Ada County Highway District

ACHD's Road Wizard Sunday, October 1, 2017 ACHD's Road Wizard

Is there a lack of enforcement of the front license plate requirement in the Treasure Valley? Traffic detection camera at Chinden Boulevard and Orchard Street/36th Street malfunctions

The Road Wizard Replies

Dear Road Wizard: I wonder if you know the reason behind the lack of enforcement of front license plates in the Treasure Valley? I notice something on the order of one car in 20 doesn't have a front plate. Many, even most, are the very, very expensive cars. Granted, the sports cars may come with no front license mount, but it used to be required to install one. Now, it seems if you have enough money, no front plate is required. Is there a new law? Or, is it just because these powerful people aren't required to abide by the law?

Anonymous

Road Wizard:

Perhaps some people feel entitled because there was a recent effort to undo the front license plate requirement in Idaho. Many other states are back-plates-only.

Some Idaho lawmakers drafted two bills over the past couple of years which were both rejected. The first sought to only have license plates on the back of vehicles. The second proposed that vehicles that aren't designed with a plate holder in the front should be exempt from the rule, just like classic cars are exempt.

Police opposed the bills because it would make their jobs more difficult. For example, police wouldn't be able to see license plates on oncoming cars on two-way roadways. Also, people traveling with a rage-filled driver behind them would have a harder time reading and ultimately reporting the license plate number.

Police officers will stop drivers without a front license plate and write them tickets. But some drivers may still choose to violate the law. Perhaps a Ferrari owner would be more concerned about speeding violations, anyway.

Dear Road Wizard: I wanted to ask about the light at Chinden Boulevard and Orchard Street/36th Street. After the lights let traffic pass from Orchard/36th, the left-turn signal goes green for the Chinden westbound lanes to turn onto Orchard. This light will go even if there isn't a car to trigger the camera, backing up traffic on eastbound Chinden. The green light for eastbound traffic only allows a few cars through before switching again.

Ken

Road Wizard:

Lengthy backups were the result of this signal malfunction. A detection camera had gone haywire and was replaced.

There are several other reasons why traffic detection cameras sometimes don't work correctly. The cameras can be confused by shadows or fog. More and more, camera traffic detection is being replaced by radar detection. It's more expensive, but significantly reduces these problems.

ACHD will change most of the Chinden signals between Locust Grove Road and Idaho 16 to radar detection over the next year. Along with that upgrade, more advanced signal controllers will be installed.

This is a bit of a test. Software in signal controllers already send data back to humans at computers, such as how long green lights lasted, which helps to identify signal malfunctions and track how efficiently the signal is working.

The new technology will provide much more detailed information about signal operations by collecting data 10 times per second.

This will better identify what green time is needed and if the signal can be tweaked more frequently to better move traffic. If successful, the technology may be used on the rest of Chinden, or even more importantly, on Idaho 55 (Eagle Road). It would be unwise to experiment with new signal functions on an already overwhelmed Eagle Road.

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