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Apps to Catch Green Lights Have Glitches

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March 26, 2020—Through real-world testing, Consumer Reports found that apps that help drivers catch green lights have glitches.

Automakers and app developers are using software to try to perfect the idea by calculating the ideal speed to catch a green light and telling drivers how long before a red light turns to green. Currently, these systems are available only in certain areas where local government agencies have agreed to share traffic light data with third parties.

Consumer Reports tested the apps in real time in New York City, White Plains, N.Y., and Salt Lake City. Results showed they didn’t always provide accurate information.

Limitations in the software exist because traffic lights and cars are not equipped to communicate directly with each other. The apps instead use sophisticated algorithms, historical data, and information from local traffic control centers to predict whether a light will be red or green.

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