Time spent at traffic lights increases

The RAC Foundation is calling for changes in the way traffic lights are operated, after a report shows the number of sets of traffic lights in Britain jumped by some 30%.

Unpublished figures from the Department for Transport (DfT) also show that by the end of 2008, some 8,500 sets of lights were programmed to give priority to buses.

In Lincoln there are 45 signal controlled junctions and 42 stand-alone pedestrian crossings, with the last new junction installed in 2009, prior to one installed in 2006.

Lincolnshire County Council also built two new stand-alone crossings in 2009, one in 2008 and one in 2007.

Professor Stephen Glaister, director of the RAC Foundation, said traffic lights can ease journeys or be a source of frustration.

“It is plain that lights have an important role to play but with ever more congested streets they need to be very finely tuned to ensure they are not doing more harm than good – and that means they must react to changing traffic conditions.”

The report says traffic lights do deliver economic and safety benefits, but not at every location and not all of the time.

The study also calls DfT to consider carrying out trials of flashing amber lights at times when there is little traffic.

This would allow drivers to proceed with caution at junctions, as is common in countries such as France and Italy.

“The Department for Transport is nervous of introducing flashing amber signals on the grounds of safety, but they do seem to work in other countries,” Glaister added.

Tim Clark, Senior Engineer at the County Council said “all traffic signals are phased to maintain the swiftest possible movement for all users, in vehicles or on foot.

“New traffic signals installations are only installed when computer modelling based on traffic flows indicates that they are necessary.

“Pedestrian crossings are installed where similar calculations or safety reasons determine that zebra crossings are not appropriate,” Clark explained.