I watch too many police "pursuit" TV programmes I think. I'm not sure quite why I find them so intriguing, but I do - maybe it's the sense of natural justice. Maybe it's just about being informed about what goes on "out there". Maybe I just like the cars. ☺
Either way, there is a common theme - almost all pursuits come to an end, usually with a bit of a thump. More often than not it will take one of two endings. Either the roads are empty and mr. getaway ploughs his car into a field on a tight corner, or it's busy traffic and some unsuspecting motorist gets belted at an intersection.
So, a simple thought occured to me: what if the emergency services could set all traffic lights in the area to flashing red if a pursuit (or indeed any emergency situation) was underway? That would (could) keep intersections clear and help prevent innocent motorists getting caught up in one of those unfortunate endings.
Why flashing red and not red? Well, motorists would know that special circumstances are in force and not simply that the lights were faulty - I've seen people jump a red light when they think they are "stuck on red". Flashing red is used, for example, at railyway level crossings to indicate impending danger.
As a user interface concept, this seems pretty simple and effective. Rettrofitting it to the nation's roads is another matter. ☺