They're Using That Term Again

A story from Pennsylvania is misusing their words. This is a typical misuse, though, and everyone (sort of) knows what they mean:

Gettysburg’s new synchronized system of traffic signals has caught more than just commuters by surprise.

I discussed the difference between “synchronized” and “coordinated” in the very first podcast. Unfortunately, they’re using the term in an egregious manner in this story.

When the square is gridlocked, the system activates green lights for traffic heading out of town. But in the meantime, traffic heading toward town can be sitting at a red light wondering whether oncoming traffic is breaking the law.

So the signals aren’t synchronized at all! Alas, we should all be used to reporters misusing terms under the pressure of deadlines.

It seems like PennDOT is using an adaptable signal system to coordinate a number of signals on a grid network in order to optimize flows through Gettysburgh. This is not a simple task. In fact, it’s a downright difficult one. Right now, they’re receiving a lot of complaints from drivers about “gridlock” and other issues. I’m willing to bet (from my chair here in Marietta) that PennDOT is still doing the tweaking and massaging phase of the system installation. If they are given the chance, and drivers pay attention to the traffic signals instead of relying on memorized timings, the traffic flows in Gettysburgh will get much better compared to the previous conditions.

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