Justin Etheredge is a Senior Consultant for Dominion Digital in Richmond, Virginia - United States. He likes to blog quite a bit at http://www.codethinked.com with hopes that someone out there might read it. When he isn't writing software or working on his computer... wait, he is always doing that. Anyways, Justin likes programming, a lot. Justin has posted 24 posts at DZone. View Full User Profile

The Law of Unintended Consequences

12.19.2009
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Bet you never thought about it, but Energy-efficient traffic lights can't melt snow. Talk about the Law of Unintended Consequences. You want to save money by buying more energy-efficient traffic lights, but then you end up spending an untold amount of money on traffic light cleaners, or potentially, the EMS/Police who have to deal with the aftermath of stop lights not working after heavy snows. Then there are the health insurance costs, department of transportation costs to fix the barriers that might get damaged, car insurance costs, etc... The consequences are complex and far reaching. But once you see it, it just seems so obvious! Of course LEDs aren't going to melt snow, they don't produce very much heat at all!

Unfortunately, while using incandescent bulbs, this wasn't a problem. So it wasn't a problem that they knew needed to be addressed. Trust me, if incandescent bulbs didn't melt the snow previously, then you can be guaranteed it would have been at the top of their list to find a solution to this problem. But they picked a solution based on one factor that brought some other problems along with it.

Read the rest of this post at http://www.codethinked.com

Published at DZone with permission of its author, Justin Etheredge.

(Note: Opinions expressed in this article and its replies are the opinions of their respective authors and not those of DZone, Inc.)

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Comments

Alex Kizub replied on Sat, 2009/12/19 - 9:55am

Very true. Agreed 100%

Frank Schwarz replied on Sat, 2009/12/19 - 10:27am

Are you sure that you didn't also trap into "We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them."? How can one be sure that your advide is not the root of the stated problem?

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