As the first major winter storm of the season takes aim on the Northeast, energy-efficiency may be contributing to guaranteed traffic nightmares.

LED traffic lights can't melt the snow and ice that encrust them.

LEDs may use 90 percent less energy than incandescent bulbs, and municipalities may have reaped thousands of dollars in energy savings, but the new traffic lights have been blamed for dozens of accidents and at least one death.

Authorities in several states are testing possible solutions—installing weather shields, adding heating elements like those used in airport runway lights, coating the lights with water-repellent substances, even sending out city crews with air compressors to blow snow and ice off obscured lights.

Mmmm. Sounds like a lot of energy.

With holidays and hazardous travel converging this weekend, ask first, is this travel necessary? If so, proceed with caution.


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