Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Improving intersection safety without using red light cameras

If DOT and governments were really serious about improving intersection safety, instead of installing some red light cameras (that actually make intersections less safe), they would instead reconfigure the traffic lights to follow the stop light sequence used in many European countries. Instead of the common "Red, Green, Yellow, back to Red" cycle that is so common in the states, a lot of countries use "Red, Red-Yellow flashing, Green, Yellow, and back to Red". This extra notification (flashing Red and Yellow at the same time) alerts drivers in the red (stopped) cross road that the light is getting ready to change to Green and they will be able to proceed "very soon".

Many times people run the Yellow/Red lights in an intersections because the cross traffic (generally) does not know when their light will go from Red to Green, so the red light runner gains some extra seconds to "scoot the light". If instead, everyone knew in advance that the light was getting ready to change and that the currently stopped traffic was getting set to go "at the light change", people would be less likely to take the risk and run the red.

Instead of "inform everyone of the up-coming light change", governments install red light cameras. It is claimed for safety but studies have shown this actually makes intersections less safe as lead cars stop abruptly causing rear-end collisions with subsequent cars that expected the lead car to not stop. Despite the evidence that these cameras cause more problems than they solve, local governments continue to install them due to their promotion as a revenue source. Put safety first, change the stop light pattern instead of installing red light cameras.

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