Software aims to help save gas at stoplights


With gas prices rising, one Indiana city is taking action to get you more miles out of that next fill-up.

This holiday, the cash we're saving on fireworks will probably go straight in our gas tanks. At the pump, you can still find $3.08 per gallon.

"I would love to see the prices stay like this," said one driver, Seth.

"Budget-wise, this is great," said Scott Hughes as he topped off his tank on Lafayette Road.

"It was very appealing," said Leangela Colbert. I thought I'd better stop and top off even though I only need a half a tank."

One reason the gas station was so busy, "On the way home, I saw $3.45 on 48th Street, so I stopped here," said Seth.

He saved about $5 driving a few blocks and topping off here.

"I know gas prices are going to continue to drive up. I'm just enjoying it while it lasts," he said.

Analysts at say he is right. Gas prices in our area could jump between 20 and 40 cents per gallon in the next day or so. Many already have. The jump is fueled by a $7 spike in the barrel price of crude oil.

Stoplights are where we burn up much of our gas. Purdue University engineers have developed software now used in Lafayette and other cities to reduce idling. Sensors in the pavement send data on traffic flow back to city traffic engineers.

"We start putting it into a graphic that shows when the vehicles arrived, relative to green and relative to red. You can say, 'Ahh, we've got good coordination or maybe I need to make a little tweak now," Professor Darcy Bullock said.

Those tweaks include adding more green time to the left turn lanes.

Motorists welcome change.

"It gets real hot when you've got no air conditioning and what not," one driver said.

"Burning gas, sweating to death," said another.

Professor Bullock says motorists "don't want to stop and if they stop, not long."

Some of us waste up to $4 a week idling.

"Reducing fuel usage and emissions. I think those are some of the big success stories coming from this," said Purdue professor Neal Carboneau.

The software is also in use in Hamilton County. Indianapolis and Chicago are interested in it now, too.