back to article Traffic lights worldwide set to change after Swedish engineer saw red over getting a ticket

A Swedish engineer's umbrage at a traffic ticket has led to a six-year legal fight and now a global change in the speed with which traffic light signals are timed. After Mats Järlström lost an initial legal challenge in 2014, a federal judge in January this year ruled Oregon's rules prohibiting people from representing …

  1. alain williams Silver badge

    Show this to the Mexican police

    they have a reputation for manually 'adjusting' the timing, snapping a 'red light infringement' - which they then, graceously, offer to expunge in exchange for a 'donation' to said officers.

    On second though: this would change nothing at all.

    1. Korev Silver badge
      Stop

      Re: Show this to the Mexican police

      The same thing applies in the UK only it's official... If you pay up a speeding or traffic light ticket then they offer a discount if you're good and pay up; if you'd like to dispute it and go to court then you get walloped with a big fine if found guilty.

      The alternative is to just obey the rules -->

      1. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

        Re: Show this to the Mexican police

        The alternative is to just obey the rules

        But the whole point is that the rules are broken.

        1. Kiwi Silver badge
          Holmes

          Re: Show this to the Mexican police

          The alternative is to just obey the rules

          But the whole point is that the rules are broken.

          Not really. How many people were getting caught out like the protagonist, vs how many were completing their turn within the allotted time?

          In NZ you go through the amber only if you're to close to stop safely, at least legally. If you're doing a turn like the one described, chances are pretty good you were going slow and could see well enough (athough I don't know the intersection in question and do know a few where the lights aren't well-visible to someone who is looking in the correct places in the last moments before they enter the intersection).

          Unless the timer is faulty and short-changes you (vs the normal timing), you shouldn't be in the intersection when the light is red at all. If you are, you screwed up.

      2. Velv Silver badge
        FAIL

        Re: Show this to the Mexican police

        "The same thing applies in the UK only it's official"

        Not quite, The cash isn't going in the officers pocket in the UK, is it! Or are you aware of a force in the UK where you can pay tickets "on the spot, in cash".

        1. werdsmith Silver badge

          Re: Show this to the Mexican police

          That will be what was meant by the "it's official" bit.

          1. 's water music Silver badge

            Re: Show this to the Mexican police

            That will be what was meant by the "it's official" bit.

            Which raises the question what was meant by "the same". Perhaps it is opposite day

            1. Robert Grant

              Re: Show this to the Mexican police

              Might be worth reading the text after the ellipsis.

              1. 's water music Silver badge

                Re: Show this to the Mexican police

                that was rather my point

              2. phuzz Silver badge

                Re: Show this to the Mexican police

                Might be worth reading the definition of the word "bribe".

                1. Kiwi Silver badge

                  Re: Show this to the Mexican police

                  Might be worth reading the definition of the word "bribe".

                  Something I could never ever bring myself to do...

                  But mostly because I doubt I'd ever have the money and hope I'd never be in a situation serious enough :)

                  1. phuzz Silver badge

                    Re: Show this to the Mexican police

                    "Something I could never ever bring myself to do..."

                    It's only about four lines, even for a slow reader that's barely ten seconds.

                    1. Kiwi Silver badge
                      Facepalm

                      Re: Show this to the Mexican police

                      "Something I could never ever bring myself to do..."

                      It's only about four lines, even for a slow reader that's barely ten seconds.

                      If you're read my next line you'd have realised my post was about the word "bribe" (something a slow reader could do in about 2.5 seconds :) )

                2. diver_dave

                  Re: Show this to the Mexican police

                  Woebetide you being on the Tulum to Cancun road on a Saturday morning.

                  The amount of hire cars pulled on their way to the airport is astounding.

                  Of course. Quick donation required to a trapped motorist rushing to catch a flight.

        2. ovation1357

          Re: Show this to the Mexican police

          However... And someone is welcome to fact check this in case my memory is wrong..

          I'm fairly certain that I read that if you pay the 'discounted' fine then the money goes straight into the coffers of the 'prosecuting' force whereas if it goes to court and you're found guilty they any money from a fine will go to the national treasury.

          This, I believe, is why you receive a NIP (Notice of Intended Prosecution) - i.e. they intend to prosecute you but if you pay them off directly without causing them all the time and cost of prosecuting you then they'll drop the matter (albeit with a mechanism to issue penalty points on your license as well), and they'll (allegedly) invest that money into their own road safety budget.

          1. Westie

            Re: Show this to the Mexican police

            If you're referring to diversionary courses, then roughly £35 goes to the prosecuting force, £5 or so to the organisation owned by NPCC (council of Chief Constables) and the rest to the companies hosting the venue and providing educational material.

            It's bribery, and I don't know how anyone hasn't cottoned onto it before.

            1. Kiwi Silver badge
              Coat

              Re: Show this to the Mexican police

              It's bribery, and I don't know how anyone hasn't cottoned onto it before.

              It's only bribery if it's not officially sanctioned. If it's official, then it's fine...

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Show this to the Mexican police

          West Midlands

      3. Rattlerjake

        Re: Show this to the Mexican police

        Maybe you should do some research into the legality of those redlight cameras.

        1. Kiwi Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          Re: Show this to the Mexican police

          Maybe you should do some research into the legality of those redlight cameras.

          NOT YET! I'm outta popcorn...

          I love watching governments/principalities backpedal when someone does just that, and finds out things they've been handing out tickets for are illegal.

          While you're at it, keep an eye out for camera vans etc, and check up on what parking rules they have to follow. If it's like over here, they're private citizens thus have to be absolutely legally parked otherwise their tickets are invalid (of course, it's up to each individual victimdriver to know the ticket is invalid and challenge it). All sorts of fun can be had by knowing the law and challenging infringements by the criminal bulliescops, camera operators, parking wardens etc.

      4. Tom 35 Silver badge

        The alternative is to just obey the rules -->

        Quite a few places have shortened yellow light times for the purpose of making money from red light cameras. You could be driving the speed limit, be beyond the point where you could safely stop, and not have a long enough yellow to clear the light. Your choices are slam on the brakes and get rear ended, or get a ticket.

        http://www.shortyellowlights.com/

        Toronto was offered a deal to receive free red light cameras all the had to do was share revenue and have a short yellow. It was blocked because the short yellow would not survive a court challenge.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Devil

      Re: Show this to the Mexican police

      Come to sunny Malvern, the majority of the lights in the down go red before you have a chance to cross the junction.

      I have SEEN the green light turn to amber when already a 1/4 the way through the junction, and still not made it out the other side before the light turned red.

      On one particularly dangerous "T" junction, the green light one way, and the red light the other way switch at the same instant, and with the stop line a fair way back to allow HGV to turn, a car/van/lorry may be coming out AS you start going forwards.

      I say "may", it happens regularly, I have even reported it as dangerous twice, but no action has been taken.

      1. Muscleguy Silver badge

        Re: Show this to the Mexican police

        Here at the bottom of the hill there's a crossroads with lights. The pedestrian signal goes with all cars stopped so you can diagonally cross if you want. It comes after the cross traffic (across the main road) is stopped. The green man doesn't come on for some seconds after the lights change because people come flying down the hill and turn.

        I've stood there and watched cars fly through blatant red lights, yet there are no red light cameras.

      2. Darren Forster

        Re: Show this to the Mexican police

        I live not to far from Malvern in Ludlow, been there a few times not seen any problems with the lights there.

        The only thing I would say is that when learning to drive I was alway taught an important rule - if turning right make sure there are no more than two cars in front of you before crossing the stop line. If there are two cars waiting to turn right, wait behind the stop line (no matter how far back that stop line is). The two cars should have plenty of time then to clear the junction before the lights change, but more than two and one is likely to get stranded in the junction.

        The other thing that most people seem to forget (and I work with traffic at events doing traffic management - I've seen it happen so many times) is that the law is on the stop line nowhere else.

        If you are on the other side of the stop line and it changes to red KEEP GOING!!! Do not suddenly think oh it's red I will stop, the official law is that when a light is red you must stop before the stop line - if your front tyres are over the stop line when the light turns red you are beyond the point where you have to stop and so should keep going. If you do stop and you are positioned over the stop line then you will be obstructing the junction, which actually to stop in the middle of a traffic junction is also against the law, especially if it's a boxed junction - which also some people need to learn about - I know some people use the excuse that if the boxed junction isn't properly marked, like the paint has faded but is just visible then it's not legal - this may be true, but when that massive articulated lorry (or if you're in Manchester a metro tram!) takes out your car and kills you 'cos you're sat in a box junction you can rest in peace easily knowing that the paint wasn't right - just remember those box junctions aren't just painted for fun, they are there for safety, and regardless of whether or not they've faded and "not legal" they should still be adhered to. The only time you're allowed to stop in a box junction in the UK is if you're turning right and are being blocked by oncoming vehicles (of course in countries like mainland Europe where they drive on the opposite side of the road that would be left).

        The other thing is if you're coming to a set of temporary lights remember again as with a stop line - you don't stop at the light - you stop at the sign which states "Wait Here Until Green Light Is Shown" or "Wait Here Whilst Red Light Is Shown" as that is where the instruction is not at the traffic light itself (or in some cases it's certainly not at the traffic engineer - yeah I've seen someone roll up to us in their car, go beyond the traffic light and the sign and then wind their window down and ask us if we could tell them if the light is on green - no we can't when we're behind the light we can see just as much as they can, and if they're on automatic or being controlled by someone else we certainly can't see the light!) - also pay attention to whether the signage says green light or red light 'cos if it says red light you can start moving once the light turns from red to amber, but if it says green light you're supposed to wait to proceed until the green light shows - the green light board is normally used at multi-junctions where merging traffic is not signal controlled to give traffic in the side streets/driveways chance to clear the junction when the lights change.

        1. ChrisC

          Re: Show this to the Mexican police

          "the official law is that when a light is red you must stop before the stop line - if your front tyres are over the stop line when the light turns red you are beyond the point where you have to stop and so should keep going."

          No you shouldn't. You commit an offence if you allow *any* part of your vehicle to proceed beyond the stop line when the red light is showing, so unless *all* of your vehicle has crossed the line at the point when the red light comes on then you need to stop.

          "also pay attention to whether the signage says green light or red light 'cos if it says red light you can start moving once the light turns from red to amber, but if it says green light you're supposed to wait to proceed until the green light shows"

          Are you *really* a UK-based traffic engineer? Where, on a public road in the UK, would a driver encounter a set of traffic lights which change from showing only red to showing only amber? The actual sequence is red -> red+amber -> green, so regardless of what the wording on the sign says, you wait for the green light before you can proceed, otherwise you're still guilty of driving through a red light.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Show this to the Mexican police

          Darren Forster

          I agree with everything you say other than your two car rule. The Highway Code tells us not to enter a junction/yellow box junction unless the exit is clear.

          Unambiguous, and eliminates the judgement needed to assess if two or more cars can fit into the available space beyond the junction.

          1. AndyD 8-)₹

            Re: Show this to the Mexican police

            "The Highway Code tells us not to enter a junction/yellow box junction unless the exit is clear." ... unless you are turning right - OK

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Show this to the Mexican police

          Sit and watch the lights in the link, by the Texaco garage, and the lights along Pickersliegh road at the junction with Townsend way.

          On the latter, you may also catch people (especially the Post Office vans), ignoring the "No Left Turn sign coming out of Hayslan road and scattering the pedestrians crossing on THEIR green light.

        4. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Show this to the Mexican police

          I'm an Audi Q7 driver. Does any of the above apply to me?

          1. Chris 239
            Joke

            Re: Show this to the Mexican police

            Of course they do you ass whole!

            Every one knows you have to drive BMW to have the special rules! ;-)

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    But not for long.....

    ....because when all traffic lights (and connected traffic cameras) get hooked up to 5G and IPv6 and IoT software....

    ....the timing of your average traffic light will be controlled by script kiddies in Croatia!!!!

    1. LDS Silver badge

      Re: But not for long.....

      I don't know if I have to fear more the Croatian kids or the Facebook/Google AI that will try to run them...

    2. Ragarath

      Re: But not for long.....

      Ahh, I was all for the buzzword bingo and nearly completed my card but you left out the all important AI which was the last one I needed.

      1. Weiss_von_Nichts

        Re: But not for long.....

        ...or the Facebook/Google AI that will run them from the Blockchain.

        FTFY.

        1. M man

          Re: But not for long.....

          ... In space.

          1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge
            Joke

            Re: But not for long.....

            ..Spacebook!

      2. Avatar of They
        Thumb Up

        Re: But not for long.....

        Nah. Can't be, there wasn't 'Agile', 'digital transformation' or 'Journey.'

    3. vtcodger Silver badge

      Re: But not for long.....

      If current trends hold, the yellow delay on internet connected traffic lights will crease at 1.013 sec/yr as the traffic lights send increasingly detailed images of you, your vehicle, and everything on the seats to Google, Facebook, and Amazon. That's on top of the existing CIA/NSA delays and the packet delay time to Croatia.

      Do not be surprised when ads for car washes and auto repair shops start appearing in your email and instant messages. The only way to avoid those will be to keep the exterior of your vehicle in pristine condition.

      1. Mark 85 Silver badge

        Re: But not for long.....

        The only way to avoid those will be to keep the exterior of your vehicle in pristine condition.

        Won't work. I took the car to the local car wash place and then on my way out, decided to top off the tank in preparation for a road trip. Pulled into the local gas station, it has one of the small automatic washes. First thing the gas pump jockey asked was "would you like your car washed today?" before even asking about how much fuel. The car was still dripping water for <deity> sake.

        1. heyrick Silver badge

          Re: But not for long.....

          "The car was still dripping water for <deity> sake."

          They're not paid to think...

          1. Muscleguy Silver badge

            Re: But not for long.....

            it might be worse, they might get a disciplinary if they DON'T push the carwash to EVERYBODY regardless.

      2. Tom 35 Silver badge

        Re: But not for long.....

        keep the exterior of your vehicle in pristine condition.

        If it's face book, they will give you car wash ads right after you get your car washed. If you buy a new car you will get ads for the same model.

    4. Platypus

      Re: But not for long.....

      Why would they bother changing the timing on lights when they can just crash your car directly?

      1. veti Silver badge

        Re: But not for long.....

        It's more sporting that way.

        Directly taking control of someone's car is only 1 point per violation you can get them to commit. But indirectly causing crashes through messing with road infrastructure, that's 2 points per vehicle you can get into the pileup. (Plus 3 points for an abandonment or towaway, 5 points for bursting into flames.)

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Boffin

      Re: But not for long.....

      Many, MANY years ago, for a laugh, we tried to model Worcester City's traffic lights, to see if there was any possible way of driving through the city on the main routes without hitting a red light.

      Now, they HAVE changed the timings since then, and several new sets of lights are synced in such a way as to make it impossible.

      However, at that time (mid 80's); we found an answer.

      94MPH.

  3. Blockchain commentard Silver badge

    How about adding another light? Green = go, amber = go on, chance it (as it is nowadays), blue = no really, slow down and red = stop. Now, where do I pick up my Nobel prize?

    1. SW

      Go with the railway signal system.

      Red / Amber / Double Amber / Green

      1. Korev Silver badge
        Coat

        What'd be the points in that though if we had to switch

        Do I get bonus points for puns in English and American "English"?

        1. spold Bronze badge

          >English and American "English"

          I prefer the terms "Proper English" and "Colonial English" - it covers more circumstances and annoys more people.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Pint

            Traditional English and SIMPLIFIED English REALLY gets them pissed.

          2. Jerrky

            Brilliant

          3. Long John Brass Silver badge
            Headmaster

            "Proper English" and "Colonial English"

            As a colonial that uses te correct form of her Maj's English; I would object to that!

            It's only the USians that have bastardized the rules. We play cricket (badly) here goddammit!

            1. John Savard Silver badge

              Re: "Proper English" and "Colonial English"

              I live in Canada, where we largely use the form of English spoken by our cousins to the south, even if we occasionally spell the language in writing in the proper fashion rather than in the simplified manner prescribed by Noah Webster. (Of course, he wasn't a patch on James Murray, but that's another question.)

      2. Pete4000uk

        Like the railways lights, but with double amber first (fail safe)

      3. Citizens untied

        Actually not a bad idea, the yellow could flash at decreasing intervals until solid - solid means one more second...

