Use countdown timers at vehicular traffic lights

Currently, only the amber light in the traffic light system acts as a signal for drivers to be prepared to stop their vehicles at junctions and crossings (LTA acts to ease worries over some road crossings; Oct 16).

This is not sufficient.

Motorists are taught to slow down and prepare to stop if the lights turn amber before they reach the stop line, and to proceed if their vehicles have crossed the stop line when the lights turn amber.

However, there are problems with this in reality. As a driver, I am apprehensive whenever I approach a green traffic light because it is difficult to predict if the lights will turn amber.

Drivers face a dilemma if the lights turn amber when they are near the junction, as they have to choose whether to stop or to proceed.

Drivers often have to apply the emergency brakes to stop their cars before the stop line, as they do not have time to slow down, or speed through the junction before the light turns red.

These moves are dangerous and unnecessary.

It is also not feasible for drivers to slow down considerably when they approach a green light, as this will have a knock-on effect on the cars behind.

It is not good for drivers to have to speculate on the roads.

In Thailand, there are countdown timers fixed on the vehicular traffic lights and drivers are able to see the amount of time left before the lights change colour.

This is something the Land Transport Authority (LTA) can consider exploring, as drivers will then be able to judge from the timer whether there is enough time left to travel through the junction, or if they should slow down and prepare to stop.

Perhaps the LTA can consider a trial at selected junctions first.

If such timers can be implemented for pedestrian crossings, I do not see why they cannot be installed at vehicular traffic lights.

Sean Lim Wei Xin

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 23, 2017, with the headline 'Use countdown timers at vehicular traffic lights'. Print Edition | Subscribe