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Wednesday, October 23, 2019

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.

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I remember when this story first broke. This is a good result for him and for all of us.

#1 | Posted by Hagbard_Celine at 2019-10-23 10:55 AM | Reply | Newsworthy 1

For the record, the engineer's name is: Mats Jarlstrom, with an umlaut (double dots) over the "a" and "o" of his last name.

The character-elves dropped the letters when I left the umlauts in place.

#2 | Posted by LampLighter at 2019-10-23 11:02 AM | Reply

Good deal. We have one here where there are 2 left turn lanes 1 straight and 1 right turn lane. The straight splits into 2 lanes immediately after crossing the intersection causing people to think they can use the right turn lane to go straight. This causes slammed brakes etc. in the middle of the intersection. It also causes people unfamiliar with the intersection to go very slowly through it as they figure out which lane they need to be in.

We actually had a case here about it. The yellow was not lengthened but the time before the red light camera goes off was extended. That of course reduces the tickets caused by a confusing intersection but does nothing for safety so maybe this will help.

There is another light on a 45mph road immediately around a turn and an embankment so you do not see the light until you are about 5 car lengths from it (going 45) if it is yellow when you round the embankment you won't be able to stop and will end up with a red light ticket. I got one that way I talked with a friend who is RPD and he said yeah that light nails more drivers than any other light in Raleigh. I went to court and argued that it was too quick for the visibility conditions. I lost and don't have the time or patience to pursue it for 6 years, but maybe Mats hard work will pay off on that one as well.

#3 | Posted by TaoWarrior at 2019-10-23 11:06 AM | Reply

This is a good result for him and for all of us.
#1 | POSTED BY HAGBARD_CELINE

I disagree ... long yellows means more people will push the limit and attempt to run it.

I am all for traffic/redlight cameras, the death and destruction of running the gauntlet is to great for such little reward.

#4 | Posted by AndreaMackris at 2019-10-23 11:07 AM | Reply

That of course reduces the tickets caused by a confusing intersection but does nothing for safety so maybe this will help.

perhaps a better design ... blaming the length of the yellow is silly.

I would add there were probably very few tickets, traffic enforcement has been dropping in many metro areas .. .Deaths are up....
www.sfchronicle.com
www.stltoday.com
www.denverpost.com
www.wcpo.com

Good luck with that...

#5 | Posted by AndreaMackris at 2019-10-23 11:10 AM | Reply

I read an article once that talked about how traffic circles were (unexpectedly) safer than traffic lights.

the gist of it was:
traffic lights are a system, a machine, etc. and human's by nature are encouraged to push the boundaries, cheat the system, resulting in running reds.
the nature of traffic circles force drivers to come to an agreement with each other as they concede right of way etc. resulting in less accidents.

(I know, i hear you, traffic circles could be a gateway to other things...drum circles?? so let's nip this communist plot in the bud.)

#6 | Posted by schifferbrains at 2019-10-23 11:26 AM | Reply

@#4 ... ong yellows means more people will push the limit and attempt to run it. ...

I do not necessarily conflate the length of yellow with the number of people attempting to run it.

What is the relationship? If the length of the yellow is doubled, does that mean that twice as many people will try to run it?

And what is your definition of "running it?"

#7 | Posted by LampLighter at 2019-10-23 11:27 AM | Reply

#7

Our resident small government republican shows their colors again. Nanny state for my pet peeves but welfare for the poor is big government.

I also don't see the relationship. Yellow lets you know it's about to turn red so you can use your judgement to stop or go through. Longer just increases your options and reduces the chance that you will have to slam on the brakes.

#5

None of those articles were about my city which had fewer traffic fatalities in 2017 than 2016.

#6

God yes traffic circles are awesome if it wasn't for the cost I would say replace every intersection with a traffic circle. Here we have had a couple of major problem intersections replaced with traffic circles, maybe that's why fatalities are down :)

#8 | Posted by TaoWarrior at 2019-10-23 11:47 AM | Reply

@#8 ... Yellow lets you know it's about to turn red so you can use your judgement to stop or go through. Longer just increases your options and reduces the chance that you will have to slam on the brakes. ...

