Torque Shop: Countdown timers at traffic lights

A file picture of a countdown timer that was at the junction of Rochor and North Bridge roads. PHOTO: ST FILE

Some countries have countdown timers at their traffic lights, which tell motorists how much time they have left before the lights turn. I feel this helps improve safety.

Such timers flash the number of seconds remaining before the lights turnred or green.

They can be useful in letting motorists know how much time they have to wait at a junction. They are good to have, but do not contribute to safety.

At signalised pedestrian crossings, timers also tell pedestrians how much time they have left to cross.

But at traffic junctions, a countdown to red might be a double-edged sword. It could encourage motorists to speed up to beat the lights, something which can pose substantial risks.

Hence in Singapore, the Land Transport Authority has chosen to use Advanced Warning Lights, which are at spots where motorists may be unable to see the traffic light from afar, for example, because of a bend or a slope.

These yellow lights start to flash when the traffic lights are about to change to amber and then red. There are around 100 such locations.

Warning lights aside, it is always a good practice to slow down - or at least, not accelerate - when one is approaching a junction.

This will prevent accidents involving others who beat the lights. It is better to be safe, than to save a couple of minutes or to assert one's right of way.

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