RETHINK THE RED

Jeremy Sims, via email

I’ve been getting stuck at ‘broken’ traffic lights travelling outside of peak hours at night. These are intersections where there is major flow in one direction, while the other direction that crosses it have those triggered traffic lights. Smart idea, sure, except they’re often faulty and just hold cars for traffic that’s simply not there. This issue got me thinking and looking to the past.

About 20-odd years ago in Darwin the traffic lights would flash orange at open and clear intersections. Meaning they became four-way intersections under give-way rules. Or the major-flow direction lights would remain green, and cross-flow, lesstravelled lights would flash orange. Traffic flowed better, and you wouldn’t be stopping on a major road with no traffic in sight. Or sweating bullets because running a red light is a no no (and more and more red-light cameras seem to appear when you least expect it).

So why can’t we do that in other cities (and I hope it is still a thing in the Northern Territory)? Many of the roads and traffic signals are tuned for peak traffic, then reverts to some dumb mode, or a mode that is open to faults. There would be an added bonus (I would think) that you could have intersections that aren’t clear and open and have the current system, (or maybe a red-toorange flash creating a ‘stop’ sign) this would reduce travel time, use less fuel, and be less likely to be run out of frustration, and more importantly make it easier for police to spot drivers who might not be suitable for driving for whatever reason.