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“Why don’t you learn from my mistakes? It takes half your life to learn from your own.”- Shelagh Delaney

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The Wasp
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UK finally looking to follow European Traffic light policy?

As I am off to Estonia tomorrow, the following Telegraph article is quite timely :

The Department for Transport is carrying out research to see whether the existing use of traffic lights around the clock is justified.

One council, Portsmouth, has applied to the DfT, volunteering to carry out the trials on behalf of the Government.

“It can be extremely frustrating if you are on the road at 2 or 3 o’clock in the morning and forced to stop at a red light when no other cars are around,” said Barry Rawlings, senior traffic systems engineer at Portsmouth City Council.

“Turning the lights to flashing amber in these quiet periods would allow motorists to stop and go as they wish and keep delays to a minimum.”

All I can say is about time although knowing our government it will spend about 15 years looking into it before deciding that it is too dangerous after being lobbied by some “think of the children” shroud waving tossers who will swear blind that it will increase road casualties.

Estonia makes extensive use of the flashing amber traffic lights at night. Even in Tallinn itself, the suburban lights switch to give way from around 8pm until 6am the following morning on all but the biggest intersections.

They even have a very simple and well understood answer to this point from the article :

But Andrew Howard, Head of Road Safety at the AA, voiced concern at the proposals. “It sounds like a great idea but I have concerns about how a trial can be implemented safely,” he said.

“By switching lights to flashing amber you may improve traffic flow, cut journey times and reduce pollution but it is not without its faults.

“First, there is the issue of who has priority if two cars reach the junction at the same time.

Simple really – you designate one traffic route as give way with large give way signs underneath the flashing traffic light. It is easy to understand what the system is even for a non-resident as the signs are the standard triangular give way used in most countries.

As for effectiveness, compared to the UK it is great.

I work early morning shifts mostly and sitting at red lights when there is a completely clear junction is annoying at least if not downright stupid. It encourages a lot of red light jumping or “amber gambler” behaviour to take the phrase used in public information campaigns from years past. The only thing I end up thinking while sitting there is firstly, how much petrol I am wasting and secondly, how everyone else does it better than us.

With luck, I will have buggered off long before any changes are made here but, one day we may actually see the light – and it will be a flashing amber one.

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2 comments to UK finally looking to follow European Traffic light policy?

  • microdave

    “The idea that drunks and young drivers are going to get to the flashing lights after midnight and say ‘after you’ is nonsense.” – That’s funny, I thought drink driving was now outlawed?

    Typical that a load of busybodies should crawl out of the wood work, and start finding reasons to complain. This works in other countries, why the hell shouldn’t it work here? Good luck to Portsmouth council – I hope they get their trial.

    • Wasp

      Microdave : It works fine in many countries as do rules like being able to turn right through a red light if there are no pedestrians crossing as applies in Germany. Why we can’t turn left in sililar circumstances is beyond me.

      The shroud wavers must think that everyone is either completely stupid here or that we must be protected from ourselves at all costs.