Traffic Scheme Efficiency

Latest figures show that more than 25 Londoners are believed to die prematurely every day from pollution related illness. Unnecessary congestion doesn't just waste time and money, it wastes lives! We should be doing our utmost to make our roads and traffic managment systems as efficient as possible, however, in recent times the authorities have been doing the opposite!

Traffic Lights vs Driver Initiative

Increasing Congestion: As there is so much traffic to process on the roads nowadays, traffic scheme efficiency can make or break our ability to get around expediently and conduct our affairs. Although observation and common sense tell us that it helps to expedite the flow of traffic, recent trends have done just the opposite, contributing towards increasing congestion, by robbing road resource for bus lanes, putting obstacles in our way and preventing traffic from turning where it needs to. On top of this we have had to contend with growing amounts of traffic lighting, perversely and nonsensically even on roundabouts.

More Flexible and Efficient: Traffic lighting systems lack the flexibility and the intelligence to operate efficiently. By using them we are not taking advantage of the the individual driver’s ability to think and react both flexibly and expedientlyy. Schemes that rely on the decision of the driver are simply much more efficient and flexible. They complement the smooth flow and integration of traffic and do not force traffic to have to stop or wait unnecessarily. We can see the difference when traffic lights breakdown. All of a sudden, and as if by magic, the congestion simply disappears.

Green Unfriendly: Traffic lights prevent vehicles from going when there is clear opportunity and they force vehicles to stop when there is otherwise no need. As well as being a nuisance and inconvenient for the motorist, this is green unfriendly as it unnecessarily increases pollution, noise, and vehicle wear and tear. Heavey lorries especially being forced to stop in the dead of night make much more noise when they have to pull away from a stand still than if they can just cruise on through, timing their approach to integrate with any oncoming vehicles.

Traffic Lights Cost More: As a nation we currently waste millions of hours every year waiting for lights to change when vehicles could otherwise have gone, or needn't have stopped at all. However, traffic lights also use electricity and need maintaining. Unnecessary holdups and congestion cost the nation millions of pounds every year. The total amount of this waste is phenominal on its own, however, add to this the cost of installing, running and maintaining controlled lighting systems, and it becomes even more substantial.

Driver Initiative: As far as pollution, noise pollution and vehicle wear and tear are concerned it is crucial to try and move away from inefficient traffic lighting systems and implement more driver initiative schemes which don't force vehicles to stop unnecessarily at all times of the day and night regardless of whether there is any traffic coming or not. Sometimes, local authorities feel that roundabouts offer a higher likelihood of accidents, however, encouraging drivers to observe a safe speed limit, enforced if necessary, allows the best of both worlds.

Zebra or Pelican? Although local authorities have trended towards more controlled lighting with integrated pedestrian crossing, seperate Zebra Crossings are much more efficient than Pelican Crossings, integrated or otherwise. Drivers will acknowledge a pedestrian waiting at a Zebra Crossing far quicker than the lights of a Pelican Crossing can change. At a Pelican crossing, pedestrians can be waiting in the pouring rain and nobody will stop to let them across because the lights are green, whereas at a Zebra crossing, vehicles will stop and let them cross immediately, whatever the weather.

Modified Pelican Crossing: Pelican crossings can be made much more efficient with a simple modification to operate them on a basis of having a flashing red light, instead of a constant one. The protocol being that, if the light is flashing red, vehicles are required to stop when pedestrians are crossing or waiting to cross. However, if the crossing is clear, vehicles can proceed with caution. This simple modification prevents vehicles from being held up unnecessarily when pedestrians have crossed quickly, or crossed during a gap in the traffic. It also prevents traffic being unnecessarily held up when mischievous children press the button as they walk past.

Absolutely Essential: As there is so much traffic on the roads nowadays, it is absolutely essential that we put emphasis on using the most efficient traffic schemes. It is easy to identify areas and trends in society where things have been made worse over the past few years, blocking of access routes, banning of left and right turns, the institution of bus lanes, replacing perfectly good working roundabouts with controlled lighting schemes, these are all retrogressive and not complementary to efficient traffic flow. We need to reverse our thinking!