We know that traffic lights are essential to safe and effective highway management, even if red lights do sometimes cause a little irritation! It can be easy to forget the safety principles that underpin traffic management, and the fact that apparent improved traffic flow for some, can come at the expense of others.
But here at SRL, we strongly believe that traffic lights play an important role in our highway system. Traffic management isn’t as a clear-cut as it’s made out to be, and the benefits of light installation reach way beyond queue management. So, how do traffic lights make our roads a better place for everyone?
Safety: As you probably know, traffic lights improve road safety, especially at complex junctions and during rush hour. Studies reveal that when traffic lights are installed on an uncontrolled junction, there is a 50% reduction in injuries. It has also been observed that when various junctions are linked to one another via traffic light sequence, there are even fewer accidents. From an alternative point of view, traffic light controlled crossings also make it much safer and easier for pedestrians to cross busy and dangerous roads.
Air quality: A lesser known fact is the role traffic lights play in improving air quality. Many of us have concerns about vehicle emissions, but effective traffic management actually lessens the environmental impact of driving. Research has found that a car travelling steadily causes less pollution than a braking, stopping and accelerating car, meaning that deploying a green wave is much better for air quality. Industry technology development is focused on implementing traffic management solutions that prioritise air quality, so in the future, lights will be even more beneficial to our roads.
Traffic flow: At SRL, we firmly believe in the benefits of traffic lights to traffic flow. Critics of light-controlled traffic management take a very one dimensional view, and ignore how improved traffic flow for some road users can actually have a detrimental knock-on effect for other drivers. For example, traffic may be moving smoothly along a main road without traffic lights, but what happens to drivers trying to exit from side streets, car parks or driveways? Increasing traffic intensity also leads to growing pressure on important through routes in villages and towns, which leads to even more cars being caught up in congestion.
With all this in mind, it looks like traffic lights are indeed still the heroes of our highways. As our roads get increasingly busy, traffic management systems are essential to keeping us all safe, and keeping us moving.
All data is taken from DTV Consultants, an independent European advisory service which has 20 years of knowledge and expertise in the field of traffic and transport, with the company comprising a team of approximately 40 industry professionals. More information can be found at http://www.dtvconsultants.eu/Home.aspx