How To Stay Safe At Traffic Lights

Published: 16th September 2008
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Traffic lights control busy junctions. They ease traffic flow by switching priorities in sequence, allowing vehicles from one direction to flow freely while vehicles from another direction are kept stationary. When driving towards a junction controlled by traffic lights ask yourself what a green light actually means. Most people will answer quickly with the reply a green light means 'go'. However a green light means more than that, it actually means 'go but only if the road is clear and it is safe to do so'.

On your approach to a set of traffic lights if you see a green light you should also ask yourself how long has the light been green? The longer is has been green the sooner it will change to amber. Amber doesn't mean accelerate in order to get through the lights before they change to red'. It means stop.

These days more drivers are prepared to risk driving through an amber light. It has even been reported that red light jumping is also on the increase. The result of this is that traffic lights junctions are becoming increasingly dangerous. This in turn means we need to use a defensive technique while driving through traffic lights.

Even though the lights are green and so telling you to proceed, always look both ways as you approach the junction, to make sure the road is clear. By taking a moment to look both ways, even when the and amber or red light.light is green, you might be able to spot a vehicle that has jumped

It is also advisable to keep using you rear view mirror as you pass through a green light. It may be that somebody is following you too closely behind, in which case, by spotting that the green light is about to turn amber in good time, you can slow down early, brake more gently and reduce the chances of a collision from behind.

The correct way to approach a traffic light controlled junction is:

As you approach use the mirror-signal-manoeuvre routine. Slow down and be prepared to stop. Never speed up in an attempt to beat an amber light. As you reach the traffic lights stop if the light shown is amber or red. If green make sure the road ahead is clear before you drive on.

The actual UK traffic light sequence is:

Red light - stop and wait at the stop line.

Red and Amber - Stop. Do not move off until the lights change to green.

Green - Go if it is clear and safe to do so. Give way to pedestrians who are crossing.

Amber - Stop. Only continue if the amber light appears after you have crossed the stop line or if you are so close to it would be dangerous to stop.

Traffic Light Failure
Traffic lights break down. When they do you should treat the intersection as an uncontrolled junction. This means no one has priority. For your own safety be prepared to stop as other traffic from other directions may assume they have priority.

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