Traffic signals are traffic control devices, which alternatively direct traffic to proceed or stop. A lot of people believe that these signals are solutions to all traffic-related problems at junctions or intersections. It is important to understand how these signals work, what they can do, and what they cannot.
Signals are known to provide maximum control at intersections. This is because they relay messages on what motorists and pedestrians should do and what they should not. The major function of a traffic signal is to assign the way to avoid conflicting traffic movements at intersections. They do so by a method of time separation.
The other benefit of traffic signals is that they assign the right way to different traffic movements. Thus, they offer orderly movements of the conflicting flows. Sometimes they can interrupt heavy flows so that they permit crossing of minor movements. This allows for safe movements through intersections.
Traffic signals have been found to increase traffic handling capacity. They can be installed in different conditions, which justify their application. They are valuable devices that improve efficiency and safety of both vehicular and pedestrian traffic. In most cases, these devices reduce particular types of accidents such as broadside collisions.
Although a lot of people understand that traffic lights and signals reduce collisions at intersections, very few realize that these signals increase many other forms of accidents. For instance, it is documented that some types of accidents such as rear-end collisions increase signals installed.
Traffic engineers are comfortable with reduction of rear-end collisions on the increase of angle accidents that are severe. Also, unjustified traffic lights have been found to cause excessive delays, diversion of traffic to unnecessary alternate routes, and disobedience of signals.
The other disadvantage is that they are costly and may not represent a sound investment in justification. Modern signals cost taxpayers a lot of money for installation depending on features and complexity of the intersection. Moreover, there is a high cost of electrical power that is consumed to operate these lights 24 hours daily.
Effects of unjustified traffic lights
There is a widespread belief that these signals provide solutions to control traffic, and reduce accidents, you will find them installed nearly everywhere. They should be used only in areas that need lesser forms of control based on study data. When they are installed incorrectly, they can cause excessive delay. Also, a lot of drivers switch to alternate routes, which are less desirable. Others switch to use residential streets to avoid unnecessary delay.