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Old February 24th, 2007, 11:58 PM   #1
TheCat
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The traffic light thread

I have long wanted to start a thread like this, so here goes It perhaps is not
directly related to highways, but I think the main page of this forum is too
general.

So, post in this thread pictures and everything else related to the traffic lights
in your country, including any interesting rules/facts.

I have some thoughts on traffic lights. In many places around the world, and
in Ontario where I live, I don't like the traffic lights, because they allow drivers
to turn left when oncoming traffic is facing a green light, which I think is
quite dangerous and inconvenient when you have to turn left across multiple
lanes of fast traffic.

Another thing to consider is placement of traffic lights, before/after the
intersection, or both.

I lived in Israel before, and I think the traffic light system there is one of the
best I've seen in the world. This is why I'm going to start with it I'll do Ontario after.

Israel

Interesting features:
  1. Left turns are ALWAYS protected, i.e. you are never allowed to turn left if oncoming traffic faces a green light.
  2. Most traffic lights have arrows above them that indicate which directions they control.
  3. Traffic lights are always placed both before the intersection (at the stop line) AND after the intersection (across it).
  4. If there is no arrow above a traffic light, it actually allows completely protected travel to ALL directions, even though traffic lights without arrows are rare.
  5. Interesting thing that other countries (like Germany, UK) have: traffic light turns from red to red+yellow before turning green .
  6. Green light flashes several times before turning yellow on roads with speed limits above 60km/h.
  7. Right turn on red is not allowed; instead, in most intersections the right turn is separated from the main road by a physical island, and the driver is only required to yield to pedestrians (warned by a flashing yellow light).

Pictures:
Typical left turn:

Directional lights:

Separated right turn, left signal, and 2 sets (before & after the intersection):

The red+yellow phase:
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Old February 25th, 2007, 12:38 AM   #2
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Ontario, Canada

I know that other provinces in Canada have slightly different rules, so I will
just cover Ontario.

Features:
  1. Traffic lights are yellow .
  2. Normally, turning left is allowed when oncoming traffic faces a green light (bad thing in my opinion), but on big intersections, there is a protected left phase for a few seconds before the normal green light appears.
  3. Traffic lights are placed AFTER the intersection only (this is quite unique actually as far as I know).
  4. Blinking green means fully protected signal (same as green light + left turn arrow).
  5. Turning right on a red light is ALLOWED unless a sign says otherwise, but after coming to a complete stop.
  6. Urban expressways that are controlled by traffic lights usually have separate left-turn signals, as also some busy downtown streets (the only exceptions to the rule).

Some pictures:
Normal light; the fourth phase is for the protected left arrow:

Busy street downtown: separate left turn signals, separate streetcar signals:

Same street as above (in Chinatown), only way to turn left is through oncoming traffic, also no right turn on red sign:
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Old February 25th, 2007, 01:19 AM   #3
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For some odd reason, traffic lights in Germany are before the intersection. This makes it very hard to see if you are the first car.

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Old February 25th, 2007, 01:53 AM   #4
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traffic lights in urban areas of australia are changing to led lights. they are much brighter and clearer to see.

the old incandescnt bulb with coloured face becomes harder to see with age as the cover gets dirtier, plus when the sun is low in the skyline, they are near impossible to see.
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Old February 25th, 2007, 06:17 AM   #5
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Ontario traffic lights seem so luxurious compared to many.

I find this especially in comparison to many states in the USA, where their traffic lights simply hang from two wooden poles and a string across the intersection where the lights hang.

Funny thing is, our temporary Construction lights are built to a higher standard than the permanent American lights in certain cases. (Michigan comes to mind)
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Old February 25th, 2007, 08:03 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by goschio View Post
For some odd reason, traffic lights in Germany are before the intersection. This makes it very hard to see if you are the first car.
I concur. They might be extremely hard to see. I like the Californian traffic lights because they are almost always positioned before and after intersection, and a lot of them are now LED. I wish the green light blinked before turning yellow, and there was a red-yellow phase before turning green, but oh well... It's still pretty good.
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Old February 25th, 2007, 09:15 AM   #7
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Some lights in the US have a weird blinking white around the red light on
expressways to catch drivers' attention after a long monotonous drive.
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Old February 25th, 2007, 04:10 PM   #8
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Melbourne is apparently very generous with traffic lights.