        1. HotScot

          Citizens untied

          That would nicely confuse a regular set of traffic lights with pedestrian lights where flashing amber means drivers can go when the crossing is free of pedestrians.

        2. Benson's Cycle

          Don't the Chinese have lights with a countdown?

    2. Alister Silver badge

      In the UK, the law is quite clear: Green = go, Amber = stop, Red = stop. Sadly, very few drivers adhere to this, and instead treat Amber as "keep going if you think you can get away with it" or "set off before the green light".

      1. LDS Silver badge

        Amber = stop

        Stop if you can do it safely....

        1. Mike 137 Bronze badge

          Re: Amber = stop

          In practice it means "stamp on the gas to get over before it turns red". Lengthening the amber time will just save a bit of fuel, but I guess that's good for the planet.

          1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

            Re: Amber = stop

            As Jeff Bridges in "Starman" said, "Red - stop, green - go, orange - go faster".

      2. fnusnu

        Not quite

        AMBER means ‘Stop’ at the stop line. You may go on only if the AMBER appears after you have crossed the stop line or are so close to it that to pull up might cause an accident

        https://www.highwaycodeuk.co.uk/light-signals-controlling-traffic.html

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Not quite

          And this rule allows you to be from 23 to 73 metres away (depends on speed limit) from the junction when the light goes amber to carry on through it.

          1. Wicked Witch

            Re: Not quite

            AIUI you can go to court and argue that you couldn't safely stop even beyond that, but unless the magistrate really likes you that's just going to end up with you getting penalised for driving without due care and attention (going too fast for the conditions) or driving an unroadworthy vehicle (ie one that can't brake).

        2. LDS Silver badge

          Re: Not quite

          It means exactly "you can stop safely" - you have to be able to stop safely at the line without causing an accident braking too hard *or* being unable to stop properly and find yourself in the middle of the intersection - which depends on your distance, speed, road conditions (rain, snow...) and other factors.

          Just like the drivers from the other direction must ensure the intersection is clear and safe before starting even if they have a green light.

          1. Drew Scriver Bronze badge

            Re: Not quite

            In the US, it depends on the state what a driver must/should do or not do when the light changes to amber.

            The Virginia traffic code, for instance, states that one should stop only if it is *not* safe to continue. Quite the opposite of other states. Curiously, the Virginia (government-issues) driving manual has this wrong. It also refers to the middle light as "yellow", which legally speaking is also incorrect.

            For those who are interested:

            ------------------------

            § 46.2-833. Traffic lights; penalty.

            Steady amber indicates that a change is about to be made in the direction of the moving of traffic. When the amber signal is shown, traffic which has not already entered the intersection, including the crosswalks, shall stop if it is not reasonably safe to continue, but traffic which has already entered the intersection shall continue to move until the intersection has been cleared.

            ------------------------

            To make it even more interesting, law enforcement officers often are also unfamiliar with this specific clause.

            To be clear, I am not offering legal advice so don't come after me if an officer disagrees with me (and the law). Some advice you should follow: do accept any ticket for "running a yellow light" - but do also exercise your right to fight it in court.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Not quite

              In my area they have discovered a great way to reduce accidents at intersections while still keeping ticket number up. They have set the lights so that when the light goes red, there is a delay of a few seconds before the crossing traffic lights go green. That way, you can run a changing light, avoid someone pulling out at the first of the green, and still get a ticket for your efforts.

            2. Jaybus

              Re: Not quite

              Well, in the US it is slightly different for each state. There was a big fight over the red light cameras in my state (Tennessee). In 2014 the state legislature passed a law clarifying what constitutes a red light violation and added the following to the law that defines a red light violation (T.C.A. § 55-8-110 ):

              (e) It is not a violation of subdivision (a)(3), unless the front tires of a vehicle cross the stop line after the signal is red.

              Sometime afterward, a judge ruled that:

              1) The camera system in question only showed the vehicle in the intersection while the light was red, so was therefore incapable of determining if the front tires crossed the line before or after the red light was switched on as required by subsection (e).

              2) It is a violation for the driver, but not for the owner, and the camera system does not identify the driver.

              As a result, locations in Tennessee still have the camera systems and still issue tickets, but they cannot prosecute anyone who doesn't pay up. They still operate them, in other words, knowing that they can extort money out of the uninformed. Many (most?) people in Tennessee now just ignore the tickets and don't pay.

              No doubt they are still in operation because people from other states driving through Tennessee don't know this tidbit of information that certainly didn't make national news. They certainly are not going to travel back to Tennessee to appear in court, so they just send in the money.

              So, this story is a very good example of why an engineer should not attempt to be a lawyer. He's spent considerably time and energy showing mathematically that the amber light period should be increased, whereas a lawyer, not to be bothered with such things, would simply argue that the camera doesn't prove who was driving the car or that the car's front tires crossed the line in violation of the law.

              Disclaimer: Both the law and the attitude of judges may be vastly different in Oregon than in Tennessee.

              1. Kiwi Silver badge

                Re: Not quite

                2) It is a violation for the driver, but not for the owner, and the camera system does not identify the driver.

                As a result, locations in Tennessee still have the camera systems and still issue tickets, but they cannot prosecute anyone who doesn't pay up.

                NZ found a simple way around that. It is the responsibility of the owner of the vehicle to make sure the fine is paid. If they choose to ID the driver then the driver pays, otherwise it's the responsibility. It's the same with speed camera infringements and parking infringements.

                There are several outs of course, one is to reasonable prove your vehicle could not have been involved, another to prove you no longer own it. For parking or speed camera ones, the speed camera vehicles must be fully legally parked (and same for police cars pulling you over last I knew), and the parking people must also be doing their job properly. If you can show any number of faults (sometimes just asking when the speed camera was last calibrated is enough) then you get off.

                We take red light infringements a bit more seriously over here it seems, perhaps part of why our per capita road toll is much lower than much of the US (having minimum standards for vehicles also helps a lot I think :) ) But we have only a couple of RL cams in the country as far as I know, only one in the Wellington region.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Not quite

          "[...] after you have crossed the stop line or are so close to it that to pull up might cause an accident"

          When I learned to drive in the UK in the 1960s - traffic lights were triggered by a rubber sensor strip. These were a few metres before the stop line. The general rule was that if the lights turned amber after you had crossed the sensor - then you should keep going. Presumably there was a standard distance for the strip's position.

          1. Muscleguy Silver badge

            Re: Not quite

            They had those and weight sensors embedded in the road to trigger the green light in NZ. They used it at side road entrances at night. So essentially the main road lights were always green unless there was a vehicle on the side road.

            EXCEPT my motorbike wasn't heavy enough to trigger one. So I put it on the stand and went and pressed the pedestrian button for the main road, went back got on my bike, restarted it and the light went green.

            Now everywhere uses cameras though I expect somewhere in NZ the weight sensors are still in use. I remember using a payphone in Kaikoura back in the '80s. No dial just a handle to turn. You lifted the handset, turned the handle and talked to the operator.

            1. blcollier

              Re: Not quite

              One of the roads on a previous commute used sensors in the road for a right turn. All the other lights were all on a rotating sequence, but the right-turn filter would only go green if the road sensor interrupted the sequence. My motorbike wasn't heavy enough to trigger the sensor either... Usually I'd get lucky and I'd be behind other cars that would trigger the sensor, but every now and then I'd be at the head of the (rapidly growing) queue. I'd have to roll forward over the line and let the car behind me drive forward on to the sensor.

              1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

                Re: Not quite

                afaik the embedded road sensors for lights are just induction loops. If you're riding with a buddy, make sure you stop side by side within the tar-banded area denoting the sensor :)

              2. Kiwi Silver badge
                Pint

                Re: Not quite

                but every now and then I'd be at the head of the (rapidly growing) queue. I'd have to roll forward over the line and let the car behind me drive forward on to the sensor.

                Experienced that way too many times myself.

                More annoying, when the cager behind sat where they were and didn't roll forward, despite me doing my best to wave my arms and direct them closer.

                (Also note these days, especially around our larger cities, cagers tend to stop short of the line leaving space for a couple of lane-splitting riders to move in front - quite appreciate it thanks folks!)

            2. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

              Re: Not quite

              Now everywhere uses cameras

              No, they use inductive detector loops embedded in the pavement.

              1. ChrisC

                Re: Not quite

                "No, they use inductive detector loops embedded in the pavement."

                Or even in the carriageway - left/right side pondian English isn't short of confusing terminology, but pavement/sidewalk and pavement/carriageway must surely rank up there as also being one of the more dangerously confusing ones...

                "Welcome to the UK, please remember to walk on the pavement"

                and

                "Welcome to the USA, please remember to drive on the pavement"

                1. MJB7 Silver badge

                  Re: Pavement

                  There was a competition once for most complete American/British confusion. The winner was:

                  Scene: A British uncle taking his American nieces and nephews for a walk in Florida.

                  What they heard him say: "Get in the middle of the road, there's a parakeet coming!"

                  What he *should* have said: "Get on the sidewalk, there's a truck coming"

                  What he *actually* said: "Get on the pavement, there's a lorry* coming"

                  * Lorry, misheard as lori, short for lorikeet.

                2. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

                  Re: Not quite

                  I use the word in the road engineering context. The road surface is the pavement. That one was presumably driven by the seppos.

                  We also call the black stuff "asphalt concrete", just to cause additional confusion.

              2. Kiwi Silver badge
                Black Helicopters

                Re: Not quite

                Now everywhere uses cameras

                No, they use inductive detector loops embedded in the pavement.

                A lot of our lights in NZ use cameras (not sure if monitored) or other pole-mounted sensors (PIR perhaps?) instead of the induction loops. Some lights have both, though whether they're used in parallel, used to back each other up, or used because one set has failed and it was cheaper to put the other set in I don't know. We also have sensors for approaching emergency vehicles (cameras that pick up the flashing red or blue lights - tempted to see if other lights trigger them but must note it's illegal to have forward-facing red lights (flashing or otherwise) attached to your vehicle - is it OK if my passenger is holding their phone up and it has something flashing on the screen? :) )

            3. Kiwi Silver badge

              Re: Not quite

              Now everywhere uses cameras though I expect somewhere in NZ the weight sensors are still in use. I remember using a payphone in Kaikoura back in the '80s. No dial just a handle to turn. You lifted the handset, turned the handle and talked to the operator.

              For quite some time they've been magnetic sensors, though something else may be needed if cars use a lot less iron in them (or makers could just put some magnets on them). For some bikes, a trick was to kill your engine then hit the starter, the EMF from the starter being enough to trip the sensor. Mostly these days they're pretty good. Many of the lights work both on timer and sensor, with timings changing due to peak traffic etc. I also understand that some of the lights have sensors further up the road to detect the size of the queue, and I've heard rumours that where cameras are used to monitor traffic, there's options to over-ride a particular set of lights briefly to get more traffic through.

              I got off a ticket once for going through a light (caught by a mufti cop). I'd been there for some time (>5 minutes) with no change so, as the lights clearly weren't going to change I could 1) walk my bike across the motorway (this was the Ngarunga Gorge/Newlands intersection before the bridge was built), 2) do a U-Turn and drive the wrong way up the hill (was an island or some other divider there for the first few metres) or 3, as it was after 10pm and there was no traffic and long visibility do exactly what I did, turn left (so not crossing paths), go done the hill and cross at another intersection and come back up. Overall my option was safest. Waikanae was another notorius one as often the sensors wouldn't work at all, and only options were either go through the lights or go over the Akatarawa road and come through another way (hour or more round trip through some very interesting road)

              Said mufti cop wouldn't have been going anywhere if I didn't do that anyway, unless they also broke the law by going the wrong way in a (short) 1 way area.

      3. A Non e-mouse Silver badge
        Facepalm

        At one junction on my commute, a Red traffic light appears to mean "Beware of other people may think they have right of way"

        1. rnturn

          Re: Right of way?

          Around here, I'm firmly convinced that most people behind the wheel don't even understands the concept of "right of way". If they've ever heard of it.

          1. heyrick Silver badge

            Re: Right of way?

            Around here (rural France), "right of way" usually means "get the hell out of my way", with the winner of that being whichever vehicle is larger and/or more aggressively driven; unless it was a family car aggressing a tractor, you can guess which one would win.

            It's also helped immensely by having an actual "right of way" rule (in towns, or where you see a yellow lozenge with a black bar through it). Tiny nothing road joining into a main road? Guess who has priority. Yup, the paved farm track. And to, you get people happily pulling straight out in front of oncoming cars because if those cars crash, it's their fault, not the fault of the idiot that pulled out into oncoming traffic.

            Just remember this, should you find yourself driving in rural France...

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Right of way?

              A NASCAR driver was out late one night with a friend from out of town, and ran a red light. His friend protested, and he said "don't worry, no traffic right now and all the cops know my car". So he ran another red, and another. But at the next intersection the light turned green just as he was about to go through, and he slammed on the brakes, almost throwing his friend into the dashboard. "What the **** are you doing?, his startled friend exclaimed.

              "I had to stop, my brother might have been coming the other way!"

            2. KBeee

              Re: Right of way?

              It doesn't help that some roundabouts in France have right of way when you're on them, and other roundabouts have right of way when you approach them.

        2. phuzz Silver badge
          Stop

          In the UK the highway code only talks about "priority", there's no such thing as "right of way" in UK motoring.

          The only time the words appear is in this sentence:

          "The rules in The Highway Code do not give you the right of way in any circumstance, but they advise you when you should give way to others." (emph mine)

          1. Kiwi Silver badge
            Headmaster

            "The rules in The Highway Code do not give you the right of way in any circumstance, but they advise you when you should give way to others." (emph mine)

            That's actually an intelligent way of doing it.

            We're starting to see millennials/whatever the next group are called who see something as a 'basic privilege' as beyond 'inalienable right', so you can imagine what they're getting like with things given as a right (actually, you probably have much the same over your ways :( ). Wording something as a 'right of way" means people will assume that whatever else, they can go and 'magic' will make them safe. If not, they'll surely survive and can do whatever they imagine to the other party.

            Sad thing is, people make mistakes, and sometimes those mistakes involve not spotting a situation where you're supposed to stop or slow down.

            I wonder if NZ courts have ever convicted someone of 'careless driving' even though they legally had the 'right of way'? Thinking of a situation where they went through an intersection where it was clear that other traffic wasn't going to stop in time (our road code used to say 'slow down and be prepared to stop even if you have the ROW' but I note there's no mention of "ROW" in there now, and other related texts have little to no reference to that phrase, most now refer to "car B must give way" where they used to say "car A has the right of way").

            1. phuzz Silver badge

              "We're starting to see millennials/whatever the next group are called who see something as a 'basic privilege' as beyond 'inalienable right'"

              Citation needed. I see no evidence that human beings are getting any more or less 'over-privileged', just the usual inter-generational complaining.

              1. Kiwi Silver badge

                "We're starting to see millennials/whatever the next group are called who see something as a 'basic privilege' as beyond 'inalienable right'"

                Citation needed. I see no evidence that human beings are getting any more or less 'over-privileged', just the usual inter-generational complaining.

                How DARE you assume my generational identity! (gender/gender identity, sexuality, sexuality identity, race, race identity, hairstyle, hairstyle identity etc etc etc).

                Perhaps, if you was to open your eyes a wee bit more and look around a wee bit more, you might see that there is a hell of stuff going on. Remember when you was a lad and your start in the workforce involved a lot of tea making and floor sweeping? Ever tried to get anyone born after 1995 to even work on starting wages, let alone doing stuff like that? Tried asking them to put their phone down during work hours and actually do the job they're paid to do? Tried to fire one for failing to do the work they're allotted, or failing to utilise correct safety gear?

                Quite surprised you've seen so little of the world and how many act today. Hell, just look at the articles on El Reg about people moaning about tech companies and things like their names, or what organisations members of their boards support etc etc etc.

      4. Kevin Johnston

        Pedant alert

        Green actually means 'You may proceed if it is safe to do so'

        1. heyrick Silver badge

          Re: Pedant alert

          "You may proceed if it is safe to do so"

          Here (in France) sometimes the traffic lights go to blinking amber which means that. The only times I've seen this are late at night when ALL of the lights are blinking amber (whee! free for all!).

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Pedant alert

            "Here (in France) sometimes the traffic lights go to blinking amber which means that."

