I also count the number of times the "do not cross" light flashes and decide from there.
In some places I have a manditory stop, then a Right turn and drive a block to stop lights timed together.
If I'm at that manditory stop and nobody behind or approaching I have two choices:
1. Make my Right turn and hope I can time the next light correctly.
2. Just remain at the stop sign with engine off, until those lights turn green and surely make it through efficiently.
I'll do #2 if I can.
Some lights I can hang right on Red (Legal) keeping momentum.
Then keep moving and swing Left to eventually rejoin the road, essentially bypassing the light.
Not sure if that may help you but is an example of what works for me.
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I too thought the thread was about timing lights - I have a few Craftsman timing lights.
My lights around here are sporadic. In the morning I have one light in particular after I drop off my passenger that is neat. I'll pull up to it over the line, then back up, then go forward over the line again, then back one more time - it will change. If I just pull up to it, it'll take forever to change - maybe 3 minutes.
Anyone listen to "Car Talk"? I heard a whining wife on it a few weeks ago that complained about her husband who timed lights. She said he started decelaration about a mile from the light - I find that one slightly hard to believe but each territory has its own geographics so maybe I shouldn't be too critical. She also said he held up a ton of traffic which drove her nuts. They agreed he was in the wrong, about this time my head was spinning around in circles like on The Exorcist as I was in the husband's favor. That'll be one episode I remember for a while.
Get an accurate watch and check the timing of the lights and see of they turn red at the same time every day - if they do then you maybe able to figure out when they turn but chances are no one in the government is thinking about optimizing traffice flow to save gas in cars. Typically the light will stop 10 cars to let 1 car out of a side street that would normally go if there was a stop sign there instead of a light.
All of our lights are based on traffic demand, and linked into a central system to keep traffic movement most efficiently. So, essentially, you have traffic sensors that change the light for that direction.
You want someone ahead of you to trigger the light before you arrive.
But, there's always that rogue vehicle perpendicular that could trigger yours red.
Here where I live they have mounted cameras looking in each direction at all the intersections on several main roads (Rt 7 from Leesburg to Tysons Corner for example). These cameras are actually monitored by live human beings that control the lights durring peak hours! It works pretty well for cars that are keeping up with traffic, I am a bit slower than most cars so I get stopped a bit more often. It must be expensive to build and staff a system like that.
Here is my method of timing lights; Unless there is some evidence to the contrary assume all lights will be red, When I have enough momentum to make it to the light I coast engine off, If I get lucky and make it thru the light I continue to coast as long as it is reasonable, If I don't make it thru the light at least I didn't waste as much energy as I would have if I had the engine running. I laugh at the people in the fast lane that accelerate past me so they can get to the red light first.