Synchronised Traffic Lights

I think that the government should synchronise traffic lights on roads in the UK. This would improve life in the UK by reducing travel time, fuel consumption ,greenhouse gas emissions and by helping to control speed of vehicles.

According to the City of Laguna Niguel Department of Public Works, who are implementing this method on some of their roads, traffic light synchronisation is ‘an engineering technique of matching traffic signal green lights at successive intersections to maximise passage of motorists along a corridor’. This means that (provided it is driving around the speed limit ) the chance of a vehicle running into multiple red lights in succession is greatly reduced, which decreases travel time, because vehicles spend less time stopping and waiting at traffic lights, thus minimising fuel consumption at these stops.

The way that traffic light synchronisation works is that, where there are many traffic lights (especially in short succession) they are timed strategically to turn green when a group of vehicles arrive at each of the traffic lights, so that once a vehicle has passed one red light, the likelihood of it encountering a subsequent red light in immediate succession is minimised.This works best on consecutive intersections. The arrival time of a group of vehicles driving at a specific speed- around the speed limit- is calculated, and traffic lights are then timed to turn green just as the group approaches the next traffic light, this means that each group of synchronised lights must all be set to run at the same cycle length (how long it takes to switch between colours)*

In the US, some roads already operate using synchronised Traffic lights. According to the City of Laguna Niguel Department of Public Works (using the Source: OCTA Signal Synchronization Analysis), traffic light synchronisation reduces travel time by 13% and travel speed by 14%. It also claims that 52 million gallons (236,396,680 Litres) of fuel were saved and that there were 885 million pounds (401,429,247.45 Kilograms) in greenhouse gas reductions. Another source (‘Cities Try To Get Traffic Lights In Sync’ by KMBC 9 – timestamp 1:30 ) claims that over one 2 mile section, the 30,000 cars using the road regularly, saved 298 hours of travel and 231 gallons of fuel between them in one day, and that over an entire year, a total of $236,000.00 were saved on fuel. These figures are from 2008, so due to changing fuel costs, they may differ from those of today, although in recent months the cost of fuel in the US has been similar or has even exceeded the rates in 2008.

Traffic light synchronisation can control the speed of vehicles, as vehicles driving over the speed limit are more likely to encounter a red light and need to come to a stop, vehicles driving far below the speed limit would also encounter more red lights, and therefore speed up.

Life in the UK would be improved if greenhouse emissions are reduced, because roads would be less polluted, and people living near busy intersections would have an improved quality of life. synchronising traffic lights is also a useful way to reduce greenhouse emissions, as it does not require every citizen to invest in an electric vehicle.

The 13th sustainable development goal is climate action, the 11th is to achieve sustainability in cities and communities. A reduction in greenhouse emissions would also help to achieve these global goals within the uk.

Climate change poses a real threat, and by synchronising traffic lights, and therefore reducing polluting gases, roads in the uk could begin to take a step in the right direction to fight climate change .

By reducing travel time, life in the UK would also be improved as people would have more time to do other things rather than spending a large amount of time commuting between work and home. According to SME news, the average commute time in London was 85 minutes, and the shortest average commute time in the uk was in the east of England, at 65 minutes.Synchronised traffic lights could reduce this time.

Overall, the synchronisation of traffic lights would have many benefits to UK residents by reducing commute time, controlling the speed of vehicles, and improving the quality of life for residents near busy intersections. It is proven to be successful in many roads in the US, and could save people and companies money on fuel costs.

* source- City of Irvine website (Traffic Signal Synchronization)