            I first met that in the 1970s. Unsure what to do - the horn of the car behind soon made my mind up.

            IIRC areas of Scandinavia had the same system - where junctions had flashing amber in the quieter hours of the night.

          2. DJapan

            Re: Pedant alert

            Not free for all, but you may proceed if it is safe to do so.

            Please educate yourself about driving rules around the world.

            1. heyrick Silver badge

              Re: Pedant alert

              Downvoted because driving rules don't reflect driving reality. Either that, or you've not met rural Frenchies in this situation.

              I'll tell you another one that's fun. The highway divided into three lanes. Us, Them, and Let's Play Chicken.

              1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

                Re: Pedant alert

                @heyrick: "The highway divided into three lanes. Us, Them, and Let's Play Chicken.

                I know the centre lane on those roads as "suicide lanes" (left side, right side, sui-side). Until recently, I thought they had all been removed in Britain, to be replaced with two lanes in one direction separated by dotted lines (usually going uphill), and one lane in the other direction separated from the middle lane by double solid white lines. However, I came across a few remaining suicide lanes over the summer, which surprised me.

          3. ThomH

            Re: Pedant alert

            Here in my adoptive US they have two such unusual settings: flashing amber means what it appears to mean in France, and what it means in the UK on a pelican crossing, and flashing red means to treat the light as if it were a stop sign.

            The main other thing I found surprising: red jumps straight to green — there's no red + amber stage, or any other warning. To the point that they often put up "delayed green" warning signs if they don't want people trying to infer a pending green based on other traffic. I speculate it's because the cars are overwhelmingly automatics and therefore everybody sits there in gear with their ordinary brake on rather than using the handbrake, reducing the time it takes to drive away (and significantly decreasing total visibility at night if you're at the back of a long queue of static traffic with brake lights blaring the whole way along).

            1. GerryMC

              Re: Pedant alert

              New Zealand also has the straight red to green transition, as has as far back as I remember (1960s), when almost all cars were manual transmission.

              Maybe we bought our gear from the USA.

              1. Kiwi Silver badge
                Trollface

                Re: Pedant alert

                Maybe we bought our gear from the USA.

                Does that include our politicians spines, or lack thereof? :)

            2. John Savard Silver badge

              Re: Pedant alert

              Here in Canada, red goes straight to green; I hadn't even been aware traffic lights anywhere worked in any other way. Among other things, green requires that your car is capable of moving before you go through the intersection. And of course you should not proceed if it is unsafe to do so at any time, but green indicates that it is likely to be safe if the other drivers are following the rules.

          4. Dr_N Silver badge

            Re: Pedant alert

            "whee! free for all!”

            If you look more closely you'll find there will be small "Give Way" signs on the traffic light posts for one of the crossroads to indicate who has priority in a flashing amber situation.

            I am always surprised by the number of longterm expats who don't know the rules in France.

            Brexit'll fix that as they'll have to take the French driving test after years of holding on to their UK licence. I say good luck with that what with not speaking French...

          5. Alan Newbury
            Go

            Re: Pedant alert

            Australia has a similar system. If the lights are blinking amber, treat the intersection as a roundabout

            1. Charles 9 Silver badge

              Re: Pedant alert

              The way I understand it, in most jurisdictions, flashing lights are normally "fallback" lights in case the normal system isn't working right (such as the lights coming back from a power failure).

              * Flashing red is to be treated like a STOP sign; you MUST come to a full and complete stop before making any further action.

              * Flashing amber is to be treated like a YIELD/GIVE WAY sign; you MAY proceed only when it is clearly safe to do so.

              * Often if an intersection is flashing because of a "safe mode," the higher-priority road gets the flashing amber while the other gets the flashing red. If the intersection is high-risk, it becomes a four-way stop with ALL the lights being flashing red.

              1. Donn Bly

                Re: Pedant alert

                Flashing lights aren't just "fallback" positions. Many rural intersections are equipped with signals like that intentionally, and many urban traffic lights go to flashing lights at night on a timer when traffic is lighter.

              2. Keven E

                Re: Pedant alert

                "...you MUST come to a full and complete stop..."

                When I do that myself I'm quite weary of that arse tailgaiting me *anticipating me not doing that... and I'm not a slow driver by any means. Good luck being a pedestrian on a side street in Chitowne.

                I won't believe anyone is safe by default.

        2. GrumpyKiwi

          Re: Pedant alert

          **Pedant alert

          Green actually means 'You may proceed if it is safe to do so'**

          Nope I'm pretty sure it means "look up from your f***ing phone which you've been checking Faecesbook and messaging about that wicked parti after everyone behind you starts honking the horn because it's been green for 5 seconds FFS and slowly progress forward leaving just enough time for one more person to get through safely".

          1. Kiwi Silver badge
            Pint

            Re: Pedant alert

            "...it's been green for 5 seconds FFS and slowly progress forward leaving just enough time for one more person to get through safely".

            Was talking with my brother about this recently. Why the hell do so many Kiwi drivers move like old grannies driving a badly overloaded bus going through intersections, especially when it's clear that the other traffic has stopped and they're quite safe to move off?

          2. Glenturret Single Malt

            Re: Pedant alert

            Scientific definition of a split second: the time between the light changing to green (you are the front of the queue) and the driver behind hitting the horn.

            Action to be taken: get out of your car and go slowly round it while asking the driver behind if there is a problem with your car.

      5. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        However, here in the USofA, yellow means, "step on it, because it's about to turn red and you don't want to sit through another cycle because the idiot in front of you spent most of the green cycle updating their Facebook status instead of driving"

        It's gotten really bad here, and yes, we do have a "no texting while driving" law, but it's almost universally ignored.

        1. ThomH

          Pfft. Here in the USA it's still generally acceptable, including with plod, to add 10 to any posted speed limit, and the only cameras I see are red-light cameras.

        2. veti Silver badge

          How exactly are you meant to "step on it", if there's an "idiot in front of you... updating their Facebook status"?

        3. juvenihil

          We too have the "no texting while driving law", universally ignored. But, if you try to stall the line during commute hours, you probably end up beaten.

          1. Kiwi Silver badge

            We too have the "no texting while driving law", universally ignored. But, if you try to stall the line during commute hours, you probably end up beaten.

            Where do you live? I wanna move there! (Can I bring my baseball bat or should I just pretend I play golf?)

        4. Keven E

          GET OFF THE F%#&$*@ PHONE!

          ... at the top of my lungs... standing right next to the window of someone pretending to operate a vehicle.

      6. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "In the UK, the law is quite clear: Green = go, Amber = stop, Red = stop."

        Whaaaaatt? isn't it: Green = go, Amber = go faster, Red = stop

        1. NightFox

          FFS, it's really simple:

          Green = Go

          Amber = Go faster

          Red = Go if you don't reckon the other light will have changed to green yet

          1. Charles 9 Silver badge

            Hmm, I'd been under the impression that (especially in places like Boston), Red = Last one.

      7. Fred Dibnah Silver badge

        Green doesn't just mean 'go'.

        UK Highway Code: "GREEN means you may go on if the way is clear. Take special care if you intend to turn left or right and give way to pedestrians who are crossing"

      8. Qumefox

        Red = Stop

        Green = Go

        Yellow = Go faster.

      9. Allan George Dyer Silver badge
        Stop

        They ALL mean Stop...

        Amber: Stop, unless it is unsafe to stop.

        Red: Stop.

        Red+Amber: Stop. You might be able to go soon.

        Green: Stop, unless it is safe to Go.

        None of them give you permission to drive into a collision.

        1. Cuddles Silver badge

          Re: They ALL mean Stop...

          Technically red also means "Stop, unless it is unsafe to stop". All lights, signs and traffic rules always come with that proviso. You're never supposed to blindly obey a sign with no thought for what's happening around you, they're always saying what you should be doing unless there's a good reason to do something else. Exactly how good that reason needs to be varies - for an amber light simply not wanting to brake too hard is OK, while for a red light it needs to be something like getting out the way of an emergency vehicle - but it's always allowable to disobey road signs if it would be more dangerous to obey them.

          1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

            Re: They ALL mean Stop...

            @Cuddles: "... for a red light it needs to be something like getting out the way of an emergency vehicle..."

            A lot of people think this, but it isn't true. Crossing a red light for an emergency vehicle is (in the UK) illegal and can land you with a fine - the same for pulling into a bus-only lane. In general, this only applies if a camera catches you, and then you'd gave to take your chances with the magistrates.

        2. David Hicklin

          Re: They ALL mean Stop...

          I can remember seeing traffic lights that had "Stop" and "Go" on the light lenses*, mind you that was the 1980's when I had just passed my test

          (* Uttoxeter Old Road/Ashbourne Road, Derby)

      10. Dave K Silver badge

        As others have said, Amber means stop if safe to do so. If you're 10 metres from the lights and the amber light comes on, performing an emergency stop is far more dangerous than travelling through the amber light.

        Besides, here in the UK the lousy timing of many traffic lights doesn't help. Got several sets where I live that are on green for about 10 seconds, followed by red for over a minute - even when there's sod all coming out of the side junction. Not saying that justifies things, but people would be less likely to "chance it" if more lights had sensible timings and sensors to ensure they don't hold people up more than necessary.

    3. LDS Silver badge

      In some countries you get a pulsating green when it is about to change. Some even have a countdown displayed.

      Blue is a bad choice because it's not usually connected to a warning.

      1. daftdave

        Countdown

        In Manchester the pedestrian crossing lights have a count down for the pedestrians. It doesn't stop everyone wandering into the road when they shouldn't, much to the annoyance of taxi drivers.

        1. short a sandwich

          Re: Countdown

          Taxi drivers are perpetually annoyed.

          1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: Countdown

            Taxi drivers are perpetually annoying.

            FTFY

          2. Marcelo Rodrigues
            Devil

            Re: Countdown

            "Taxi drivers are perpetually annoyed."

            It's on the job description!

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Blue not connected to a warning?

        *looks in rear view mirror, sees blue lights and pulls over*

        Hang on, brb.

        *leans out of window*

        Evening officer, what can I do for you?

        1. LDS Silver badge

          Police and other emergency vehicles have blue light because they can't be mistaken with other red and yellow lights around - it's more an "identification" light that a warning one. In some countries they have red/blue flashing lights.

          Non-emergency working vehicles usually do use yellow lights to signal their operations.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Correct, blue is information.

            So if additional lights were to be added, it would be green, blue (info its about to change), amber, red.

            But if you were doing that, just add a count down on it, so you know when the lights are going to change.

            1. Mark 85 Silver badge

              But if you were doing that, just add a count down on it, so you know when the lights are going to change.

              Then there will be drivers who pay more attention to the count down than to driving. A variation of "oh... shiny.".

              1. Kiwi Silver badge

                But if you were doing that, just add a count down on it, so you know when the lights are going to change.

                Then there will be drivers who pay more attention to the count down than to driving. A variation of "oh... shiny.".

                My thoughts on that as well. People would be looking at the timer, not being sure that the intersection is clear/there isn't some truck coming from the side with failed brakes/failed driver that hasn't a hope of stopping in time.

                I wonder if there's a correlation with accident rates and places that have an indication that the lights are about to become green? (though that'd be thrown out by the people using their phone rather than watching the roads around them nowadays anyway)

                [edit - just thought of a nice new law - if a cop can walk up to your car and catch you using your phone at the lights, they can also open your door, grab your phone from your hands, and smash it on the ground there and then - at least meaning we're safe from you until you can replace it - only defense is you're in bumper-bumper traffic due to an accident and were too stupid to allow some space in front/have a barrier or something else meaning you cannot possibly pull off]

          2. Charles 9 Silver badge

            Car-topper lights are color-coded to indicate what they are. For example, where I live:

            Police are combination red-blue.

            Fire, Rescue, and EMS (basically, anything based in a fire house) use all-red lights.

            Ambulances and other hospital-based vehicles use all-blue lights.

            Service vehicles (construction vehicles, tow vehicles, etc.) use yellow lights.

            All but the last one possess rights of way by law.

      3. AMBxx Silver badge

        Worse than that - take a good look at the green lights in the UK. They actually contain a lot of blue light to avoid problems with red/green colour blindness. No idea if it's the same elsewhere.

        1. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          Can confirm.

          "Incandescent" green, easily confused by me with mercury-vapor streetlights.

          "LED" green, not so much. Mercury vapor lights are hardly ever seen any more, having been replaced, first by sodium vapor and now by LED.

        2. Ken Hagan Gold badge

          Even more so in Japan, I believe, where the language apparently doesn't distinguish between blue and green (at least, in basic vocabulary) and consequently they went their own way in the early days.

        3. Charles 9 Silver badge

          That is something the people in the article would've worked on as well. As you say, the colors are tweaked so as to help people with color blindness. That's also why positioning is so important (to best accommodate people with total color blindness and cannot distinguish blue from green in any event). That's also why road signs have specific shapes: a general idea in North America being the more points in the sign, the more urgent the message.

          1. Keven E
            Pirate

            The 20 sided sign...

            ... means there's a perpetual D&D game at the next right.

            *******

            Methinks the yeild (3 sided) sign is a bit more urgent than the no parking (4 sided) sign... maybe not. Also, it slowly morphed into a red one (no longer yellow).

      4. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

        Re: Blue is a bad choice because it's not usually connected to a warning.

        I think that any driver seeing blue would think OMG the police! I must stop!

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Blue is a bad choice because it's not usually connected to a warning.

          "I think that any driver seeing blue would think OMG the police! I must stop!"

          I drive a lot. Some of the new high intensity lights can appear to flash blue from certain angles, especially in the rear view mirror. Some trucks have big blue LED displays in the back of the cab that can appear to flash at times when coming towards you (bumps in the road etc.) Then there's the twats otherwise known as "boy racers" who have blue LEDs either fitted inside the headlamp enclosure or other places on the car, again which can seem to flash in certain circumstances. As someone who actually drives properly and does actually use the rear view mirror even on long straight roads, it's feckin' annoying when those morons can appear, even if only for a moment, appear to be an emergency vehicle in the distance or out of the corner of your eye. They get away with it because of a loophole in the law banning only flashing blue lights, not static ones.

          1. Kiwi Silver badge
            Pint

            Re: Blue is a bad choice because it's not usually connected to a warning.

            As someone who actually drives properly and does actually use the rear view mirror even on long straight roads

            You, sir, have my gratitude, and as many of these as you can provide for yourself (just not too close to before driving time :) )

            1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

              Re: Blue is a bad choice because it's not usually connected to a warning.

              I've recently been averaging over 1200 miles per week. It's probably more like 1000 per week for the last 20 years or so. I drive in a way that makes sure I get home again each day :-)

      5. Allan George Dyer Silver badge
        Joke

        "Blue is a bad choice because it's not usually connected to a warning."

        Would Teal be a better choice? I know:

        Red -> Cerise

        Amber -> Beige

        Green -> Teal

        FTFY.

      6. John Savard Silver badge

        In Japan, though, the green lights are blue. That is, the lights are blue, amber, and red, and the blue light has the function of the green light anywhere else. So the blue light is the one that is not a warming.

    4. Wade Burchette Silver badge

      For far too many Americans, a red light and a stop sign means "yield" or "slow down just to make sure you can get through the intersection before another vehicle hits you".

      1. DavCrav Silver badge

        I was told that, because of all of the stop signs in LA, people slow down to a crawl but don't completely stop. This manoeuvre is called a 'California roll'.

        1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
          Stop

          Due North....

          & will definitely get you a fine in Canadaland if seen by the cops.

          See - Icon.

          1. keith_w

            Re: Due North....

            I've had that happen.

        2. First Light

          In California, it's called a "Hollywood Roll."

          1. DavCrav Silver badge

            This was, technically*, in Hollywood. I guess there it's called a California roll.

            * As in, just about at the time it was said.

        3. Mark 85 Silver badge

          In some states it called <state name> curtsey. Tap the brake peddle and hit the gas.

        4. John Savard Silver badge

          I know when I was taught to drive, I was taught in a residential neighborhood where people had cars parked right up to the corner, so at the stop signs I could not see oncoming traffic. Since I could see the road in front through gaps in the parked cars, being allowed to do a California roll would actually have been safer, as I could have gone through the road when I new there were no cars in it, instead of having to stick the nose of the car out when a car might be zooming past for all I knew.

