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Rural Traffic Lights

Small rural villages protected by traffic lights on their outskirts
(+4, -4)
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Rural communities on quiet country roads often suffer from traffic speeding straight through small places, ignoring local speed restrictions.

I suggest that this problem might be addressed by placing a set of traffic lights at either end of small villages and hamlets which are by default set to red at both sides, and which don't turn green until a vehicle is detected waiting at them. Vehicles would be forced to stop before entering the community, thus reducing both noise pollution and dangerous traffic.

blamelewis, Feb 16 2002

what are rumble strips http://www.tdot.sta....us/Rumbletypes.htm
[trixie, Feb 19 2002]


       special treatment, no way!
po, Feb 16 2002

       I thought they did this already, if you nudge up to the lights slowly it activates them to green, as long as there is no oncoming traffic..!
arora, Feb 16 2002

       I think you guys missed the "outskirts" part of this idea. While I suspect [blamelewis] had quiet rural UK hamlets in mind, it would also apply to all the little "wide places in the road" that you encounter when traveling the backroads and highways of the Western United States. It's not unusual for there to be 25 or 30 miles of desert or open country between crossroads, and exceeding speeds of 75mph (120kmh) is very often the expected rule rather than the exception, even at night. Many of these little crossroad towns rely heavily on the income they derive from speed traps to defray municipal expenses, and I can't really argue with that line of thought since they don't have a lot of alternative sources of revenue. But, in a more perfect world that was only concerned with the safety and security of its citizenry, I think [blamelewis]'s idea of a large array of blinking hazard lights or other kinetic signalling system installed 1000 meters before town limits would be a welcome improvement for both drivers and local residents. Especially at night, and especially on lower-traffic connecting highways. Because the expense of installation, maintenance and continuous power supply to these units would be significant to many of the communities they are designed to protect, I think the cost should be borne by the greater state highway departments.   

       I don't agree that the lights should require drivers to come to a full stop, but yellow "slow--speed zone ahead" lights would be helpful.
jurist, Feb 17 2002

       Well put, jurist. Many a tiny town has something along these lines in place already.
thumbwax, Feb 17 2002

       I think that if [jurist] were to occupy the passenger seat of a fair sample of the autos on the back roads in Texas (USA) then he/she would come to understand that yellow lights and speed zone warnings do little to affect the speed of the offenders. Many of these drivers wait until they have passed 2-3 signs posting the lower speed limit before the notion sinks in that they should be driving slower. So then they ease the foot off the gas pedal and wait for the auto to coast until their speed is only about 5 miles per hour over the new limit. Usually these drivers reach the far side of town before their speed has decreased more than 10 miles per hour. In other words, the changing speed limit is not a high priority for these drivers.   

       However, a stop is a higher priority. Nearly all who have sufficient advance warning that the intersection ahead requires a stop will in fact reduce their speed to a crawl while they evauluate whether a full stop is "really necessary" (in the case of a stop sign or flashing red light). A solid-on red light that does not turn green until the car has stopped and waited a few seconds will usually stop all but the drowsiest and drunkest of drivers.   

       Coming to a full stop or a crawl for several seconds will reset the mental sense of speed. Psychologically, the new speed limit is much easier to obey without the mental "inertia" of the previous speed pressing the driver on.
BigBrother, Feb 18 2002

       British roads seem to have a number of techniques for this. Based on my experience of the roads around the villages of West Lothian, there are various techniques in use. One method is to include narrow sections that can only carry a car in one direction at a time, with a particular direction getting priority; this means you have to slow. Other techniques involve narrowing the road in less drastic ways, inserting bends, and humps/bumps. I'm not sure if the narrow hump-backed one-way bridges are there by accident or design.
pottedstu, Feb 18 2002

       The A394 in Cornwall is mainly de-restricted (ie, 60 mph), with several villages which have a 30 mph limit. On the approach to the 30 limits are advance warning signs: "30 mph limit in 200 yds", "30 mph limit in 100 yds".
angel, Feb 18 2002

       "rumble strips (noun) Grooves etched into a highway surface and designed to emit a loud rumble when a car drives over them"   

       Rumble strips are a cheap and effective alternative - I always tell the kids that the road is saying "slow down."
trixie, Feb 19 2002

       Raised rumble strips have recently been installed on an open road I travel on daily. They are under the white lines on the road so are quite hard to see.   

       For the first few weeks it was quite amusing to see the sides of the road dotted with cars with pairs of legs sticking out from underneath and/or tyres being checked. It seems most people thought it was their own car making the noise.
Helium, Feb 19 2002


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