It must be a quiet news day in the UK as the new traffic policy ideas from the Conservative Party have hit the press, piloted by none other than that die-hard eurosceptic John Redwood. The bold idea is that drivers should be allowed to turn left at a junction even if the traffic light is red – see this article from the BBC. Apparently this system is employed in some states in the USA. Now, I have never seen it in action there, and it might well work OK. But what about pedestrians crossing, and also on very confusing junctions? Further, I have an additional inkling that Redwood is happy to take the US example as – after all – he loves the USA far more than he loves Europe.
Now, I am the opposite of Redwood, being quite a fan of the EU. But I have also wondered why traffic lights in the UK work differently to those in almost all other European Union countries. At cross-roads or junctions in most EU countries, cars turning right and pedestrians crossing the side road are allowed to go at the same time. The pedestrians get the priority, and if the pedestrian crossing is clear, the cars can go. Introducting this in the UK would eliminate the wasteful 30 or so seconds each time the green man shows at a junction and presently stops all the traffic. With the roads in so many UK towns close to gridlock, an extra 30 seconds of traffic flow every few minutes might make quite a difference.