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            "a residential neighborhood where people had cars parked right up to the corner,"

            That's why in the UK you are not allowed to park up within 10' of a junction unless it's a marked parking bay.

          2. Kiwi Silver badge

            Since I could see the road in front through gaps in the parked cars, being allowed to do a California roll would actually have been safer, as I could have gone through the road when I new there were no cars in it, instead of having to stick the nose of the car out when a car might be zooming past for all I knew.

            In NZ it's "Stop where you can safely see", which may be behind the line a bit.

            In NZ it's also "Proceed when it is safe to do so".

            What a lot of people don't realise is that if 2 or 3 cars stop, and all can safely see, then all can safely go - the 2nd car doesn't actually have to stop a second time.

            We do also have laws about how close you may park to an intersection, but said intersection may also have "safety barriers", council-planted and maintained shrubs/trees, buildings, fences, or who knows what else blocking the view.

            [Disclaimer - this was back in the 90s when I did a many-months-long professional driver course, may've changed some since]

        5. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Wasn't another reason for the California Roll that one didn't want to be completely stopped in case the intersection was being cased as it's a lot easier to get back up to speed in the event of an ambush if you still have some kind of forward motion?

      2. jmch Silver badge

        "For far too many Americans, a red light and a stop sign means "yield"... "

        That might be a side-effect of being allowed to "turn right* on red". It feeds a mentality that red is not an absolute stop. I understand that for traffic fluidity purposes "turn right on red" is actually desirable, but maybe it can be indicated in a different way.

        Many intersections now have different sets of traffic lights controlling different exit directions from the junction. Surely it would be more sensible to keep the "turn right on red" principle, but implement it as a red for traffic going straight / left, and as a flashing orange for those turning right.

        *Invert right with left as appropriate for UK comparison

        1. AndrueC Silver badge
          Meh

          Many intersections now have different sets of traffic lights controlling different exit directions from the junction.

          We get those in the UK quite a lot. There's one near me which has them but they appear to be part time. Either that or they are just defective. I'm usually negotiating that junction on Sunday afternoon turning right and usually there's a 'go right' indication and oncoming traffic stops. But sometimes the oncoming traffic stops and we don't get a 'go right' arrow.

          Mind you that junction is a pain in the opposite direction. It's a long cycle for that road but you can see the lights from a long distance. It's a 30 zone so when you see the lights come into view and if they are red you don't know if you might as well lift off a bit and spend the wait moving slowly toward the lights or if you should keep going at 30 in order to get there in time to make it through the next green cycle.

          NB: In that Street View the 'go right' light is only on the distant repeater and hasn't lit because oncoming traffic are still being signalled to go (either that or the red people carrier is being naughty).

          1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            One junction in Huddersfield used to have a turn right filter operated by a detection loop in the road. The detection loop was forward from the stop line. Out-of-town drivers would stop at the stop line on red. The main lights changed to green and they'd just stay there waiting for the filter not knowing that they needed to roll forward a car length or so to trigger the filter.

            1. AndrueC Silver badge
              Happy

              That's interesting. There could be a similar system in place at those lights. That would explain why it seems a bit random. I always roll forward anyway so perhaps when I've not seen it it's been because a vehicle in front didn't. Or maybe I've been the only vehicle wanting to turn right and it was clear so I've just gone through before it reacted to me entering the junction.

              1. genghis_uk

                It seems to be increasingly common 'round here for people to stop at least 1/2 a car length before the line. No idea why they do it and on a lot of town junctions, it decreases the visibility left and right.

                I thought for a while it was part of the new driving techniques being taught - along with not bothering to indicate - but it appears to be people of all shapes and ages...

                1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

                  ...and the cars behind them leaving 1/2 to full car length. So I pull up close in the proper position and let the car do it's "auto stop" thing to save on fuel and pollution. Then all those stopped cars all start inching forward on the red light, closing up the gaps, leaving me with an embarrassingly huge gap in front of me or following the herd, moving 10 feet or so and the car refusing to engage autostop again after such a short, slow move.

                  1. AndrueC Silver badge
                    Happy

                    I can feel slightly less guilty about that now that I have a hybrid. It's still a waste of energy but at least my ICE won't restart just to move forward a couple of metres. I was actually quite impressed recently while stuck in an interminable queue on the A55 at Abergele. An hour to drive three miles to get clear but the fuel consumption shown on the dash moved between 66.4 (when the ICE was running at 1,200 rpm to charge the battery) and 66.9 just before the battery needed a recharge. It'd been 66.8 before I hit the queue so apparently (?) my car is more efficient crawling through stop/start traffic at 3 mph than it is cruising at 60 mph.

                    Unfortunately it was my fault. I vaguely knew about the roadworks before setting off and just forgot to take the A5/A470 route. I didn't make the same mistake going back :)

                2. Kiwi Silver badge
                  Pint

                  I thought for a while it was part of the new driving techniques being taught - along with not bothering to indicate - but it appears to be people of all shapes and ages...

                  I've seen that a lot in NZ cities where MC lane splitting is common, and figured it somewhat related. Conversely, I don't see said behaviour much in places where LS isn't so common.

                  I don't do it myself since, as you said, it reduces my visibility of (and to) cross-traffic.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          In the US right on red still requires a complete and full stop and check to see if it is safe to proceed.

          Let's be honest, assholes are assholes no matter what country they are from, no country is truly better or worse than another. I watch YouTube videos from around the world showing bad drivers, seems red light runners are rather universal.

      3. F111F
        Stop

        Cop Joke

        All octagonal stop signs with a white border are optional...

        Icon...well, obvious, innit?

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Red for stop?

      Are you mad. In the UK now, that means speed up so that you don't have to wait for the lights to show amber again before doing a very rapid 0-60 (even in a 30 limit).

      I've seen busses, 40 ton trucks as well as a vast number of black Audi's not even bother to slow down at a red light. The problem is only going to get worse.

      1. horse of a different color

        Re: Red for stop?

        If they changed the amber light for a BMW logo, I think everyone would understand what sort of driver goes through an amber light...

        1. juvenihil

          Re: Red for stop?

          In a big congested city, if you stop at the amber light you are just a lazy asshole planning to make anybody late for work.

          1. horse of a different color

            Re: Red for stop?

            Better a lazy asshole, than an asshole who races through amber lights...

            1. Kiwi Silver badge
              Pint

              Re: Red for stop?

              Better a lazy asshole, than an asshole who races through amber lights...

              Yup.

              Not that it'd make you lazy. In fact kinda the opposite, it takes more effort to stop than to keep going :)

              (as to the making others late - imagine how late they'd be if a major intersection in a gridlocked city is blocked by a bad crash)

      2. BrownishMonstr Bronze badge

        Re: Red for stop?

        A small increase in speed is more efficient than heavy braking and increasing it from 0. It was for the planet after all, gov, honest.

    6. Velv Silver badge
      Boffin

      I'd suggest you read the law.

      Amber means "Stop, unless it would be unsafe to do so."

      So if you get caught on camera having ignored the Amber to stop and gone through the Red there will also be evidence in the picture of why it was unsafe to stop (e.g the tailgating vehicle that would have rear-ended you).

      1. Antron Argaiv Silver badge

        I *never* slam on the brakes when a light turns yellow and I'm close to the intersection. The odds of getting rear-ended are too high, as not only is the car behind likely to be right on your bumper, but they are likely *expecting* you to go through the yellow.

      2. Orv Silver badge

        This varies not only from country to country, but also from state to state. In most US states you're legal as long as you cross the stop line before the light turns red. But in a few (and I think Oregon might be one of them), you have to *clear* the intersection before the light turns red. This has the effect of making the length of the yellow much more critical.

    7. IGotOut

      Sorry, you've never driven in Birmingham.

      Green = Go

      Amber = Go faster

      Red = Go if you can proberbly get away with it.

      Luckily I no longer have to drive in that hell hole.

      1. werdsmith Silver badge

        British drivers in the Orlando, FL area driving rental cars are usually the ones getting rear ended because they stop at amber lights. I've seen it so often.

        1. Venerable and Fragrant Wind of Change

          I got rear-ended in Switzerland, stopping to let a pedestrian across a Zebra.

          I was a Brit, driving a German-registered car. Germans pretty-much always stop for pedestrians; Brits sometimes; Swiss rarely.

          1. juvenihil

            Swiss *always* stop for pedestrians, same as Germans. You prolly found one of many italian frontaliers.

    8. Mike Moyle Silver badge

      A modest proposal...

      Green --> Amber --> 10 MW laser --> Red

      1. OssianScotland Silver badge

        Re: A modest proposal...

        Yes, but where do the sharks come into it?

        1. Kiwi Silver badge

          Re: A modest proposal...

          Yes, but where do the sharks come into it?

          They're the ones that open the repair shops with the "payday loans" place right by said intersection.

    9. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Amber supplement

      I'm frequently seeing countdown timers for pedestrians lately that are sometimes useful to drivers on a particular road.. Even if I'm too far away to read the numbers, the visible flashing is an apoarent prelude to amber for vehicles. So I know to back off from 70 to 55, just in case. Makes for a smoother ride.

    10. TRT Silver badge

      And THIS is why...

      the world will never see the self-driving car on the public roads.

      How many on this comment thread are coders? And how many posts has it taken to thoroughly muddy the waters of what the actual codified rules of the road actually state? And was there any kind of conclusion reached?

      And that's JUST for the traffic lights.

      1. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

        Re: How many on this comment thread are coders?

        Some programmers implicitly rely on "short-circuit evaluation" i.e., they see the lights are green and plough through regardless without bothering to check whether any other conditions are met, potentially leading to a head-on collision.

  4. Tony W

    Would someone explain

    I find this hard to understand. Either you have time to stop after seeing the yellow light, or you don't. That depends on reaction time, speed, distance, tyres, road surface, weather and so on. What has turning right (equivalent to left in the UK of course) got to do with it?

    1. James 51 Silver badge

      Re: Would someone explain

      Turning normally involves slowing down so it takes longer to cover the same distance. If I am reading the article correctly, you could go through a green light turning right and have it be red by the time you've finished the turn so you've gone through a red light, even if it wasn't red when you started your turn. Doesn't help that in some US states it's legal to drive through red lights as long as you're turning right, pedestrians have the right of way though as this situation often applies to zebra crossings/crosswalks (why yes I have almost been killed by drivers in this exact scenario who decided to just plough on regardless).

      1. whileI'mhere

        Re: Would someone explain

        If you have legitimately entered the junction (crossed the line) on amber (under circumstances described above) what on earth does it matter if you are turning right or left or going straight on and/or whether the light is red before you leave the junction? Either you entered the junction legitimately on amber or you did not. I really do not understand what all the rest of the fuss is about.

        1. Wandering Reader

          Re: Would someone explain

          "If you have legitimately entered the junction (crossed the line) on amber "

          No. The issue is people who entered the junction on green, but couldn't exit the junction before the lights went red. I.e. Amber wasn't long enough before the lights went red.

          Amber should last long enough that if you fail to exit the junction in time it's your own damned fault.

          1. whileI'mhere

            Re: Would someone explain

            "The issue is people who entered the junction on green, but couldn't exit the junction before the lights went red. I.e. Amber wasn't long enough before the lights went red."

            The article failed to make that clear. Does make more sense.

            But. again, if I entered the junction on green, amber's length is irrelevant. Absent a yellow hatched/box junction, I might be prevented from exiting the junction (e.g. by stopped traffic ahead) when the light turn red. I do not get a 'red light infraction' fine for that. It is - and should only be - all about when you enter the junction. Unless there is a MINIMUM speed limit then all the tinkering in the world with amber light periods cannot prevent someone being in the position of leaving a junction when the light is red. The case you note implies there must be an assumed minimum speed for the amber light period to be calculated.

            1. Citizens untied

              Re: Would someone explain

              The issue is actually that the automated revenue generator.. er I mean.. safety enforcement system likely tickets people under circumstances they would normal if a human were monitoring the intersection.

              1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

                Re: Would someone explain

                And there we have it. Here in the UK, a Red Light Camera is positioned and set up to trigger on people crossing the stop line and entering the junction on a red light. They DO NOT trigger on a car exiting a junction. The red lights ahead of you once you have entered the junction generally have no meaning because they are repeater lights to improve visibility and only apply to the junction entrance.

                1. Rich Harding

                  Re: Would someone explain

                  Yes, and I'm given to understand that they are generally set to trigger once one second of red has elapsed, thus allowing a small amount of leeway for those who felt it "unsafe to stop on amber".

            2. swm Silver badge

              Re: Would someone explain

              There was a case in California about an elderly woman that would start to cross the street just when the "walk" signal started. She was too slow to make it across before the light turned. They arrested her for J-walking. It went to court and the judge ruled that she had a right to cross the street so the signals should give her enough time to do so.

            3. Kiwi Silver badge
              Stop

              Re: Would someone explain

              Absent a yellow hatched/box junction, I might be prevented from exiting the junction (e.g. by stopped traffic ahead) when the light turn red.

              In NZ it's illegal to enter an intersection if your exit is blocked. We still get a lot of muppets who block intersections for cross traffic because they're too stupid to follow such a basic rule (and those sometimes caught short, eg another call stalling that should've gone through OK).

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Would someone explain

            Doesn't apply to the UK. Only box junctions are directly covered for entering a junction. After that it would be a due care and attention charge but only if you did something very stupid while in the junction that had a different lane go live.

            You should only go into a junction if it is clear although this is not law.

            1. DavCrav Silver badge

              Re: Would someone explain

              "Only box junctions are directly covered for entering a junction."

              And you can do that if oncoming traffic is preventing you from turning right.

          3. jmch Silver badge

            Re: Would someone explain

            " entered the junction on green, but couldn't exit the junction before the lights went red"

            Oh I see what the issue is here - it seems to be a particularly American interpretation of traffic lights. Everywhere I have driven in Europe, there is a line painted across the road associated with a traffic light, which I guess you could consider the junction 'entry'. If you pass this line on green or can pass it safely on amber, it's OK. Pass the line on red, not OK. End of story, without any faffing about with when you exit the junction.

            If the interpretation for when you are in violation of a red light doesn't depend on the junction entry but the junction exit (by which point you can't even see the light controlling the junction)... well, someone needs to explain to me the (il)logic behind it

            1. DaveDaveDave

              Re: Would someone explain

              In the UK you can get a ticket for breaking the lights despite the front of the car passing before they turned red, if the back of the car doesn't make it over the line in time. But really, that's only going to happen in situations where you could and should have stopped.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Would someone explain

                I'm pretty sure it's the front wheels of the car that have to cross the line before, not the back.

                If you get the front over before red, your good to go - from a legal perspective, albeit not necesarily a safety one!

              2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

                Re: Would someone explain

                "In the UK you can get a ticket for breaking the lights despite the front of the car passing before they turned red, if the back of the car doesn't make it over the line in time. But really, that's only going to happen in situations where you could and should have stopped."

                That's my understanding too. The duration of the amber light is timed based on the roads speed limit and proper stopping distance + a small fudge factor. If the light goes amber and you're far enough back to stop safely, then the red will come on before you get there. If you see it go amber and you can;t safely slow and stop before it goes red, then it should still be on amber as you pass it. This should apply to most driving conditions. If driving at the speed limit means you can't stop in time from seeing the light turn amber when in good dry conditions you could, then you are going too fast for the conditions (wet, snow etc)

            2. Stoneshop Silver badge

              Re: Would someone explain

              (by which point you can't even see the light controlling the junction).

              In the US it's not uncommon to have four traffic lights bunched together, suspended right over the centre of the junction. which means that you can still see them after you crossed the stop line.

              1. Allan George Dyer Silver badge

                Re: Would someone explain

                @Stoneshop - "(by which point you can't even see the light controlling the junction).

                In the US it's not uncommon to have four traffic lights bunched together, suspended right over the centre of the junction. which means that you can still see them after you crossed the stop line."

                But still being able to see the lights doesn't help you when you are in the junction - what are you supposed to do? Activate your emergency teleport to exit the junction?

                It sounds like the sort of rule designed to make it easy to fine out-of-towers. All the locals know the amber phase on this junction is a bit short, but others don't.

