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Sensors help keep traffic going

Q: What are the devices that look like cameras mounted at intersections used for?

A: While the Mississippi Department of Transportation does have traffic cameras in select cities, there aren’t any in Brookhaven. Instead, the camera-like devices are usually sensors that help control the lights on roads.

“Intersections use different kinds of sensors,” Deputy Director of Public Affairs Jas N. Smith with MDOT said. “Some of them have weight (sensors) that are embedded in the asphalt. Some of them have a sensor that can detect something is siting in that turn lane waiting to enter the intersection.”

The sensors — however they are implemented at a particular intersection — are useful for the flow of traffic because it prevents the signal for turning lanes from triggering unnecessarily, slowing down traffic.

Smith said there is also the possibility that the cameras could be license plate readers. However, Brookhaven Police Chief Kenneth Collins said while the city does use license plate readers periodically, they aren’t mounted on the lights at intersections.

“Those red lights probably have just got sensors on them. From time to time we have license plate readers put down, just to see what’s coming through Brookhaven,” he said.

Collins said the readers are not permanent devices owned by the city, because of cost. Instead, the city has an agreement with an outside agency to use the readers on an occasional basis.