By Tori Mason

LAKEWOOD, Colo. (CBS4) – Drivers can help the City of Lakewood collect data to improve the flow of traffic. The Colorado Sun reported Tuesday that select Audi vehicles with concierge service may help Lakewood drivers avoid red lights.

(credit: CBS)

The same data Audi uses from the city’s traffic management center is also available in the smartphone app, EnLighten.

“The more we can get people to drive the same speed, and progress at the intersection, is better for everyone,” said Lakewood traffic engineer Mike Whiteaker.

CBS4’s Tori Mason interviews Mike Whiteaker. (credit: CBS)

Whitaker says traditional signal timing was done by city workers driving up and down the roads. Advancing technology has allowed select cars to send data back to the city, giving engineers more information to make traffic adjustments.

“It’s really early on the performance metric side because there are not many vehicles out there yet,” said Whiteaker. He says the city’s traffic management center can also collect similar data from a smartphone app.

(credit: CBS)

EnLighten uses GPS to track your vehicle’s speed and locate upcoming traffic signals.

“It’ll start showing you what your range or speeds could be to make the next light on green and the light after that on green,” explained Whiteaker. The app also has sound notifications to prevent drivers from taking their eyes off the road.

(credit: CBS)

It also shows drivers how long they’ll sit at a red light, a “green” feature for stop-start cars.

“It may say it’ll be 60 seconds before it turns green. Well, that car could turn itself off. Then 5 or 10 seconds before the light turns green, it could start itself up again. It’ll save 50 seconds of emissions or so,” said Whiteaker.

It’s mutually beneficial — the city collects traffic data, while drivers can avoid red lights, save gas and save energy. The information collected from these cars and apps could create smoother rides for all drivers down the road.

(credit: CBS)

“As we get more and more cars out there, it’ll start giving us better data on where people are stopped and where they’re getting through. We can start focusing on bottle necks or problem areas. It’ll give us a better idea of how traffic is slowing around the city,” said Whiteaker.

Car-related smartphone apps can be a distraction on the road. It’s best to familiarize yourself with how EnLighten works before using it in your car.

Tori Mason