All drivers know the feeling: You’re cruising down the road, making good time, but a traffic light ahead turns red. You have to stop and wait, even if there are no other cars at the intersection.

The delay is frustrating and bad for the climate.

“The vehicle is not going anywhere or traveling at all, but it’s still burning fuel,” says Bob Pishue of Inrix, a transportation analytics company.

His team studied a week of traffic data for more than 200,000 intersections – about two-thirds of all the traffic signals in the U.S.

They found that the average signal caused more than 80 hours of delay each day. In some places it was more than 140 hours.

Many delays are unavoidable because of heavy traffic, pedestrian use, or trains. But Pishue says the data reveals the need to better coordinate traffic lights.

“What we were able to do was identify … which signals could maybe use another look,” he says.

He says re-timing signals or installing lights that automatically adapt to traffic conditions could help reduce wasteful idling.

“And this is something that local jurisdictions can do, that they have the power to do,” Pishue says.

And that can cut carbon pollution right away.

Reporting credit: ChavoBart Digital Media