            3. HereIAmJH

              Re: Would someone explain

              You shouldn't enter the intersection (junction) if you can't exit it before the light turns red. The amber is giving you information that is supposed to stop you from running red lights or slamming on your brakes. You are supposed to use good judgement and the length of the amber should be consistent based on the speed limit. Unfortunately, neither is a given.

              More likely the problem here is the automatic red light camera. Most of them, in the US, are owned by private companies with a revenue sharing agreement with the local governments. It has been claimed that they are profit driven, not safety driven. They have been banned in several US states because they violate the state's constitutions.

              1. martinusher Silver badge

                Re: Would someone explain

                >Most of them, in the US, are owned by private companies with a revenue sharing agreement with the local governments.

                They're a bit tricky because the US doesn't really allow red light cameras -- its that 'self incrimination' problem -- so what they issue in the mail is something that looks like a citation but is actually not one. The whole purpose is to trick you into admitting the offense.Obviously if you ignore the pseudo-citation you'll get a lot of trouble from the authorities but it will be more along the lines of a civil proceeding for a parking violation than a criminal citation.

                The whole world of automatic citation generation is fascinating over here because of the collision between a lucrative revenue stream and the Bill of Rights. It needs creative thinking to implement speed cameras, red light cameras and ANPR and explains why its outsourced rather than owned and operated by government..

            4. Charles 9 Silver badge

              Re: Would someone explain

              "If the interpretation for when you are in violation of a red light doesn't depend on the junction entry but the junction exit (by which point you can't even see the light controlling the junction)... well, someone needs to explain to me the (il)logic behind it"

              There's a term for it in the US: being "caught in the box". Under most traffic laws, one isn't supposed to ENTER an intersection until one is confident he/she can completely EXIT said intersection (as in the entire car has cleared the "box" of the intersection indicated by the actual corners of the curbs) before the light changes its cycle (turns red for you and green for the cross traffic). If you see there's a lot of traffic in front of you, to the point you may not get across by then, you're supposed to not even enter and just wait. If you're "caught in the box," you are legally obstructing traffic and subject to a pretty stiff fine (worse if there's a specific "Don't Block Intersection" statute in place).

              1. jtaylor

                Re: Would someone explain

                in the US...Under most traffic laws, one isn't supposed to ENTER an intersection until one is confident he/she can completely EXIT said intersection

                California Vehicle Code "21451. (a) A driver facing a circular green signal shall proceed straight through or turn right or left or make a U-turn unless a sign prohibits a U-turn. Any driver, including one turning, shall yield the right-of-way to other traffic and to pedestrians lawfully within the intersection or an adjacent crosswalk."

                https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displaySection.xhtml?lawCode=VEH&sectionNum=21451.&article=3

                When I learned to drive in the north-east, we were supposed to enter an intersection on green and yield to oncoming traffic, then turn left when safe — even if that meant you had to wait for the light to turn red.

              2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

                Re: Would someone explain

                "If you're "caught in the box," you are legally obstructing traffic and subject to a pretty stiff fine"

                Isn't that the point of the amber though? Your light may go red before you get across, but the cross traffic should still be on red/amber before it goes green for a few more seconds. (I'm assuming you have a clear exit of course, since you should not enter a junction if there's a traffic queue the other side of the junction that might stop you exiting.)

          4. katrinab Silver badge

            Re: Would someone explain

            In the UK, Red means "though shalt not cross the white line in front of these lights". Once you've crossed the line, you can take as long as you like to clear it. If it turns red after I cross the line, it doesn't matter any more than if it turns red when I'm 20 km further down the road.

            There is one junction I take regularly which is a right turn (turning across traffic going the other way, equivalent to left turn in 2/3 of the world that drives on the other side of the road). I cross the white line on green, and I pretty much always have to wait for the lights to turn to red before I can do the actual right turn because that's the only time there's a gap in the opposing traffic.

            1. ICPurvis47 Bronze badge
              Devil

              Re: Would someone explain

              "2/3 of the world that drives on the Wrong side of the road" FTFY

              I blame Napoleon Bonaparte, before him, everyone "drove" on the left side of the road, so that they could use their sword in their right hand to defend themselves if necessary. NB was left handed, and wore his sword on the right, drawing it with his left hand. He therefor decreed that all traffic (horse in those days) kept to the right side of the road so that he would have had the advantage if so confronted. Thus, all countries that were influenced by the British Empire drive on the left, and those influenced by the french drive on the right. Some countries, like Sweden, started out driving on the left, but changed over in order to conform with the majority of their neighbours.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Would someone explain

                "I blame Napoleon Bonaparte, before him, everyone "drove" on the left side of the road."

                As I understand it, it's a long and very complicated story. The development mostly came with the evolution of carriages. In the days when solitary horses and single files were common, the custom was to use left-hand so as to allow the right hand to reach across as needed.

                But when you start dealing with multiple files of horses, position becomes a concern. If you have two lines of horses pulling an unseated wagon, the driver would normally sit on the left rear horse so that his right hand is in better position to control the horses as that hand would be in the center. From that position, it made more sense to keep to the right, as the driver would have a clearer view and reduce the chance of a "head-on".

                Here's one take on the debate.

        2. Gordon861

          Re: Would someone explain

          I got the impression, maybe wrongly, that in the US the whole junction is covered by the lights. Meaning that if you are still in the junction when the lights have changed then you get a ticket. As opposed to in the UK where the only bit covered by the red light is the stop line so if you have passed the stop line and are still within the junction when they change you are still legal.

          The argument is that if you have already slowed to make another manoeuvre then the time that the yellow light is lit is not sufficient to clear the junction.

          1. daftdave

            Re: Would someone explain

            Yeah in the UK it's not only acceptable to complete the maneuver after the lights have turned red, it's actually very commonly necessary when turning right.

            If you are turning right and blocked by oncoming traffic it is acceptable to enter the junction and wait there for it to be clear. At many lights, that won't happen until the oncoming traffic gets a red, at the same time as you get a red. So you complete the maneuver then. I did this many times in my driving lessons and have always considered it to be quite normal.

            1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

              Re: Would someone explain

              "when turning right."

              Remember the US drives on the wrong side so the UK equivalent would be making a left turn at the junction.

              1. OhThatGuy

                Re: Would someone explain

                "Remember the US drives on the wrong side"

                Certainly not, they drive on the right side (as we do in Sweden nowadays ;-)

                1. OssianScotland Silver badge

                  Re: Would someone explain

                  They drive on the right side (which is the wrong side)….

                  1. DiViDeD Silver badge

                    Re: Would someone explain

                    If you want to see chaos from driving on the right side of the road, spend some time in Myanmar. The old Prime Minister, during his late, underpants on head period, decreed that, from 6th Dec 1970, his country would drive on the right.

                    Unfortunately, bus companies continue to operate (and buy!) buses designed to operate on the left, which means that, every time a bus stops, passengers have to enter and leave via the middle of the bloody road. With much hilarity ensueing.

            2. rnturn

              Re: Would someone explain

              If this were strictly enforced in the US for left turns, there'd be massive gridlock. The department of transportation designs intersections and include left turn lanes that'll sometimes hold 10-15 waiting cars, only allow turns while the green arrow is lit, and then only turn on the left turn arrow for 5 seconds. At some intersections, the first 3-4 seconds of your left turn arrow is taken up waiting for cars to complete the left turns from the cross street that they were unable to complete resulting in only 2-3 cars actually being able to turn left and leaving the rest in the left turn lane stuck until the next cycle.

              I'm a proponent of shortening the entire cycle. Some of the cause for cars not being able to turn is obviously drivers farting around on their cellphones but another is having red/green cycles that are several minutes long. Drivers get inattentive when sitting that long at a red light especially those who get stuck in the left turn lanes staring at a red turn arrow. I think the goal should be to keep cars moving as much as possible---not have cars line up for several minutes at a time and then restrict their ability to make turns for only a few seconds.

              Traffic circles help but is nearly impossible to replace existing traffic lights with traffic circles in urban areas. In rural areas, they're great. There's nothing so annoying as sitting at a red light in the middle of freakin' nowhere in the wee hours knowing that the second you decide to run through it -- because you can see that there's nobody coming for a mile in either direction -- will be when a trooper appears from behind a row of bushes and nails you.

              1. Charles 9 Silver badge

                Re: Would someone explain

                "I think the goal should be to keep cars moving as much as possible---not have cars line up for several minutes at a time and then restrict their ability to make turns for only a few seconds."

                The problem becomes when you have over 100 cars trying to cross the same intersection at the same time from all directions. A term arises that describes the inevitable problem: chokepoint. Yes, it sucks to wait, but don't forget all the other directions as well, just as full (if not fuller if you're on a secondary versus a primary arterial) and full of other drivers just as impatient as you. Normally, at full pace in an intersection of two peers, the cycles should be relatively the same for both directions: left turns to first, followed by the straights, then red so the cross street can do the left-straight pattern. Some intersections switch the left and straight phases, but when they do it's normally consistent and still makes a discrete pattern of motion.

                "At some intersections, the first 3-4 seconds of your left turn arrow is taken up waiting for cars to complete the left turns from the cross street that they were unable to complete"

                That should only happen if the cross street has a late left and you have an early left. Like I said, it should be more consistent, with BOTH having either an early left or a late left. This should be brought up as to why the pattern there is inconsistent.

                PS. Now that I think about it, an intersection near me DOES have something like that, left-straight one direction, both straight, then left-straight the other direction. I think this is due to very uneven lefts (lot more left turns in one direction versus the other; in this case, one goes to a freeway on-ramp). But still, something like that should be able to be adjusted, say to give the left more green (green time is the one adjusted the most to accommodate flow).

              2. Kiwi Silver badge

                Re: Would someone explain

                Traffic circles help but is nearly impossible to replace existing traffic lights with traffic circles in urban areas.

                NZ manages to do it just fine :)

                Has to be a need of course that justifies the expenditure, and council with the will to do it (usually increases their odds of getting in again next election), but we do it often enough. Even with intersections you'd swear wouldn't take a roundabout, they work.

                We do have one at Paremata that is getting/has gotten an amber/red traffic light that is active for a couple of hours each day. But that's because of the northbound traffic from Wellington which basically chokes everything else off, so the "lights will stop"[1] northbound traffic for a few cars every few minutes (when the queue on the other intersections gets too big).

                But mostly they work very well especially in large urban areas. They keep traffic flowing quite well (see Mythbusters).

                [1] Hey, it often comes to a stop during peak time anyway!

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: Would someone explain

                  "NZ manages to do it just fine :)"

                  How close are buildings there to the road? By "urban areas", we're probably talking streets where buildings are built up, corner-to-corner, right to the sidewalk right-of-way. I'd be interested to see how such a tight intersection box can reasonable be made into a roundabout.

                  1. Kiwi Silver badge

                    Re: Would someone explain

                    "NZ manages to do it just fine :)"

                    How close are buildings there to the road? By "urban areas", we're probably talking streets where buildings are built up, corner-to-corner, right to the sidewalk right-of-way. I'd be interested to see how such a tight intersection box can reasonable be made into a roundabout.

                    We usually have road, footpath, property boundary (seldom built right to except for in shopping areas).

                    Some of these roads were already 4-lane so making the roundabout a single lane helps. Others are made small and low concrete so that long vehicles can simple drive/trail over top. If you wish to look at one such, see Bedford Street in Porirua, the end nearest Cannon's Creek shopping centre. Don't think Street View will show it yet (running a couple of VM's atm so my ram is pretty much maxed out). Another would be on the road from Wellington to Karori, but I can't recall the name of the intersections atm. These were achieved with a little of the footpath being sacrificed by not much.

          2. Orv Silver badge

            Re: Would someone explain

            It's even more complicated than that -- it varies from state to state whether the whole intersection is covered, or if you just have to clear the stop line before the light turns red.

            Also, stopping *in* the intersection (because you tried to cross it before there was room on the other side) is its own offense, "gridlocking," in some places. California has had a whole (mostly ineffective) "don't block the box" PR campaign.

        3. mevets

          Re: Would someone explain

          Red Light Cameras. I first thought they were something else entirely. They detect motion in an intersection during the time all lights are red; photographing the "offenders" license plates as evidence that they ran a red.

          These are a specific case of why the general idea of robotic law enforcement is a bad idea. Our laws and regulations are not refined enough for a mechanical interpretation.

          1. Velv Silver badge
            Boffin

            Re: Would someone explain

            In the UK there are two sets of wire sensors under the road either side of the white line you are meant to stop short of.

            The camera is triggered if you cross the sensors after the lights have changed. The camera takes two pictures, one as you cross the line, and one two* seconds later to show if you stopped or carried on. *I think it's two seconds, the point being that you won't be prosecuted for crossing the line if you did actually stop but just not in time.

          2. Electronics'R'Us Bronze badge
            Stop

            Re: Would someone explain

            In the UK, moving forward on a red light can get you fined even if you are trying to let an emergency vehicle through.

            1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

              Re: Would someone explain

              Here in the Netherlands as well, but you can protest that fine and usually the protest is upheld (there will be a photo of the ambulance as well).

              The last time I had an ambulance appear behind me (still some distance away) while waiting in line for a red light, I just shifted gear to backward and moved to the side.

            2. katrinab Silver badge

              Re: Would someone explain

              The police do keep sending out press releases saying "do not jump a red light to let an emergency vehicle through, we'll find another way though".

            3. AVee

              Re: Would someone explain

              I read the story you linked, and the fine was dropped eventually.

              Also, although I don't know the local situation, it seemed the driver wasn't (probably despite all the best intentions) making a smart move there. Turning into a bus lane isn't very likely to be useful because it makes more sense for the emergency vehicle to use that lane to avoid traffic in the first place. On top of that this driver didn't stop but kept driving in the bus lane, which isn't very helpful either. As such, while a fine maybe a bit crude, I can see how that driver probably needed to be educated a bit...

              1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

                Re: Would someone explain

                it's surprising (or not!) just how many drivers panic when blue lights and sirens impinge on their awareness.

                1. Kiwi Silver badge
                  Pint

                  Re: Would someone explain

                  it's surprising (or not!) just how many drivers panic when blue lights and sirens impinge on their awareness.

                  Are you sure it's impinging on their awareness? Given what I see so often, I'd bet good money it's the lack :)

                  1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

                    Re: Would someone explain

                    Oh yes, I'm sure. They often don't notice the bright blue lights flashing or the blaring sirens directly behind them for a while. But when they eventually do, they panic. :-)

          3. Danny 2 Silver badge

            Re: Would someone explain

            "photographing the "offenders" license plates as evidence that they ran a red"

            That is only proof that the vehicle ran a red. I'm not being a smart-arse, I actually got off with this in court last year. I'd been driving my parents to their relatives house in their car, and months later they got a citation for running a red. I filled out the form saying I was the driver, but I wasn't sure as their memory is extremely unreliable and other relatives use their car. I asked the prosecutor for a copy of the photo to see if it was me driving, and they claimed that they never provided that. I was asked in court whether I was guilty or not and I replied, "Probably", which the Sheriff didn't accept. I was told to go to the police for a copy of the photo and come back the next week to plead, but as you say the photo just shows the number plate. The case was dismissed, without me lying or employing a lawyer.

            1. Kiwi Silver badge
              Coat

              Re: Would someone explain

              The case was dismissed, without me lying or employing a lawyer.

              I once was accused of something myself but it never got to court. I was not aware of committing the offence, and when the plod came round to ask I simply told them that would be my defense. If they could show I was guilty I would happily plead guilty, but they were unwilling (or more likely unable) to show any proof.

              Yep, others use the car, but also I had no proof of any offence being committed let alone whether or not I was guilty, and if I was guilty whether or not it was completely my fault (eg speeding in an area where the lower limit sign is obscured/lying in a ditch etc).

              --> (BTW, is it purely coincidence that "lawyer" and "liar" are phonetically similar?)

          4. ICPurvis47 Bronze badge
            Unhappy

            Re: Would someone explain

            I once received a ticket from a red light camera. I was following a bus on a dark and rainy night, along a dual carriageway that I had never been down before. My headlights were illuminating the back of the bus, plus the interior lighting of the bus was visible through its back window, and there were four huge red rear lights, one at each corner of its square rear end. All around was black and invisible, and we were doing about 40 MPH down a hill. Suddenly, there were three white flashes from behind me, the bus had jumped the red light, I had followed it, and the car behind me had followed as well. The bus driver would have been the only one to see the light turn red, neither I nor the driver behind could see it because the bus obscured it. Pleaded Not Guilty on Extenuating Circumstances, went to Magistrates' Court and was found Guilty and fined £30 and 3 points on my (otherwise clean) licence.

