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Centralised smart traffic lights systems needed

May I suggest that the authorities install mobile cameras in every public bus? The cameras thus installed will be inaccessible to the bus crews, but could be remotely monitored (and recorded) by the centralised Police unit, which also monitors the Street CCTV cameras. This will be similar to making the naughtiest child in class the Class Monitor. The greatest violators of Traffic Rules are the public busses, and this will force them to be on their best behaviour. The ‘big picture’ gained from these mobile cameras will help authorities to comprehend what is happening. Centralised Computers could vary the timing of the Green Lights in accordance with the time of day (and Traffic congestion).

The reason for having traffic lights is because it is physically impossible for a human being to continuously control traffic for long periods of time. The mechanical, semaphore type signals were invented by an entrepreneur named Garret Morgan, who was a son of a slave in Ohio USA. (He was also responsible for inventing the Gas Masks used in WWI). General Electric (GE) Company bought the patent and fitted lights on them. The Red lights were already being used by the Railways. 

Having policemen controlling traffic physically in the morning and evening during rush hour time, is it really helping? I think not. There is always a policeman at the top of a traffic jam. I believe the objective should be to feed in a few cars at a time and keep the traffic moving. This is humanly impossible. Some of us will remember the movie ‘Patton’ and how the good General personally directed traffic at a four way junction and kept them moving. A few vehicles at a time. There are some traffic lights in USA which have signs that says “Three Cars per Green Light”

Isn’t it better to computer control the light sequence after a proper study of the motor traffic for the specific time of day, and have only one office?

There are some traffic lights like the one near Medical College, Carey College junction, which barely allows two cars to turn from the Prof. Nandadasa Kodagoda Mawatha to Kynsey Road, from the mortuary side. Nobody complains about it. Some Traffic Light posts are twisted and pointing in the wrong direction (not aligned) causing organized chaos. The stop lines drawn on the R A de Mel Mawatha and Galle Road, make the front cars lose sight of the lights. Isn’t there a mobile unit that travels the roads to check these traffic lights out? The telephone numbers for the driving public to complain should be prominently displayed.

r to oversee the operation of the lights? The presence of just one policeman will force the road users to be on their best behaviour. The other policemen could be ‘off the hook’ and more effectively distributed at the more critical areas.

With traffic lights installed at roundabouts, it reduces their efficiency. To borrow a phrase from Air Traffic Control, the objective must be safe, orderly and expeditious movement of traffic. It is accepted that the most efficient way to negotiate a junction of many converging roads is the use of a roundabout. The present road users have lost touch with the proper use of the principle of ‘right of way’. One has to only look at the chaos at the Thunmulla Junction. To make matters worse, one roundabout lane is blocked. Road courtesy is non-existent.

The police don’t seem to know the basic road rules themselves. They also don’t seem to know and use proper hand signals. Recently, one policeman at a busy junction was observed to be using his gloved hand, the palm facing forward and signalling the oncoming traffic to move. As a result at one point when the hand is forward extreme, it looked as if he was asking the traffic to stop. Do these policemen undergo any refresher courses to improve their skills? Maybe, some of them do not have driving licenses In fact, one policeman wanted me to switch my hazard lights on, to indicate that I was moving straight ahead. I had to wind my shutter down and tell the young man that it was not in the book.

There is another group of traffic policemen who ask the motorists to proceed when the traffic lights are showing Red. Isn’t it negative reinforcement? The day the driver runs a Red Light and has an accident, we all wonder what happened. Most of these problems could be fixed by having ‘smart traffic lights’ coupled to computers, cameras and road traffic sensors with minimum human intervention.

-Guwan Seeya-

The Island