KENTUCKY (WEHT) – If stop lights seem to stay on for much longer than they should, perhaps you aren’t close enough to the sensor.

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) says these days timers aren’t as widely used, but instead traffic lights are activated by sensors embedded in the pavement. KYTC says these sensors are located directly behind the “stop bars,” which are the thick white lines on the pavement. When the sensor senses a vehicle stopped for a red light, it triggers the traffic light’s control box to change the traffic light from red to green, says the cabinet.

KYTC says when drivers stop well short of the “stop bar,” or pull past the “stop bar” into the intersection, the vehicle can’t be sensed, and thus it will not trigger the light to change.

KYTC says “stop bars” are positioned so as to give long vehicles with large turning radiuses more room to complete turns. The cabinet says when vehicles stop beyond the “stop bars” and extend out into the intersection, the amount of space long vehicles such as tractor-trailers have in which to turn is reduced. This can result in collisions between stopped vehicles and turning trucks, says KYTC.

KYTC says despite the common use of sensors, traffic light systems still have timers built into them for occasions when the loop sensors are not working.

The cabinet says in areas where no construction is taking place, motorists who suspect that a sensor is not working properly are asked to contact the Department of Highways to inform maintenance personnel of the problem. Their number is (502) 564-3280.