            1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

              Re: Would someone explain

              "Pleaded Not Guilty on Extenuating Circumstances, went to Magistrates' Court and was found Guilty and fined £30 and 3 points on my (otherwise clean) licence."

              Sounds like you were too close to the bus, especially for the conditions described, even if you did know the road. You should have been at least 120' behind the bus, probably further since you say you were unfamiliar with the road, it was dark and raining.

              1. Charles 9 Silver badge

                Re: Would someone explain

                No one can keep a gap of 120'. Murphy's Law of the Road says the moment a gap of a car length grows, it'll be immediately filled.

                1. Kiwi Silver badge
                  FAIL

                  Re: Would someone explain

                  No one can keep a gap of 120'. Murphy's Law of the Road says the moment a gap of a car length grows, it'll be immediately filled.

                  And yet intelligent and/or prudent drivers manage to do it all the time. Only bad drivers use what others might do as an excuse for poor driving.

                  In the example give, the bus and 2 cars passed through the lights. If someone had been coming on the cross street seeing the light was green and not expecting to stop, well Mr ICPurvis47 would've been in a world of hurt, or a body bag, and absolutely 100% at fault. He was so close behind the bus he couldn't see the lights let alone that they were changing, especially in an area he didn't know, and went on to try to use his bad driving as an excuse for endangering others!

                  1. Charles 9 Silver badge
                    FAIL

                    Re: Would someone explain

                    "In the example give, the bus and 2 cars passed through the lights. If someone had been coming on the cross street seeing the light was green and not expecting to stop, well Mr ICPurvis47 would've been in a world of hurt, or a body bag, and absolutely 100% at fault."

                    Nope, he'd squeeze around and shoot on through. I got news for you. This is SOP in places like Southeast Asia (say the Philippines) where drivings "laws" are merely suggestions, gridlock is the norm (to the point cars are only given permission to drive certain days of the week dictated by their tags), and Nice Guys Finish Last.

                    1. Kiwi Silver badge
                      Facepalm

                      Re: Would someone explain

                      I got news for you. This is SOP in places like Southeast Asia

                      I got news for you. He wasn't driving in southeast Asia

                      Just because it is done in one place doesn't mean it's right elsewhere.

                      Get off your mind-messing drugs and get some clues about how the world works.

          5. Kiwi Silver badge
            Flame

            Re: Would someone explain

            Red Light Cameras. I first thought they were something else entirely. They detect motion in an intersection during the time all lights are red; photographing the "offenders" license plates as evidence that they ran a red.

            These are a specific case of why the general idea of robotic law enforcement is a bad idea. Our laws and regulations are not refined enough for a mechanical interpretation.

            Spend some time with spewboob watching what happens when some selfish or inattentive fuckwit runs a red.

            Unless the intersection is clear and there's some more pressing emergency (like a truck bearing down on you that clearly cannot stop), stay the fuck out of the intersection. If people in your area can't get it through their heads to stop when they should, maybe you need to press for your police to be encouraged and empowered to do more about it. A few lifetime license bans for a first offence would help, and maybe some summary executions might get the message through.

            At least with RL cameras, some of those who commit one of the most dangerous traffic offences get some form of ticket.

            (Yes I did loose someone to a red-light runner who got a very light sentence, why do you ask?)

        4. Kiwi Silver badge

          Re: Would someone explain

          Either you entered the junction legitimately on amber or you did not. I really do not understand what all the rest of the fuss is about.

          In NZ and many other places amber means "stop unless you're too close to the intersection to do so". If you enter the intersection on amber and the light turns red before you exited, then you had enough time to stop, and therefore deserve a ticket.

          If this guy entered on green, the intersection was clear, and the light changed to amber then red in the time it took him to get through (and he wasn't dawdling) then it's a fair argument. If he was dawdling or the light had changed to amber well before he entered then it's another matter.

          Though I think a big part of the issue was his pointing out his engineering experience in a state where such a thing is not allowed unless the state has licensed you to do so.

          1. Charles 9 Silver badge

            Re: Would someone explain

            In many jurisdictions I know, the point the broken lines turn solid (meaning Do Not Pass) is considered the "make-or-brake" point. If a car is behind the transition point when the light turns yellow, you're expected to have enough distance to come to a stop before crossing the line and MUST therefore stop (if you were behind the transition and shoot on through, you will either be Running the Red because you weren't in time or Racing the Red because the only way you could beat the light in those circumstances would be to break the Speed Limit ) (Racing the Red is a distinct traffic offense equal in severity to Running the Red).

    2. katrinab Silver badge

      Re: Would someone explain

      I'm guessing less scope to slam on the breaks without spinning off the road?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Would someone explain

        BRAKES! (Not breaks).

        1. bpfh Silver badge
          Joke

          Re: Would someone explain

          I don’t know. Misapplication of both Ferrodo and CRLF have caused lots of things to spin out of control and crash

          I’ll get my coat...

        2. MOH

          Re: Would someone explain

          Them's the brakes

        3. hplasm Silver badge
          Headmaster

          Re: Would someone explain

          Heheh break peddles...

          Grr!

    3. cbars

      Re: Would someone explain

      You're allowed a grace period after the amber changes to allow for reaction time, your speed, etc before you are 'infringing'. If the light changes to while you're doing 30(units) and 1cm away from the light, you're going to be infringing without a grace period - and that's unfair. Now, clever Swedish bloke in the US has pointed out that actually, the same is true if you're turning right, but the equation for the grace period doesn't take into account the fact that to turn right is different to going straight, so you need slightly more time to complete the manoeuvre before you should be considered to have deliberately and dangerously run the light.

      HTH

  5. This post has been deleted by its author

  6. ant 2
    Coat

    How many engineers does it take to change a light?

    Between 1 and a whole institute's worth.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: How many engineers does it take to change a light?

      In this case 1 had to change the whole institute. I bet they're ruing the day they took him on.

    2. Disgusted of Cheltenham

      Re: How many engineers does it take to change a light?

      Once upon a time the Swedish lights had amber+green before green, but they had to change to comply with the Common Market. For a really clever system, badly implemented, look to Quebec, where the shape of the light can be used by the colour-blind: Square red, triangle amber, circle green. It would have been much safer to have a red circle to avoid the rest of the world's red circles being mistaken for go. Presumably zero engineers involved in that choice of light change.

      1. J.G.Harston Silver badge

        Re: How many engineers does it take to change a light?

        What's wrong with the standard "if it's at the top, it's red". Don't tell me the idiots put traffic lights on their side.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: How many engineers does it take to change a light?

          You'd be surprised what a little searching can turn up..

          Seems there can be varying reasons for horizontal lights. One of the most practical is vertical clearance, especially if the intersection is frequented by lorries/tractor-trailers which can be tall enough to clip a vertical light. Raising the pole may not be an option due to high winds or low clearances nearby potentially blocking the view. Another reason may be wind: windy places may prefer to mount lights horizontally as it allows for more secure mounting (vertical lights tend to be mounted at only one point on a wire or arm so can swing in strong winds--horizontal lights can allow for two or more mount points).

          Some jurisdictions use different orientations: say putting the turn light horizontal and the straight lights vertical, making it easier for a color-blind individual to distinguish which is which.

  7. Bryan Hall

    Bar graphs

    Instead of this "old fashioned" binary light system - how about two LED bar graph lights?

    One green that starts full then decreases in size until it is time to switch to red.

    One red that then starts full then decreases in size until it is time to go back to green.

    This way you can see approaching just how much time is left and judge (or ignore for idiots) when you need to stop, or can get going again. No more - yellow was too short - arguments.

    1. Killfalcon Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: Bar graphs

      Like a fuel gauge? Best be careful who you hire to implement that, lest you end up with the classic loading bar: "Lights will turn green is 2 days ... 20 seconds ... 2 seconds ... 5 seconds..."

      1. Khaptain Silver badge

        Re: Bar graphs

        Lights will turn green is 2 days ... 20 seconds ... 2 seconds ... 5 seconds..."

        Must have been Microsoft Progress Bar engineer that developed that.

        1. OssianScotland Silver badge

          Re: Bar graphs

          Obligatory XKCD https://xkcd.com/612/

          1. the Jim bloke Silver badge

            Re: XKCD actual traffic lights cartoon

            Obligatory XKCD https://xkcd.com/1116/

            watch it for a while

            1. tfewster Silver badge
              Stop

              Re: XKCD actual traffic lights cartoon

              Even more to the point: https://xkcd.com/277/

    2. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: how about two LED bar graph lights?

      Interesting idea. Alternatively how about a big glass of beer?

      The way you proceed depends on your philosophy. Are you a glass half empty person, or a glass half full type person?

      1. DiViDeD Silver badge

        Re: how about two LED bar graph lights?

        glass half empty ..., or a glass half full

        Personally, I've always felt that the glass is twice as big as it needs to be.

        1. Khaptain Silver badge
          Pint

          Re: how about two LED bar graph lights?

          There's never enough beer in my glass.

  8. Blergh
    Stop

    Timing vs Speed

    What will probably end up happening, instead of changing the yellow light timing, is that the speed limit will just get reduced to fit to the new formula.

    1. Killfalcon Silver badge

      Re: Timing vs Speed

      Aside from having to change all the signs, changing the speed limit forces you retime how long the green lights stay on so you're still having to muck with the lights.

      In a lot of urban light-controlled systems, they're phased to keep traffic flowing at (or slightly below) the speed limit, so changing the limit throws all that off.

      1. heyrick Silver badge

        Re: Timing vs Speed

        "so changing the limit throws all that off"

        Or just understand that timing is probably more a suggestion than a requirement?

        I watched the lights in town today. I swear the amber was on for barely one single second before going to red.

    2. Often Confused

      Re: Timing vs Speed

      Going by the new formula, pretty they would just make it so you are required to drift around corners instead

  9. mark 120

    Wouldn’t it be better

    If the timing changes so that it begins from when the opposing lights turn green rather than when others turn red? If safety is the priority it seems to me it’s more adjustable for various factors that way.

  10. Mr Dogshit

    I thought it was amber rather than yellow.

    1. Spanners Silver badge
      Boffin

      It depends

      How many bit colour do you see in?

      Traditionally, males have 8 bit colour with some artistic types on 16. Females start with 2^32.

      That is why we get such comments as "I wanted fuscia paint. This is scarlet." and "This in not orange, it's peach."

      You and I may see yellow(ish) but the official wavelength is 605nm which is called amber.

      1. DavCrav Silver badge

        Re: It depends

        I am reminded of this xkcd topic, which debunked that particular myth.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: It depends

          Interesting that the most popular colour names from females sound like makeup colours :-)

      2. heyrick Silver badge

        Re: It depends

        I must be female.

        I describe colours using an appropriate word (chartreuse, fuchsia, magnolia paint, cerulean...) and ever so often I get back "you mean green/pink/white/cyan ?".

        Gah. At least try calling chartreuse "snot" or "ectoplasm" or something other than just "green".

        It must really suck to only be capable of understanding things in the context of a handful of distinct (primary and basic blend) colours.

        1. ChrisC

          Re: It depends

          "It must really suck to only be capable of understanding things in the context of a handful of distinct (primary and basic blend) colours."

          As someone with red-green colour deficiencies, my personal take on this is that it only sucks when someone else fails to understand that we don't all have identical colour vision and gets all huffy when you try explaining to them that you genuinely can't tell the difference between colours A and B no matter how many times they tell you they really are different.

          As far as it affecting my own individual progress through life, other than being ruled out from a few career choices I might have been interested in, it rarely crosses my mind *except* when someone else brings it up. Being CVD from birth, I've never known what it would be like to see the world with a more vibrant and varying palette of reds and greens (or any other colours of which these are component parts), so how I view the world is, quite simply, how I view the world. My skies are still blue, my grasses are still green, and my stop lights are still red. I still live in a world of colour, even if I don't necessarily see them in quite the same way as others.

      3. the Jim bloke Silver badge

        Re: It depends

        i know wikipedia is not a reputable source - but its so damn convenient...

        Tetrachromacy - in humans

        "Another study suggests that as many as 50% of women and 8% of men may have four photopigments and corresponding increased chromatic discrimination compared to trichromats"

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tetrachromacy

      4. TRT Silver badge

        Re: It depends

        When I discovered that the orange Central Line on the tube maps is exactly the same colour as a traditional red London bus, you could have coloured me stunned!

        1. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

          Re: When I discovered that the orange Central Line...

          "When I discovered that the orange Central Line on the tube maps is exactly the same colour as a traditional red London bus, you could have coloured me stunned!"

          Wow, you are correct...

          http://content.tfl.gov.uk/tfl-colour-standards-issue04.pdf

          Central linePMS 485C0 M95 Y100 K0R220 G36 B31NCS S 1085-Y80R

          London BusesPMS 485C0 M95 Y100 K0R220 G36 B31NCS S 1085-Y80R

          1. TRT Silver badge

            Re: When I discovered that the orange Central Line...

            Doesn't look it, does it? Well to some people it does.

      5. J.G.Harston Silver badge

        Re: It depends

        8-bit ? Phwfa! If it's not 3-bit RGB it's not a real colour.

    2. Drew Scriver Bronze badge

      Legally, in most US states it is "amber", not "yellow".

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Yeah. You can't get those confused. I mean... just THINK of Paul Hogan in the Fosters advert...

        *swigs*

        "Ah! It tastes like an angel cryin' on yer tongue. Fosters. The yellow nectar."

  11. mihares
    Thumb Up

    One ticket at a time.

    So basically the only way the world has to make the traffic management progress on an empirical basis is to get lucky and give a ticket the correct kind of science/technical person/nerd with an attitude...

    Great!

  12. spold Bronze badge

    Practically....

    Nip down to IKEA for a Swedish set of traffic lights.... According to IKEAs naming guidance I'm guessing they will be called Månader (Swedish for "months" if Goggle is to be believed) - as in how long you will be waiting for a full light change cycle...

  13. Reg T.

    You'll all be walking soon.

    Cars will be banned as they are in areas now. You will be biking, motorbiking, scootering or walking/jogging - but you'll not be allowed an auto unless you are a billionaire or a filthy politician. They can take full stable of motor vehicles (in their private aircraft) on tours of other nations as they browbeat the citizens there about climate change and GW.

    It's all theatre now init?

  14. steven_t
    Stop

    Why you need a longer warning if you are turning

    I read the article and then it took me a while to figure out why you need more time on amber if you are turning. It has nothing to do with coming out the other side of the junction.

    It is because, after a split second of reaction time, you need to make a decision about whether to go or stop. If you are going straight, you have the choice of proceeding at full speed, or stopping. The formula is designed so if you are the critical distance away, you have time to either stop at the line, or pass it at the expected speed. If you are further away, you have to stop. If you are nearer, you have to continue.

    If you are going to turn at the junction, you have the choice between stopping, or decelerating to make the turn. If you are decelerating, it will take longer to reach the stop line than it would at full speed, so you need extra time.

  15. Richard 120
    Devil

    Think Like a Council

    Step 1. Save money by having a single colour changing LED bulb instead of three different lights.

    Step 2. Ensure every traffic light is fitted with a camera and the system for fining people running a light is automated.

    Step 3. Offer a reduction for paying fines promptly.

    Step 4. Make appeals costly and unlikely to succeed.

    Step 5. Introduce a gradual colour fade from Green to Amber to Red so that nobody can be sure of when the actual cut-off point is.

    Step 6. Profit!

    1. Juanito Ibanez

      Re: Think Like a Council

      You forgot:

      Step 7. /sarc

    2. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Think Like a Council

      "Save money by having a single colour changing LED bulb instead of three different lights."

      And get sued for violating disability acts. The main reason for using a discrete light pattern is to address the color-blind. The specific colors help people with color deficiency, but discrete positions are there for those completely color-blind.

    3. TRT Silver badge

      Re: Think Like a Council

      And remove all the forward repeaters to save on maintenance costs. Like they have done everywhere. Bastards.

  16. Blackjack

    Set to change starting oday... may finish in thirty years

    Some countries still use traffic lights that have to be set up manually, how old are those again?

