Traffic lights are integral to the proper functioning of any urban transportation system. A necessary evil, they reduce the number of accidents and aim to increase throughput, yet they are a source of frustration for drivers.
One of these frustrations is being caught at a set of lights without any idea of how long they will take to change in favour of the driver.
A push by the National Road Users Association for visible countdown timers on traffic lights hopes to see better throughput and safer driving conditions for all.
“Our simulations show that by giving the driver an indication of when lights will change, rather than springing a cycle upon them, the driver’s reaction time is improved by upwards of 30%, which results in more cars through an intersection per cycle, improving the overall efficiency,” says Michelle Terry, NRUA founder, “We also expect fewer gridlocks, since drivers won’t thrust themselves into a blocked intersection if they can see that the lights are about to change.”
Schemes tested include placing illuminated signs above the signals.
“Displaying numbers works well in simulations, however we are also trialing colour, positional and rate-of-flash (ROF) sequences, in case numbers are too hard to see under particular driving conditions.”
There is no official date for a rollout of any proposed changes.