Ottawa is proving that smart traffic lights can reduce pollution

You see a green light in the distance, so you step on the gas, expecting to keep going. But as soon as you do that, it turns yellow. You realize you’re not going to make it before the red light, so you brake hard.

You’ve just wasted gas, and created more carbon pollution than you otherwise might have — not to mention put more wear and tear on your brakes — because you didn’t have a sixth sense about when the light was going to change.

But what if you could know in advance?

That’s the idea behind a project by the City of Ottawa, to reduce carbon pollution from its own fleet of vehicles by getting traffic lights to send signal data to drivers in advance. Knowing this information helps avoid hard braking and can reduce fuel consumption.