Bristol City Council has expressed interest in switching traffic lights at some junctions to flashing amber – during quiet times – in order to cut congestion (this is Bristol).
The system is used in a number of European countries but this would be one of the first of its kind in the UK. Portsmouth City Council has already applied to the DfT to trail the scheme, but the DfT is first carrying out its own research.
Under the change, all the lights at a junction would be put on flashing amber at quiet times, for example at night. The idea is that amber rather than green encourages motorists to be cautious, but, unlike red lights, does not stop traffic flow unnecessarily.
Gary Hopkins, Bristol’s executive member for transport, said: “This could aid traffic flow at quieter times but should maintain safety.
"We have roundabouts and junctions where in quiet times drivers get understandably frustrated at hold ups but wiping out the lights altogether could lead motorists to be too overconfident. Current legislation does not allow for this but we will be watching developments very closely."
Andrew Howard, head of road safety at the AA, voiced caution, saying: “We have always liked the principle of the idea because it saves petrol and reduces CO2 emissions. What someone has to decide, however, is the priority at those junctions – who is going to give way to whom?
"The other problem is – when someone hits someone else and they both went through flashing amber – whose fault is it?"
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