A device used by emergency vehicles to change red lights into green is finding its way into civilian hands and transportation officials are concerned. "It has the potential to be a huge problem," said Steve Misgen, a Minnesota Department of Transportation signal operations engineer.
The device is known as a mobile infrared transmitter, or MIRT, and can be bought for $300 through some retailers and on-line at ebay and other websites. Usually costing from $650 to $1,000, cheaper devices are now cropping up prompting a Michigan state legislator to promise legislation that make the devices illegal for individual use.
A U.S. Department of Transportation survey of the nation's 78 largest metropolitan areas last year found that about 26,500 intersections across the nation can be controlled by these devices that have been used for 30 years to help speed emergency vehicles to incidents.