    Not to mention governments everywhere love to use the "not enough budget" excuse to avoid doing something or delaying it as long as possible.

    Two blocks from my house is s dead traffic light, it literally has not worked in over a decade. Did they at least remove it? No.

  17. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
    Go

    Canadaland

    you can gauge when the lights are about to change to amber as the Walk\Don't Walk signs start counting down from 20 for the pavement users.

    That's your cue to:

    Maintain speed\Increase slightly to ensure you clear the line before it gets to red.

    Slow down as you ain't gonna make it.

    At certain approaches they have overhead gantries at a set distance from the lights, if those lights start flashing & you can see them start, so if traveling at legal max speed you have adequate braking time to stop. If you are almost right on top of them when they do so, most people increase speed to ensure they clear them or risk being flattened by the jacked up truck riding their ass.

    1. martinusher Silver badge

      Re: Canadaland

      If you're used to riding motorcycles you learn to never cross an intersection without being able to see whether the side streets are clear or stopped. As someone pointed out above a green signal in the UK means "Proceed with caution", you just can't rely on traffic being stationary just because you've got a green signal, especially if the signal has changed recently.

      The problem with signals in North America is that the boom mounted signals can be seen for some distance. The flashing "prepare to stop" might work for the outer signal but what often happens is that when you get a bunch of signals relatively close together on a road drivers end up reading the wrong one. I've been rear ended (in a car) but someone who didn't notice the signal I was stopped at was red because they were looking at the green one a little distance further along (and with continuous traffic you can't rely on traffic moving to give you a clue as to where the actual stop signal was).

  18. Palpy

    Thank Deities that this kind of discussion --

    -- will soon be moot. AI will run our cars, because a computer is better able to evaluate things like vehicle braking distance on wet roads with a lorry (that's for you Brits) right up your rear bumper and an auto in front of you simultaneously braking for a turn as it drifts into your lane. I mean, driving is really a set of simple and easily computed algorithms, isn't it?

    It is until you start to analyze it. Then, however, we quickly arrive at discussions of possibilities, probabilities, driving psychology, edge cases, confounding factors, and so on. Just as in the above comments.

    To add another regional traffic whinge: Where I live it's common at busy intersections for drivers wanting to turn left across the oncoming lane to pull out and essentially park in the intersection until the lights go red, stopping traffic. Then they turn. Sometimes two or three cars will be stopped in the middle of a particularly wide and busy intersection. And since the oncoming traffic in the lane the drivers wish to turn across is also pushing the red, the green signal for cross-traffic may be lit for 20 or 30 seconds before other drivers have a clear intersection and can proceed. I doubt that it's legal to block an intersection in this way, but "everybody does it".

  19. martinusher Silver badge

    Well known revenue enhancment technique

    The city of San Diego shaved yellow light times to catch people with red light cameras but fell foul of a state law that requires signals to stay at yellow for at least 7 seconds. They not only had to expunge tickets but pay people back.

    Yellow light times will be different from the amber phase in the UK because there's no red+yellow start phase on US signals -- like many countries they change directly from red to green which means you have to be aware of traffic in the intersection (or likely to jump the yellow) to avoid a collision.

  20. Danny 2 Silver badge

    Lewis traffic lights causing delays

    https://www.pressandjournal.co.uk/fp/news/372064/lewis-traffic-lights-causing-delays/

    The Press and Journal is being kind to Stornoway here. When their first traffic light was installed the locals would approach slowly, expecting it to change suddenly. They'd then turn off their engines at a red light. When they noticed it had changed back to green they'd go to start up their cars, and if they were lucky they'd get one or two cars through before it changed back to red again.

    And where The Press and Journal describe "the busy approach to Stornoway", obviously it is not London or Edinburgh busy. It's not even East Calder busy. They had to slow down the speed of the traffic lights until they got used to the concept because the lights had caused traffic jams where there were none before.

  21. Rombizio

    Correction

    "Provided a way to prove his hypothesis."

    Or "Provided a way to confirm his theories".

    Once your hypotthesis is proven it becomes theory. If it is a theory already it is simply confirmed by additional experiements from independent researchers.

  22. Alan Hope

    Surely you don't need to change the amber light timing, just add a tiny delay to the time the red light camera gets triggered.

  23. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

    Ticket revenue

    Oregon has a number of cities depending on traffic tickets for revenue. The speed limits are very low and there's a parked officer with a radar gun everywhere. Have they also changed traffic laws to game traffic lights for profit? Here in California, a red light means you can't enter the intersection (or stop in it). It's perfectly legal to enter on yellow and finish driving through on red. Mega-intersections have a delay between the red light and next green light to allow traffic to clear. It's also not legal to cut off cross traffic that is still exiting.

  24. Jason "Foxdie" Gaunt

    Funny how stories like this come up when you've been thinking about this only a few days before..

    There's a set of traffic lights installed only a few years ago on a national speed limit dual carriageway on the A617 near Mansfield, it's a fast road section where doing the NSL is perfectly safe for all but one section; the aforementioned traffic lights are at the bottom of a downhill run and partially obscured by trees.

    There's a point when approaching these lights at NSL that, if they change, there isn't enough time at amber to stop safely for the red. Some people simply sail through the red, others have let tyre smoke out trying to stop in time.

    I acknowledge that the best practice should be to slow down as soon as you see the lights, but let's be honest very few people do that. If the amber on those lights was increased to 4.5 seconds, I heartily believe that this junction would be much safer.

    TL;DR, amber times should factor in the time to stop based on the road speed and conditions.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      "TL;DR, amber times should factor in the time to stop based on the road speed and conditions."

      I thought they did, as per an earlier post I wrote, but I know see that there is a specified 3 second duration.

  25. Carpet Deal 'em Bronze badge

    Looking at it, the problem isn't the timing of the yellow lights so much as the fact that merely being in the intersection earns a fine. The length of the yellow/amber/go very fast light becomes less relevant if vehicles already in the intersection are allowed to evacuate after the light changes(preferably formalized with an all-way red phase) - and, speaking frankly, I don't see a justification for the former except as a revenue machine.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    OK I don't get this. Maybe in the US things are different, but his argument if I'm reading it correctly is that if you enter the junction (sorry, intersection) intending to make a turn then you need the amber light to stay on longer. But (here in the UK at least) you are only breaking the law if you cross the line when the light is red. The important bit being cross the line. Not exit the junction, but enter the junction.

    If anything it will be easier to stop in time if you are approaching the lights intending to make a turn simply because in that scenario you will be travelling more slowly.

  27. DougS Silver badge

    The real fix for red light tickets

    Is to eliminate them, and increase the 'all red' timing. After all, the city should really be after improved safety rather than making money, right? Right??

    Fortunately there are no red light cameras where I live, or speed cameras, but nearby cities have them. There are cameras on many of the major intersections so they can see/count traffic flow and accidents, etc. One of the first things they did after putting those up was to go from 0 or 1 second of 'all red' time to 2 seconds at most intersections.

    There are very few cases of people just going through a red that was already red as they approached the intersection. Almost always it is people rushing through a yellow that turns red on them. While they probably deserve tickets, and will get them if a cop sees them do that, they won't cause accidents since the people waiting on a green have to wait two seconds to get it. More than enough time for even the stupidest yellow light gunners to get through.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The real fix for red light tickets

      "Is to eliminate them, and increase the 'all red' timing. After all, the city should really be after improved safety rather than making money, right? Right??"

      Tell that to the accountants. Budgets have to be met, and many have to be balanced by law, and there are local concerns that must be paid for (police, fire departments, schools, sanitation, etc.), yet the moment you try to raise taxes, you either get irate citizens threatening to move out or you're blocked upstairs (some state governments can dictate tax terms to localities). How does one propose to solve a budget crunch without getting complaints for bad services, complaints for bad taxes, and so on.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    On my travels in the 1970s there were several different traffic light models.

    Many countries used the USA system of green-amber-red-amber-green. Which left amber meaning either "going to red" or "going to green". Unlike the British system where amber means "going to red" - and you get red AND amber together for "going to green".

    In France they had only the flashing amber "go if safe" during the evening on small intersections in town.

    In Scandinavia they had a similar system in the evening on some roads. Otherwise Sweden used the USA system for red/amber/green - with pedestrians getting a "walk" signal while traffic was allowed to turn at a junction. There was talk of using the safer British system which was patently unambiguous.

    Norway had some systems where there was a series of digital annunciators indicating the speed you should be travelling at in order to get green at the next set of lights. When the number started dropping you knew you were going to stop.

    South Africa used both the US A and British system for their "robots" - depending on the history of the town or city. Afrikaner Pretoria used the USA system - and also economised on the number of traffic light posts. So when you approached a junction the traffic lights were on a post ONLY on the far side of the crossing road. This meant you had to gauge the width of the intersecting road to get your stopping distance right. When that road was a major multi-lane highway - in the dark you were liable to find yourself stopped in the middle of one of its lanes. Those areas using the British system sensibly had a post on each corner. The areas also chose to mark their speed limits with signs in either kmph or mph.

    On a visit to China in the 1990s - it was disappointing to find that they used green for "go". There was an apocryphal story that in the Cultural Revolution it had been ordained that red should be used for "go".

  29. brakepad

    Has anyone ever noticed...

    ... that some junctions work surprisingly well when the traffic lights aren't working at all? The sight of a set of traffic lights that aren't lit suddenly makes everybody pay attention.

    1. Mike007

      Re: Has anyone ever noticed...

      Example: roundabouts with traffic lights ON THE ROUNDABOUT.

      1. jmch Silver badge

        Re: Has anyone ever noticed...

        "roundabouts with traffic lights ON THE ROUNDABOUT"

        Sounds obscene, but occasionally is required. I remember one such roundabout without traffic lights. When I was growing up, traffic was not so heavy and roundabout worked fine. The roundabout had 4 approach roads, the 2 opposite ones being the 'main' ones and the 2 at right angles to them being relatively less used. But one of the minor roads had much more traffic going into it than coming out.

        Over the years traffic increased until the amount of cars exiting on the 'minor' branch were blocking all the cars that were trying to enter the roundabout from one of the 'major' branches. Traffic lights had to be introduced to allow a 'fairer' traffic flow. Recently the junction was upgraded to a proper flyover to allow continuous flow on the 'main' axis.

        Roundabouts can work very well as long as their size is proportional to the traffic flow around them. If they're too small / too busy, they'll get blocked, and traffic lights can ease the flow

        1. Danny 2 Silver badge

          Re: Has anyone ever noticed...

          I grew up in a 'new town' designed so pedestrians never had to cross a road, with no traffic lights and a surfeit of roundabouts. When the corporation that controlled it was ended and the town was absorbed into the local council funding dried up. So now there are many roundabouts with traffic lights, many pedestrian traffic lights, and huge traffic jams in a town too small to merit them.

          That's annoying, but I hate it more in a rich city like Edinburgh. There are huge traffic jams every working morning approaching the city caused partly (I'd argue mainly) due to lack of investment in the city on pedestrian bridges, underpasses, and roundabouts.

          Gorgie Road is a prime example. Technically it's part of the A71, a major arterial route used by many commuters because the out-of-town bus service is so poor, yet it has six sets of traffic lights in less than half a mile. Locals don't even walk to the pedestrian crossings, they just cross anywhere and expect traffic to stop. It's designated a 20mph zone but during the day 20mph is aspirational, which contributes to terrible air pollution.

          I've a friend who is a well to do (posh) English poet who asked me for help with an Extinction Rebellion protest in Edinburgh. I gave him general advice on how to safely conduct NVDA but I also told him there was an easier way. They have all these school kids doing climate strikes, so just place one at each pedestrian crossing in the city crossing the road repeatedly all day long. That would block the city more effectively than lock-on tubes and tripods.

          1. J.G.Harston Silver badge

            Re: Has anyone ever noticed...

            "I grew up in a 'new town'..."

            I bet I know where. What's it called....? :)

            (People of a certain vintage will get this immediately)

        2. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

          Re: "roundabouts with traffic lights ON THE ROUNDABOUT"

          How big is your roundabout?

          Hyde Park Corner is a roundabout... and has traffic lights.

          Hanger Lane Gyratory is a roundabout... and has some traffic lights.

          The M25 is a roundabout... not sure whether it has any traffic lights.

          "When I was growing up, traffic was not so heavy"

          I remember when The Polish War Memorial, The Target, and The Bridge Hotel were all roundabouts (on the A40, way back when...).

  30. Some Random Kiwi
    Go

    references for signal timing and signage

    For the US, you can download a free copy of the Signal Timing Manual, DOI 10.17226/22097 which presumably will change at some point because of this case. Another generally interesting guide is the Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices which details the US standard signs and road markings and their permitted usage and placement. Some US states have state specific additions to this, but they're generally small. If you're arguing with city government about the idiotic placement of a sign it generally works pretty well to be able to quote the MUTCD section it.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: references for signal timing and signage

      State Supplements will typically only address signage specific to that state: mostly state highway markers and advisory signs for features specific to that state. For example, the US and Interstate highway markers are defined in the base MUTCD whereas highway markers for a given state (say New York's) will be defined in the State Supplement.

  31. Ivan van Ogre

    Please round it up to an even 5 seconds. This would help pedestrians a lot.

    The way it is now you see the Walk sign turn on, you look down to step off the curb and when you

    look back up the Do Not Walk sign is already up, and you've only just stepped out into the street!

    1. North

      The pedestrians, already have a 20-30 second count down, on pedestrian lights.

      How much more do you need to spoon feed it to them?

      They assume people are stupid, maybe they are right?

      maybe we just need a count down timer on the green light.

      It does not matter if there is a count down timer on the green, or a 20 second timer on on the yellow.

      The same drivers, are still going through with .01 seconds remaining.

      Slow down. Think a little.

  32. swm Silver badge

    In Boston traffic signals are merely a suggestion.

  33. Pangasinan Philippines

    Ready....Steady . . . . .Stay where you are!

    Here in Manila lights can change many times before you even get to the line.

    At least there is usually a countdown so you know how long before the next cycle.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Ready....Steady . . . . .Stay where you are!

      Which is usually bogus, especially in the rush hours as the normal state for a car in Metro Manila is "stopped and surrounded". If you're ever going to take a trip that goes through Metro Manila (especially if it involves using the infamous circuit road Epifanio de los Santos Avenue--EDSA for short),go early.

  34. Juanito Ibanez

    Of course it depends upon the individual states' traffic laws, but here in Texas once a vehicle enters the intersection under the "Yellow" [Caution] light ... even if it's only the front bumper ... that vehicle legally "owns" the intersection until the vehicle clears the intersection ... even if the traffic signal then shows "Green" to the opposing traffic and the first vehicle is still in the intersection. If a "crossing" vehicle collides with the first vehicle, the driver of the "crossing" vehicle is guilty of "Failure to Yield Right-of-Way" ... the "Green" light notwithstanding.

    Unfortunately, "Red Light" cameras are not set up to distinguish the difference, hence the banning of these cameras here statewide:

    Red-light cameras are now banned in Texas

    abc13.com/gov-abbott-signed-a-bill-that-will-ban-red-light-cameras/4519198

  35. Pooua

    Or, you could do what Texas does, and say that you aren't running a red light as long as your front wheels have entered the intersection before the light turns red.

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sod that just keep the damn things green longer. Or switch them off completely.

  37. cortland

    I need to take this up with my Michigan State representative; it's possible to enter an intersection on green and have the light go through yellow to red before one gets around the corner.

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    An extra 1.5 seconds on yellow around these parts means another 10 cars will try to beat the red light.

    Let's see if "Speed On Green" when it goes national will stop red light runners.

  39. Darren Forster

    I do like the French idea of traffic light set ups - they seem to have the yellow light just right.

    Going from green to red you have the normal green-yellow-red phase to give you chance to slow down, however when going from red to green you just get red and then green.... Brilliant idea 'cos if you're watching the opposite traffic lights as they are changing you can be ready to go! go! go! When going from red to green you don't really need that interim yellow bit because after all what's it for? You're not telling cars at that stage to slow down you want them to speed up at that stage!

