roads.

Sergii Baibak
Sergii Baibak

I can attest to this one. I have to leave pretty early in the morning to make it to the radio station for my Sunday morning show, which begins at 6 A.M. Even traveling at those early hours, I'll get hit by many of these lights for no reason whatsoever.

And it causes problems for many of us. Aside from the stop-and-go, here are a few more issues caused by this.

Justin Sullivan, Getty Images

More wear to your car

Your brakes take the brunt of it. The constant stopping and going will only wear your brake pads down faster, which in turn, adds to more maintenance.

Paul Fleet
Paul Fleet

Wasted gas

All that idling at the lights eats away at your gas mileage. Doesn't matter how efficient your car is, every vehicle gets the same kind of mileage when stopped. Zero.

Not to mention how expensive gas is nowadays. None of us want to waste gas just sitting there idling. And for those with electric cars? They're still using some power while not moving, which in turn will force you to charge sooner.

Car Models with the Most Speeding Tickets
Photo by Mauro Sbicego on Unsplash

Encourages speeding

We all know we shouldn't, but sometimes we can't help it. We just get sick of being stuck in this endless trap of red lights.

So we think that if we go faster and accelerate harder from the light we just came from that we might be able to make the next light. Sometimes we might, but oftentimes we don't. And we probably wouldn't feel the need to do this in the first place if the lights were better timed.

Survey Calls U.S. Traffic Signals Inefficient

The opposite can also be a problem

Now sometimes, the main highway might remain green and not change when it's supposed to. Think of that red light you sit at forever and it never seems to change.

It's an evergreen light for the main road, but an ever-red light for the crossing traffic. Oftentimes it may be a sensor issue, but the really long wait might tempt you to run it.


Now yes, the light that never seems to change might be more of a rarety, but the terribly timed lights have been an issue in New Jersey for a very long time. Especially during hours when there's no excuse for it.

If during the overnight hours when roads are quiet, or if no cross-traffic is waiting at busier times, then they shouldn't change. It's as simple as that.

Newark, NJ

Hopefully, something will be done to address this on New Jersey's roadways at some point in the future. But I wouldn't count on it.

I know there has to be a logical reason why the traffic lights do this. Perhaps if we knew that we wouldn't get as frustrated having to stop so many times on the same stretch of road.

But until that day comes, we can all get frustrated together. We just have to remember not to get frustrated with each other. When these lights change like this, it bothers us all.

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