Another concern I have is a short yellow on intersections with red-light cameras. I've seen articles where the yellow was so short that it started to look as if the city/town wanted to catch people with the camera going through a red, for revenue purposes.

The length of the yellow should be appropriate for the safety of the intersection. Period. Not so short as to trigger false positives on the red light cameras, and not so long as to take up an outsized amount of time in the cycle.


... God yes traffic circles are awesome if it wasn't for the cost I would say replace every intersection with a traffic circle. ...

I agree abuot the circles being better, but many places just do not have the physical space to put a traffic circle at every intersection.

#9 | Posted by LampLighter at 2019-10-23 11:58 AM | Reply | Newsworthy 1

Here in Ft. Lauderdale our Mayor ran for office saying he was going to get the timing of our traffic lights changed. I voted for him on that basis. He hasn't done anything that I can see. The lights take so long to change that it is crazy. On most intersections you can see that the main street is busy but eventually the bulk of the traffic will go through the light but the light doesn't change for a long time after that.

#10 | Posted by danni at 2019-10-23 12:42 PM | Reply

Advertisement

Advertisement

6 Cities That Were Caught Shortening Yellow Light Times For Profit
www.motorists.org

...Short yellow light times at intersections have been shown to increase the number of traffic violations and accidents. Conversely, increasing the yellow light duration[1] can dramatically reduce red-light violations at an intersection.

Some local governments have ignored the safety benefit of increasing the yellow light time and decided to install red-light cameras, shorten the yellow light duration[2], and collect the profits instead.

Here are some of the cities that have been caught with short yellow light times over the past few years:
...


1 - www.motorists.org

2- www.motorists.org


#11 | Posted by LampLighter at 2019-10-23 12:42 PM | Reply | Newsworthy 2

"I agree abuot the circles being better, but many places just do not have the physical space to put a traffic circle at every intersection."

In Hollywood Florida, on U.S. 1 they had a circle there, it worked completely fine for me and most others. But, I guess some people couldn't handle it so they put in traffic lights which just eliminates the benefit of it being a circle.

#12 | Posted by danni at 2019-10-23 12:44 PM | Reply

"6 Cities That Were Caught Shortening Yellow Light Times For Profit"

I don't know if they have altered the timing here but some Florida cities send out thousands of those traffic tickets.

#13 | Posted by danni at 2019-10-23 12:45 PM | Reply

long yellows means more people will push the limit and attempt to run it.

And short yellows mean more people slamming on the brakes to avoid running a light and getting rear ended as a result. Studies prove it.

The key is a universal standard somewhere in the middle so people aren't wondering how long a yellow they have every time they cross into the next municipality.

#14 | Posted by JOE at 2019-10-23 12:55 PM | Reply

Starman explanation of light colors:

www.youtube.com

#15 | Posted by danni at 2019-10-23 01:02 PM | Reply

Round abouts cause more accidents because they are confusing.

#16 | Posted by phesterOBoyle at 2019-10-23 01:54 PM | Reply

I commonly (when available) use the crosswalk signals to time the yellow lights. Where I live we have the crosswalk signals which have a countdown when you get the blinking hand. Generally (though not always), when the countdown gets to zero (and the hand stays solid) the traffic light in the intersection turns yellow. So, most of the time I know exactly when the light will turn yellow so, based upon how far I am from the light, I can either start slowing down or maybe even speed up a little to ensure I get through the light with plenty of time.

Don't know how consistent crosswalk lights are other places, but it works well for me.

#17 | Posted by gtbritishskull at 2019-10-23 02:01 PM | Reply

Round abouts cause more accidents because they are confusing.

I love roundabouts. But, I am always a little concerned whenever I encounter one in the US because of the idiot American drivers who don't know how to use them.

#18 | Posted by gtbritishskull at 2019-10-23 02:04 PM | Reply

Roundabouts that are for an intersection seem to work really well.

When they are dealing with freeway entrances and service drives that are parallel they tend to be a bit of a nightmare.

#19 | Posted by JeffJ at 2019-10-23 02:19 PM | Reply

I can't help but envision Chevy Chase trapped in a roundabout forever.

They are just snowplow obstacles here. A foot of snow and you can't tell a roundabout from a regular intersection until somebody loses a bumper

#20 | Posted by hatter5183 at 2019-10-23 04:35 PM | Reply

some cities are dropping all traffic lights and signage... does it make you safer?

www.csmonitor.com

discuss...

