Tue, Mar 11, 2008 - Page 2 News List

Traffic light timers have an effect on accidents

LIGHT SCIENCE Analysis has shown that timers at red lights help reduce the number of accidents. Twice as many accidents occurred when timers were installed at green lights

By Shelley Shan  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Ministry of Transportation and Communications is amending regulations and requesting that all cities and counties install countdown timers for red lights only.

Countdown timers at red lights inform motorists about the time left before the traffic light turns green, whereas countdown timers at green lights tell motorists how much time there is left before the light turns red.

At present, counties can choose which system to use and can also opt not to install the devices. In some counties, however, timers for both red lights and green lights are installed.

Chang Shun-ching (張舜清), a section chief at the Department of Railways and Highways, said the Institute of Transportation has analyzed 187 road sections nationwide where the devices are installed.

Results showed that the timers at red lights had helped reduce the number of traffic accidents by 50 percent.

They also reduced deaths and injuries by 100 percent and 52 percent respectively.

Conversely, the number of accidents where countdown timers were used at green lights increased twofold. While the number of fatalities did not rise, the number of injuries was up by more than 30 percent.

When both types of timers are installed, the number of accidents rose 19 percent and injuries 23 percent respectively.

Chang said the policy would likely to take effect in June. The amendment does not need the approval of the legislature.

Chang said trial runs of the two systems were being held in some counties.

Once the amendment is complete, counties will have to follow the regulations, he said.

"If they choose to install timers for green lights, they will be doing so at their own risk," he said.

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