The tone of an entire day can be set by the smoothness of your commute to work. Drivers just want the ability to go, go, go, but some days can seem like the Fates conspired against any chance of missing at least some obstacles along the route.

Frustrations such as the slow driver, distracted drivers, rude drivers, and drivers who are already to the point of rage can make travel difficult enough without poor lane structuring and traffic flow adding to your troubles. While local law enforcement can only do so much to quell problems with individual drivers, modern traffic technology comes to the rescue regarding highway structuring and enabling steadier traffic flow.

Cities that are growing at a seemingly exponential rate especially need alternatives for handling increasing numbers of drivers on the streets. The most popular solution has been to create one-way streets, expand the number of lanes on the interstate or build in additional easements to relieve bottlenecks. However, extensive roadway improvement projects not only cause further delays, but are more expensive than cities are able to fund in some cases. Therefore, urban planners are beginning to turn to the long-ignored culprit for enabling traffic jams: the much hated, but very necessary traffic signal.

They hinder you from reaching destinations faster, make you burn more fuel, and test your brakes, engine and transmission. Often, they force you to wait for several minutes, which seem like an eternity as clock-in time at work draws nearer. Despite your effort to purchase the most efficient vehicle on the lot, traffic lights seem to nullify any such perks that the manufacturer designed for your vehicle.

Thanks to modern technology, drivers increasingly have a luxury that drivers in previous generations didn’t get to enjoy. Smart signals are built to sense when traffic approaches and change to green, sometimes even before the approaching traffic comes to a complete stop, particularly when travel times are away from peak hours and there are very few if any other cars on the road.

Synchronized traffic lights, or dynamic traffic light control systems are another device urban planners and civil engineers have implemented to open up traffic flow. Several lights in a succession, such as the traffic signals on Congress Street in Tucson, AZ, are synchronized to let a string of traffic travel through the downtown area without stopping. The roads in this particular area are tighter since the area was developed in a time when Tucson was less populated and didn’t have to support as many motorists. Synchronizing the lights was a smarter and more cost effective idea than for the city to attempt buying perhaps billions of dollars in property or eliminating the sidewalks to expand the two-lane road way.

While dynamic traffic light control systems are installed mostly for areas that become congested during rush hour, other areas will still have lights are still set to the old fashioned fixed time traffic light control system, meaning simply that the time it takes a light to turn green is predetermined regardless of traffic flow. Dynamic light control systems are more expensive to install, so where they are not an absolute necessity, the city usually stays with the fixed system.