Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Fewer traffic lights make safer roads, the same is true with speed cameras

It has been reported in the Times:

For six months, lights at up to seven junctions in Ealing will be concealed by bags and drivers will be left to negotiate their way across by establishing eye contact with pedestrians and other motorists.

Ealing Council believes that, far from improving the flow of traffic, lights cause delays and may even increase road danger. Drivers race towards green lights to make it across before they turn red. Confidence that they have right of way lulls them into a false sense of security, meaning that they fail to anticipate hazards coming from the side. The council hopes that drivers will learn to co-operate, crossing junctions on a first-come first-served basis rather than obeying robotic signals that have no sense of where people are waiting.

The move follows other successful experiments with removing traffic lights in continental Europe. In the Dutch town of Drachten, for example, the removal of traffic lights at one big junction resulted in crashes falling from 36 in the four years before the scheme was introduced to two in the next two years. The average time for each vehicle to cross the junction fell from 50 seconds to 30 seconds despite a rise in the volume of traffic.

Maybe it's time we also took a similar approach with speed cameras. Despite their trebling in number during Labour's tenure in Government, their contribution to road safety has been negligible. During the same period other European countries have seen large drops in deaths and serious injuries on the roads, but without the presence of speed cameras. Maybe it's time Labour stopped treating us like five year olds?