Another entry for my book of ‘least surprising news announcements of all time’ (I don’t expect it to be a big seller, if I’m honest): it seems putting traffic lights on a roundabout doesn’t do very much at all to reduce the number of accidents.
Another entry for my book of ‘least surprising news announcements of all time’ (I don’t expect it to be a big seller, if I’m honest): it seems putting traffic lights on a roundabout doesn’t do very much at all to reduce the number of accidents writes Dave Burrows.
A report by the Highways Agency has revealed that accident numbers on the Emstrey and Dobbies islands in Shrewsbury are not significantly different from before the lights were installed.
It’s almost like, oh I don’t know, traffic islands and traffic lights serve the same purpose. It’s as though one is some kind of alternative to the other, and that both aren’t needed in the same place. I mean, I’m only looking at it from the outside, but I’m just saying that’s how it appears.
The Highways Agency said there were 14 accidents at the Emstrey roundabout between 2006 and lights being installed in 2009, and 10 between June 2009 and June 2011. I’ll help you out. That’s down by four. But over a shorter period. So, there’s still time, eh?
At Dobbies there were 21 accidents between 2005 and 2008, and 11 between 2008 and 2011. Fair dos, that’s a decent reduction, but it’s hardly setting the world alight now, is it?
Now, it appears that the powers that be want to make further changes at Emstrey because of ‘safety concerns’.
The problem, it seems, is that the lanes are too narrow, especially for lorries.
Now things have changed since I learned to drive. For one thing, cars don’t have that crank handle on the front any more. Or a bloke walking in front of them with a flag (has anyone considered re-introducing this as a way of lowering accident figures? I might start a Number 10 petition).
But when I was taking my driving lessons, roundabouts had two lanes - the left-hand lane was for (surprisingly) turning left. It was also for going straight on. The right-hand lane (you’re ahead of me, aren’t you?) was for turning right.
Emstrey has three lanes. So is it really that surprising that people think they are too narrow? Just put it back to two. Again, no civil engineer, me. I’m probably missing something.
The biggest problem that I’ve experienced on Emstrey (and given that I use it almost every day, I think I’m qualified to comment) is that some drivers either don’t understand, or don’t give two hoots about, the layout of the island. Some seem to struggle with the concept of a left-hand lane to turn left, a right-hand lane to turn right and a middle lane to go straight on. I admit, it’s confusing.
Others simply believe they can get in the wrong lane and out-accelerate the car inside them so they can overtake, saving themselves valuable minutes. Sorry, did I say minutes. I meant seconds.
Sadly, nothing can be done about these sets of people. They are both idiots. Fortunately they are in the vast minority. Most of us road-users know how to drive round a roundabout. We learn it quite early on. Which is why we know they don’t need traffic lights.