Report recommends switching off London’s traffic lights at night

12.00 | 4 November 2014 | | 7 comments

A new report suggests that, where it is deemed safe to do so, TfL and London’s Boroughs should turn off traffic lights across the capital between midnight and 6am.

The report, ‘Green Light: turning off London’s traffic lights at night’, is authored by Richard Tracey, transport spokesman for Greater London Authority (GLA) Conservatives.

However the London Assembly Labour Group says the suggestion is ‘reckless’ and would turn London’s roads into ‘after-dark death-traps’.

The report also says that TfL should, as a pilot, turn off traffic lights at 100 junctions during daytime off-peak hours. It also encourages London’s Boroughs to look for opportunities to do the same.

The report says: “Obviously not every junction could be turned off at night. Each junction will need to be assessed and those with very high night-time volumes of traffic, or other safety concerns, would not fit the criteria for this system.

“Nevertheless many of the junctions across London would be suited and this could help save millions of pounds of people’s time, but also fuel, emissions, and other operating costs. If even 80% of these junctions were suitable then savings of £10m a year could be made across London.”

Responding to the report on the LocalGov website, London Assembly Labour Group transport spokesperson, Val Shawcross, said: “London is a 24-hour city and many routes remain busy throughout the night. The idea that just because it’s not the middle of the day we should turn off traffic lights just to save a few pounds is utterly reckless.

“Only three years ago a Government report found that in other countries where this has been trialled accidents have tripled. Given the dangers faced on London’s streets as it is, this proposal risks making after-dark death-traps of our roads.”



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    I have often driven through such junctions in America, where lights slowly flash amber at quiet times of day, have never had a problem and have been pleased to avoid sitting waiting for green when there are no other vehicles. More importantly, dare I remind those so vehemently opposed to what is not a new idea, that the vast majority of junctions in all countries have no traffic lights at all, day or night? And surely the majority in London?

    Idris Francis Fight Back With Facts Petersfield
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    The item under is very enlightening (and amusing) on this subject.

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    I did not read anywhere that ALL traffic lights would be turned off in this proposal and I have toured Germany many times and in some rural areas it is common to be confronted with a flashing amber traffic light, it tells the driver they are on the secondary road and it is their responsibility to enter the main road with due care. Never had a problem and the system made perfect sense.

    Steve, London
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    Road junction with traffic lights at certain quiet hours during the night are just gas guzzlers so why not turn them off and allow traffic to travel unhindered? As someone said on this forum some time ago, when lights are out drivers do take more care and if used correctly like a roundabout, giving way to traffic approaching from the right, there should be no problem. Providing all obey this principle and drivers slow accordingly, a motorcycle ridden defensively should not encounter any greater danger.

    bob craven Lancs
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    Madness. Bearing in mind the implications of the Road Death Investigation Manual, I wouldn’t expect any paid officer or elected member to want to take the decision to switch-off. Hasn’t anyone told the authors of this report that signals respond to demand anyway, so off-peak with less traffic, waiting times should be less anyway.

    Hugh Jones, Cheshire
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    I have come across quieter junctions in the US where some signals go to a flashing amber and operate in a 4 stop/giveway which they favour and are used to in the US. I fear that introducing it in the early hours will be a disaster. I for one used to work nights and police roads, I even used to treat a green signal as a caution at certain junctions at night!

    Olly, Lancs
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    This is a great idea with many potential benefits such as:
    1 Lower carbon emissions (from the traffic lights and almost all vehicles)
    2 Improved road safety (particularly for pedestrians and cyclists)
    3 lower journey times
    4 boost to the economy
    5 reduce traffic congestion

    But there may be disadvantages:
    1 worse road safety (particularly for motorcyclists)

    It is imperative to find out what effect switching off traffic lights has on road safety therefore the experiment must be performed within scientific trials.

    Dave Finney, Slough
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