    Also in some areas when the junction is quiet like at night they move to a flashing amber mode. This flashing amber mode in effect turns the junction into a general give way junction. There are times at night in Telford on some of the roundabouts they could do with this as sometimes you're sat at a red light on the roundabout at like midnight waiting for the ghost car to drive through and you're thinking why do these traffic lights have their sensors angled so badly??? At this time of night when it's absolutely dead on those roundabouts why not just turn them off and save electric 'cos they're not needed - and then you see all the signs in Telford advising people not to jump the lights and to drive up slowly - I've tried driving up to them even at about 5mph they're still on red with nothing there - and you think no wonder people are jumping these things if the sensors have been set up so badly!

  40. desmo

    What an a-hole. Running a light needs higher fines and shorter 'grace' periods, not longer

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      >What an a-hole. Running a light needs higher fines and shorter 'grace' periods, not longer

      Expect more emergency stop braking at traffic lights then and a 44 tonne lorry slamming into the back of you, everything has unintended consequences. Personally I'd like to see higher fines for failure to indicate as this is a safety feature that is vastly overlooked by the authorities in their quest for easy fine money as it's harder to police.

      1. Kiwi Silver badge

        Expect more emergency stop braking at traffic lights then and a 44 tonne lorry slamming into the back of you, everything has unintended consequences.

        Instead of making excuses for stupid drivers, how about working to make the driving better?

        In NZ the law is not to be in the intersection when the lights are red. So if they're changing and you're far enough back, we know to slow down. Don't even need RL cameras for this (in fact I think we have 1 such camera).

        We seem to manage millions of "stopping before the light goes red" events every day without worrying about our truckies (who tend to be better than most average cagers) or even the average cager hitting you.

        Get your nation's drivers doing a proper job and you won't have these problems. Stop making excuses for idiots!

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Some people can't be taught to fish but still have spouses and kids to feed. Sometimes, the better solution is to just let it slide rather than risk more serious unintended consequences.

  41. Guzlr

    UK traffic light rules

    I'm confused... I was under the impression that (in the UK) the rule is that your vehicle must have completely crossed the stop line before the light turns red. Nothing about clearing the junction though. For example, if there's queueing traffic it's OK to enter the junction and stop in the queue, unless there's a yellow cross hatching on the ground. I'm sure rules vary per country, but that's my understanding in the UK - or have I been driving 'illegally' for 35 years?

  42. murakh
    Facepalm

    Design complications

    Curious as to why there are so many suggestions of adding an additional light (colour)

    There are already 3^3 options (Red, amber, green. On, off, flashing) shirely it would be much easier to implement one of the existing options onto the existing equipment?

    Yes, I've seen counters (not always true seconds though), flashing red or green when about to change, and also amber and red or amber and green. So they are all possible and already in use.

    So why the jump to making it even more complicated?

  43. ccomley

    Probably doesn't affect the UK

    I don't know about Oregon or "the world" but in the UK, the amber light means "STOP", not "get on with it quickly". But, less well known, the red (and amber) lights mean "Stop short of the white line" (or, in the case of temporary traffic lights, the red sign saying "stop before this sign") and if you are already over the line you may continue (with care!) and, indeed, SHOULD continue if you would otherwise block the junction by stopping. So I suspect the incident that sparked this would not have resulted in a ticket if the lady were already over the line when it went amber, and if she crossed after it went amber then the ticket is still valid.

    1. Danny 2 Silver badge

      Re: Probably doesn't affect the UK

      If you stop on an amber in the Netherlands then someone will rear-end you. Dutch folk are forever rear-ending you, pun unavoidable, and have a very bad reputation with German drivers.

      If you leave a car space between your vehicle and the one in front then someone will fill it. You never see two car crashes there, it's always twenty vehicles. If anyone just taps their break pedal then the car behind breaks harder and the cumulative delay is a pile-up.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: Probably doesn't affect the UK

        "If you stop on an amber in the Netherlands then someone will rear-end you."

        So what happens when a bunch of them start suing the rear-enders for whiplash and so on?

  44. Danny 2 Silver badge

    Grind ma gears - Peter Griffin type road rage rant

    One of the first lessons in my college electronics course was to build and code a traffic light system. Using LEDs and a 6502 processor. Easy peasy, so why hasn't anyone who actually builds traffic lights learned this? I loathe when I approach a traffic light and it turns red for no apparent reason. It offends the innate sense of justice all pack animals have, even dogs.

    If there was a car or pedestrian waiting then fine, no problem, that is civilisation, but half the time I get stopped by a traffic light there is nobody else there. It's on a timer. When there is nobody else there it changes back to you more quickly, but still, why the timer, why the stop? I used to just run such stops, but now they have cameras I have to stop and contribute more to air pollution.

    I learned that many US traffic lights can be changed by an emergency vehicle using an infrared light strobe, and some by a sub road magnetic signal. I have no problem with that and so I built such a device to test if it works in the UK. It doesn't. Our police cars, fire engines and ambulances just run red lights just like they break any other laws, and most of us are okay with that.

    I'm sure we've all seen ignorant drivers holding up emergency vehicles in the UK. Legally you can be charged for pulling over for them if you are breaking the law by pulling over, which is just Ass, but most (many) of us are decent. and sensible as are the courts.

    1. J.G.Harston Silver badge

      Re: Grind ma gears - Peter Griffin type road rage rant

      You don't need a CPU for traffic lights. One of my early-teens electronics projects was a traffic light controller, it was just a four-bit counter and some logic, as there's only four states: red, red+amber, green, amber, and longer states for red and green. I made it with small LEDs that fitted into LEGO(tm) bricks.

    2. Kiwi Silver badge

      Re: Grind ma gears - Peter Griffin type road rage rant

      When there is nobody else there it changes back to you more quickly, but still, why the timer, why the stop?

      Simples. Not every vehicle has a large enough EMF footprint to trigger the magnetic based sensors, and camera/IR based sensors can also fail easily enough. The timer is there so people stuck at the lights have some hope of getting through, stopping light runners

      I used to just run such stops, but now they have cameras I have to stop and contribute more to air pollution.

      Don't run red lights unless you have a decent excuse. Bikes where there's only an inductive sensor and it's not changing might be OK, and if a truck is bearing down on you clearly not stopping and you can see you're safe, fine. Otherwise no excuses, turn around and go back another way (or perhaps ring the local plod and ask if they can give you some help). No excuses for running a red.

      I learned that many US traffic lights can be changed by an emergency vehicle using an infrared light strobe, and some by a sub road magnetic signal. I have no problem with that and so I built such a device to test if it works in the UK. It doesn't. Our police cars, fire engines and ambulances just run red lights just like they break any other laws, and most of us are okay with that.

      I believe we have that in NZ now as well (noticed some new devices on local lights, then saw a YT vid where similar looking devices in the US were mentioned). My understanding on it is not so much directly for the EV but also to allow any other traffic in the intersection to clear, allowing the EV through. ICBW as my information is from less-than-reliable sources but it does make sense, no good if the ambo can run the lights if there's a row of cars in front of them that can't move.

      I've also noticed in recent months where they're on a bridge or in an area where other road users could not safely get out of the way, they turn the lights/sirens off. That I guess is because of people stopping in bad places (potentially) causing even more problems.

  45. J.G.Harston Silver badge

    As I said in the original article, engineer is essentially "methodical thinker", Oregon was banning people from thinking.

  46. Kiwi Silver badge
    Flame

    Timing over these ways..

    In NZ a yellow means "stop if you can do so safely before entering the intersection, otherwise go through", red means "You've just put someone's life in danger due to your stupidity/selfishness" (ok - actually means "you should damn well be stopped by now!).

    The timing is set so that a decent aware driver could see the change, calculate if they can safely stop in time or not, plus a second or two more. It varies for highway speeds (100km), main roads (60-80), in town (30-50) and road works (30 or 80).

    Many of our light-controlled intersections have left/right turning lights as well, which help move a greater amount of traffic.

    There's a couple of T intersections with major roads that I go through often where the light will go green for the traffic turning right off the T a second before the one for those going left - reason is there's a large traffic island and it gives a little more time for traffic on the main/straight through road to clear.

    Closest I ever came to being taken out by an idiot ignoring lights was a T intersection with 2 lanes turning right. I was in the left lane and a truck was in the right lane (truck I assume was turning right off the main road a little further down). When the lights changed I couldn't see any traffic thanks to the truck so waited an extra second then went. The truck of course took longer to move, which I now know now was probably hesitating not just being big and heavy and hard to get going. As soon as I cleared the truck, oh fuck a stupid bloody pig about to blow through the intersection - lights on but no sirens, stupid dumb fuck. Had the idiot driver had their siren on, even if just for the intersection, I would've known they were somewhere very near and waited till they were past or I knew where they were. It wasn't exactly in a residential area, but even if it was I'm sure at that time of the evening the local's would've preferred a few seconds of siren to the mess such a crash would've caused.

    (For those interested, our basic sequence is red->green, green-> amber. amber-> red. We have, no signal for "about to go" other than local knowledge (still watch as patterns can change through the day or sometimes change after years) and being able to see what other traffic is doing)

  47. This post has been deleted by its author

  48. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Withdraw

    ? Exit the intersection ?

    The legal question is whether you entered the intersection after the light turned red.

    If you are in the intersection you can take as much time as you need to complete the turn safely.

    Note that there is about a 2 second delay between the red light and the crossing green light.

    1. Kiwi Silver badge

      If you are in the intersection you can take as much time as you need to complete the turn safely.

      Not here you can't. In NZ it's illegal to enter an intersection unless your exit is clear, otherwise you block the intersection for other users. If you cannot completely exit the intersection then don't enter it.

      We're generally smart enough we don't rear-end each other just because we cannot understand why the car in front is still stopped on a green, especially where we can see that the other side of the intersection is blocked.

  49. Mattmattic

    I have seen lights when they accidentally show red and amber at the same time. And even more worrying when all four lights at the junction show green and there's a hell of a crash between vehicles coming from all four directions.

  50. Luiz Abdala Bronze badge
    Go

    FULL TIMER next to the traffic lights.

    A small city called São Caetano Do Sul in Brazil simply placed A TIMER next to the solid green / yellow / red lights. Full blown 90 seconds red lights, Full 85 greens, Full 5 seconds for yellows. BIG DIGITAL DISPLAYS counting down, now replaced by LEDs.

    You know exactly what is going to happen, and when it is going to happen. Not a single person feels the need to gun that yellow. It gives you a lot of confidence.

    The city has, coincidentally, the largest GM plant in Brazil, and the most important Technical School of Engineering, 2 blocks down from where these lights operate. I went to that school for five years, not a single accident on those crossings after the timers were put in place.

    The city has the 3rd Quality of Life in the Country, and the 5th GDP per capita. Streets are impeccably clean, it doesn't feel like Brazil there.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: FULL TIMER next to the traffic lights.

      "You know exactly what is going to happen, and when it is going to happen. Not a single person feels the need to gun that yellow. It gives you a lot of confidence."

      Does it? Or is it the fear of consequences should you run that red? I'd love to hear the traffic codes for that area as well.

  51. Kay Burley ate my hamster

    Self driving

    Self driving cars are the answer, I hope to see in my lifetime a ban on manual driving in cities. The car knowing how long till the lights change will stop on amber if there isn't time to cross the junction. The cars behind will know the car in front is stopping.

    No more speeding, no more fines, no more road rage, no more deliberate road deaths.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Self driving

      Until someone hacks the cars to cheat. Where there are humans, there will be cheaters.

  52. North

    If you ran the red light, you ran the red light. Settle down, slow down, and stop blaming the world for poor choices.

    It would not have mattered if the yellow light were 28 seconds.

    The same people would be trying to push through on the last .01 of a second.

    The Human intelegence. mind blowing.

    Pedestrian lights, need a count down on them to warn people how long until the light flashes, and then turns red. OH MY GOD THINK people.

    People too dull to understand a stale red light.

    Maybe we need a count down on the green light, because people are too stupid?

    Simple storry.

    Light turned yellow, I figured I was close enough to go through, or risk stopping to abruptly. (I could have stopped)

    Good thing I did not stop.

    The car behind me went.

    AND the car behind him.

    Driving should be a right earned.

    Not everyone deserves to be driving.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      So what happens to those who MUST drive to make a living AND have a spouse and kids to feed?

      Privileges become more problematic when there are lives attached to them.

      1. Kiwi Silver badge

        So what? As I've said to you elsewhere, endanger lives you loose the privileged to drive.

        What, you're really so stupid as to think that someone's bad driving can be excused just because they have a job?

        What of the other road users? Don't their spouses and kids matter? What makes your driver so special that their driving privileges should be greater than the right to not be hurt by some selfish idiot's driving? What of your driver's victims? Does your driver's privilege of driving to work outweigh the right of these kids to have a father or mother?

        How do you justify that? Come on, give us some real justification for how someone who endangers lives should be allowed to keep driving an keep putting others at risk. Give us some justification of how them feeding their kids is more important than someone who actually drives decently without abusing drugs or road rules. Face up to Owen Fraser and tell him how his husband's life matters so much less valuable than the job of the fleeing driver who killed him. Tell their families how the killer shouldn't be punished because driving to work is so much more important than other people being able to live. Tell the that to the families of the others in the car, at least one of which is till in a coma and may never wake up. Tell that person's mother how the driver's job is more important than their kid's life.

        Lets see you try and justify this.

        For that matter, tell us (other than in your doped-up little mind) where in the world there is a slave market where people MUST drive to make a living? Where is this? Come on, name the place. Facts and figures.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          "For that matter, tell us (other than in your doped-up little mind) where in the world there is a slave market where people MUST drive to make a living?"

          I LIVE in it. It's called the United States of America. 350M+ people living in an area of a bit over 3M sq mi (not counting Alaska). Some places can get rather sparse (especially in the interior), and those places ALSO have a slant towards self-sufficiency (meaning if you can't get your way around 15 milies, uphill each way because you have to cross a valley, you are SOL, so FOAD). There are plenty of victims of circumstance.Here's one story of a breadwinner sent to prison leaving a wife and kids behind. And note, he HAD to drive for a living: he was a trucker whose skill sets don't readily translate to other industries.

          1. Kiwi Silver badge

            Wow. You really think the kids should be left with a violently abusive alcoholic?

            You really are disgustingly clueless and willing to defend all sorts of abuse just to try and win an argument aren't you?

            But you still haven't managed to justify how people like the disgusting child-beating alcoholic you linked to is worth more than any one else who has mouths to feed. Why should he be allowed to go out and earn money so he can get drunk enough to beat his kids when it places other people who don't waste their money on booze and don't beat their kids are put at risk as a result?

            And you really think a violent drunk - a person who has shown he has no sense of self-control and is such a wonderful person he's violent towards autistic kids - you think that's someone who should be allowed to be driving several tons of machine? You actually think this person should be allowed out in public and driving heavy trucks around others? He's so worthless he gets drunk and beats up handicapped kids, and this is your best effort at justifying your claims?

            As to slavery in the USA, don't you think you should get off your whiney little arse and do something about completely ending it instead of trying to use the fact that "bad stuff happens" as an excuse to sit around on your whiney little arse crying about the bad stuff that happens? It's up to you to improve your area. You're doing a poor job of it by posting your false claims on here.

            [deleted my response to your baseless attack on truckers (a common family trade[1] I myself dabbled in for a few months in the early '90s before the lure of better money for less hours drew me away)- suffice to say I didn't actually think my opinion on your intelligence, experience and worthiness could get any lower but with this post you've shown a whole new level of selfish dumbness]

          2. JohnFen Silver badge

            "It's called the United States of America."

            This isn't true in the entire nation. For instance, I know more than a few people who haven't owned cars in many years, and they don't suffer hardship because of it.

  53. j.bourne
    Paris Hilton

    OK, So I must be dumb.

    The red light camera should (in theory) only catch people that cross the line when the light is red. As long as the light is green when you enter the junction, why should there be a time limit on turning? In the UK unless it's a yellow box junction then you could legitimately be sat in the junction waiting for the exit road to clear (turning in either direction). The lights may turn red in the meantime. It's not so much a problem with timing of applying a penalty - more a problem of logical thinking.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      In other jurisdictions (such as New Zealand and various US states), the intersection itself ("the box") MUST flow free. Someone in the intersection when the cycles changes blocks the cross-traffic, creating a gridlock risk. The laws in those cases state one is NOT supposed to enter the intersection until one is sure he/she can clear it before the cycle changes. The idea being one shouldn't ENTER the intersection until one is sure one can also EXIT it.

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