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Traffic signal tech explains why it's pointless to press the pedestrian button more than once

When we are in a hurry and need to rush, we often go about pushing the pedestrian button multiple times. But that doesn't make any difference.

Traffic signal tech explains why it's pointless to press the pedestrian button more than once
Cover Image Source: TikTok | @trafficlightdoctor

Impatience often takes hold of us as we approach a pedestrian crosswalk, especially when we are in a hurry and see that small button on the pole. We press it repeatedly, hoping that our persistence will somehow magically change the signal from "stop" to "walk" in seconds. However, a TikTok video that has gone viral, amassing over 1.9 million views, has been shared by a traffic signal tech who goes by Traffic Light Doctor (@trafficlightdoctor) on TikTok. The clip sheds light on a surprising truth: those additional button presses do not actually influence your waiting time.

Image Source: TikTok | @trafficlightdoctor
Image Source: TikTok | @trafficlightdoctor


In reality, every time you press the pedestrian crosswalk button, it sends a 'call' signal to the traffic control system. This signal serves as an indication that a pedestrian is waiting to cross the street. The traffic system duly acknowledges this call, placing it in a queue until the appropriate time to change the crosswalk signal arises. Crucially, it's important to understand that, no matter how many times you press the button in haste, the system will automatically reset it to its initial state once the call has been answered.

In simpler terms, the number of times you press the button does not impact the speed at which you receive the coveted green "Walk" signal. The traffic control system operates on its own internal timing mechanism, carefully calibrated to determine when it's safe to allow pedestrians to cross the road. Therefore, your frantic button pushes, no matter how enthusiastic, will not alter this timing. The system follows its preset intervals.

Image Source: Pexels | JESHOOTS
Image Source: Pexels | JESHOOTS

However, it's worth noting that the functionality of pedestrian crosswalk buttons can vary from place to place and may serve different purposes. In some regions, pedestrian crosswalks are programmed to not respond primarily to button presses during the day, rendering the buttons effective only outside of those hours. This setup means that during daylight hours, the traffic lights adhere to a predetermined cycle, and pressing the button doesn't affect their operation.

However, in the evening or during quieter times, the buttons come into play, allowing pedestrians to trigger a change in the signal. In other areas, pedestrian crosswalk buttons are designed with specific purposes in mind, often related to accessibility. Some of these buttons are equipped to assist people with disabilities. When activated, they might produce audible signals, such as beeps or chirps, to indicate when it's safe to cross. Additionally, some pedestrian buttons may illuminate the crosswalk area to enhance driver awareness, especially in low-visibility conditions or at night.

Image Source: TikTok | @trafficlightdoctor
Image Source: TikTok | @trafficlightdoctor

Reactions to the TikTok video unveiled a wide range of opinions regarding the effectiveness of these buttons. Some viewers admitted to pressing them multiple times, even if they were aware that their actions didn't change anything. They enjoyed the act of pushing the button as a form of interactive engagement while waiting. Others remained skeptical, viewing the buttons as placebos designed to appease impatient pedestrians.

Traffic Light Doctor, however, doesn't stop at debunking the myths surrounding pedestrian crosswalk buttons. He also offers forward-thinking suggestions for improving crosswalk systems. These ideas include the implementation of advanced sensors and adaptive algorithms, which could enhance both efficiency and pedestrian safety. By making crosswalks smarter and more responsive to real-time conditions, these improvements could significantly benefit pedestrians and drivers alike.

The insights shared by Traffic Light Doctor serve as a reminder of the broader issue of pedestrian safety and the importance of a well-designed crosswalk system. Beyond the buttons themselves, clear signage, well-marked crosswalks, and education for both pedestrians and drivers are fundamental components of road safety. 

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