Traffic lights are sometimes neccesary to regulate the road system and prevent accidents, however they have proliferated over the past few years and are far more prevalent and intrusive than is strictly necessary. This has given rise to the following drawbacks:

  • Increased pollution – vehicles are sat at idle waiting for the lights even when there's no traffic.
  • Increased noise – vehicles stopping and accellerating produce more noise than when cruising on part-throttle
  • Increased driver frustration leads to dangerous behaviour patterns.
  • Often no provable safety benefit.
  • Even sensor systems like SCOOT force vehicles to stop and accellerate, as they can only react when the junction is reached.
  • Traffic light systems on roundabouts are often pointless – roundabouts are designed so the traffic self regulates.

I propose a comprehesive review of traffic systems, with attention paid to the following points:

  • Are the lights necessary, could they not be replaced by more free flowing traffic regulation such as roundabouts/mini roundabouts, which are self regulating.
  • If they are necessary, are they required only during certain parts of the day? Either turn them off during off-peak hours or introduce a 'flashing amber: proceed with caution' state whereby drivers treat the junction if it was a give way.

Why is this idea important?

Regardless of the debate on CO2 and global warming, traffic pollution is a serious issue not just in cities but in suburban and rural areas as well. Keeping the traffic flowing as smoothly as possible will help to reduce this pollution.

There has been a trend in recent years to not allow individuals to exercise judgement  – traffic lights and other strict forms of control are preferred to self regulatory systems. What driver has not had to sit for what seems like ages at a red light while nothing comes through the junction, or seen a situation where a failure causes traffic lights to switch off, the result of which is the traffic flows much better through a junction?

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