#21 | Posted by Pegasus at 2019-10-23 06:16 PM | Reply

I know only this about red lights and such. When we experience a hurricane down here we usually have a week or two without electricity which means the traffic lights don't work. The first day or two is chaos but then most people learn that we all stop at the intersection and take turns going, amazingly, I think the traffic moves quicker than when the traffic lights are working, people become more polite to each other and things operate quite well.
I also like roundabouts which they have begun creating in various parts of my neighborhood where we previously had stop signs. I also like speed bumps, if you lived on my street where some a******s drive up to 50 or even 60 miles per hour on what is a residential streety, I think you'd also like them. Supposedly we are getting them but that promise has been out there for a long time and I've yet to see them.

#22 | Posted by danni at 2019-10-24 06:54 AM | Reply

traffic circles were (unexpectedly) safer than traffic lights

Roundabouts produce slightly more accidents but are 'safer' because they eliminate the most deadly type of accident, a head-to-head. A big meta data study also concluded the safest intersections are ones where there or no lights or signs; drivers are forced to slow down and pay attention.

Standardizing traffic lights worldwide seems like a no-brainier. Figuring out lights and markings in other countries is harder than keeping to the 'right' lane. In England yellows work like an F1 grid start and you get a yellow, sometimes followed by a blinking yellow before the green like they're daring you to set the launch control.

#23 | Posted by BluSky at 2019-10-24 08:28 AM | Reply

Roundabouts produce slightly more accidents but are 'safer' because they eliminate the most deadly type of accident, a head-to-head.

My least favorite roads are the two lane roads with 45-55mph and only a double yellow line separating the two lanes. Requires a lot of faith and trust in civilization and other drivers' ability to drive those paths every day.

#24 | Posted by GOnoles92 at 2019-10-24 08:55 AM | Reply

long yellows means more people will push the limit and attempt to run it.
I am all for traffic/redlight cameras, the death and destruction of running the gauntlet is to great for such little reward.

#4 | POSTED BY ANDREAMACKRIS AT 2019-10-23 11:07 AM | REPLY | FLAG:

Is there any proof people run yellows more in places where the yellow is longer?

The problem with the redlight camera is when it's set up against the laws of physics. That isn't safe. It's robbery.

#25 | Posted by BruceBanner at 2019-10-24 09:33 AM | Reply

Yellow light time should be identical state/nationwide.

#26 | Posted by visiter at 2019-10-24 11:12 AM | Reply

Light turns yellow, timer goes off. Bong. Bong. Bong. Out of the ground before the crosswalk come iron pillars.

Cars will obey the law or drivers will have to replace their airbags often.

Easy fix. I like railroad crossbars, but when I was in Germany, I saw these pillars. Cool.

#27 | Posted by Petrous at 2019-10-24 06:18 PM | Reply

Bring back lead paint for lines.

Reflectors suck. The new pavement is impossible, and on days of rain, you're blind.

I drove the PA/NJ/NY turnpike in pouring rain in the 80's and never and issue. Blades pumping full speed.

Today, I'd never risk it.

#28 | Posted by Petrous at 2019-10-24 06:21 PM | Reply

"I drove the PA/NJ/NY turnpike in pouring rain in the 80's and never and issue. Blades pumping full speed. Today, I'd never risk it." - #28 | Posted by Petrous at 2019-10-24 06:21 PM

Getting old is a ----.

But she's the only gal at the dance before the wake.

#29 | Posted by Hans at 2019-10-24 06:28 PM | Reply

"Easy fix. I like railroad crossbars, but when I was in Germany, I saw these pillars. Cool."

It's easier to drive in Germany. More roundabouts. Few stoplights. Even fewer stop signs.

#30 | Posted by madbomber at 2019-10-24 10:44 PM | Reply

True Hans.

#31 | Posted by Petrous at 2019-10-25 08:00 AM | Reply

Our resident small government republican shows their colors again

You mean by applauding the higher court ruling that Oregon unconstitutionally restricted the engineer's rights?

You're an idiot.

#32 | Posted by MUSTANG at 2019-10-25 08:38 AM | Reply

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