Lights trial goes on to work out danger
8:20am Wednesday 5th September 2012 in By David Wiles
A TRIAL of part-time traffic lights at one of Swindon’s busiest junctions is expected to continue until at least February – to determine whether the scheme has increased road accidents.
Swindon Council started the first trial phase of a scheme in November to turn off the signals on Mannington Roundabout during off-peak periods in a bid to reduce congestion at the West Swindon junction.
The council passed a motion, soon after the phase ended in February, saying it had been a success and requested that a scheme be drawn up to convert traffic lights at other junctions.
But some have suggested that the part-time lights had increased accidents. Last month, father-of-one Paul Burney, 32, said the changes had made it more dangerous after he flipped his car on Mannington roundabout, adding that there should be more signs to say the lights are now part-time.
However, Swindon Council says the available injury accident data remains inconclusive, and cabinet will be asked today to continue the scheme for a 12-month road safety review to allow more data to be collected.
Counci leader Rod Bluh said: “I think it has been a great idea. I have been displeased for years when I have had to sit, particularly at night time, at that roundabout going nowhere where there’s been no traffic there.
“I think the part-time lights have worked particularly well. I think it has improved traffic flows and I would like to see it rolled out across the town.
“I think basically the officers would have to work through which ones which would be appropriate. I can think of a few but whether they would be suitable or not I don’t know – places like Coate Water Roundabout, even the Wichelstowe junction.”
A council report says a trial study, by Halcrow, concluded that the part-time signals reduced off-peak delays, which was supported by public feedback.
But the study also recommends that a full road safety review be carried out due to the limited amount of injury data available and the indication that injury accidents increased during the trial.
The most recent data available, until May 30, shows that in an equal period before the commencement of part-time operation, there was one serious and one slight injury at the junction, compared to three slight injuries during the new scheme period.
Coun Bluh said the difference was minimal and he would have expected the scheme to reduce the number and seriousness of accidents as motorists would be driving more cautiously.
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