And by that, I mean having lights on both sides of the road before the intersection, lights on both sides after the intersection, and an overhead one for good measure.

This set of signals is good fun too:

It has aspects for left and right turning traffic, straight ahead traffic, trams and bicycles.
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Old February 25th, 2007, 07:02 PM   #9
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If I remember it correctly then all Stockholm's traffic lights are LED lights
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Old February 25th, 2007, 07:35 PM   #10
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Edmonton, AB Canada has similar traffic light rules compared to Ontario. Here are some exceptions.

1) Our traffic lights are aligned horizontal instead of vertical.
2) Edmonton's back plate are black. I like the yellow ones better.
3) Edmonton does NOT have a green blinking light. Just a green blinking left turn arrow for advanced left turn.
4) When turning left, visibility of the traffic light is limited. As for Ontario, the visibility of traffic light vertical position when turning left is good...(ex: the picture with the FRONT ST intersection. That light is on the left hand side. In Edmonton, the ONLY ONE LIGHT light position is short and in the centre, harder for the second or third car to see what the light signal is. (I hope everyone understands this).
5) For traffic above 70 km/h with more than 3 lanes going one way, we do have warning signals, about maybe a hundred metres before the intersection, that the light will turn yellow and then red when approaching the intersection. It's actually quite accurate. Once the yellow light starts to blink, one knows to start breaking the car because the light will turn red when one reaches the intersection.
6) In the last 2 years, the entire city had gone LED on the lights. Now, I can't think of anywhere in the city that still has the old, traditional incandescent bults.

And of note, I do completely agree with The Cat that it's bad to turn left on a green signal. But I think the city allows this to reduce traffic jams. I could be wrong though.

Jimmy

Last edited by Jimmy81; February 25th, 2007 at 07:45 PM.
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Old February 25th, 2007, 11:22 PM   #11
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The blinking green light to signal advance left turns in Ontario I think is coming obsolete. In London, Ontario they don't exist, and i think the MTO (Provincial Highway) standard is to construct them with a separate turning light (like with four lights, Red, Yellow, Green, Advanced)
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Old February 26th, 2007, 03:10 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jimmy81 View Post
5) For traffic above 70 km/h with more than 3 lanes going one way, we do have warning signals, about maybe a hundred metres before the intersection, that the light will turn yellow and then red when approaching the intersection. It's actually quite accurate. Once the yellow light starts to blink, one knows to start breaking the car because the light will turn red when one reaches the intersection.
That's interesting, do you mean there is a separate warning light about 100m away? If so, it's interesting to see pictures
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Old February 26th, 2007, 03:21 AM   #13
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remember not all of ontario has the same traffic lights, here in york region we have a set of lights strictly for turning and a seperate one for straightforward traffic, and example in what is found on hwy 7
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Old February 26th, 2007, 03:39 AM   #14
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I have actually mentioned that in the last point (#6) in my post on Ontario.
Ontario does have unified (i.e., "the same") traffic rules throughout, as these
matters in Canada are a provincial responsibility. The separate left turn signal
is just another feature of Ontario's laws (and yes, on an expressway like
Hwy 7 it makes sense to separate the lights). Regular city streets (including
busy ones) in York region still mostly use non-protected left turns. And by the
way, a lot of Spadina avenue (shown in some of the pictures) also has separate
signals. However, these are the exceptions to the rule.

On the other hand, in some countries (for example, Israel), there is never a
situation where one can turn left when oncoming traffic is facing a green light
(in fact, constructing such a traffic light is illegal, because drivers would assume
they have the right of way, even when turning). Note that this applies only in
the case of traffic lights; in the absence thereof, you must of course yield to
oncoming traffic.
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Old February 26th, 2007, 03:43 AM   #15
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Heh we are just discussing Canada's traffic lights. Where are posts from other countries?
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Old February 26th, 2007, 09:28 AM   #16
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For Greece:

1. Left turns are protected, there is always a sign above the traffic light that doesn't allow left turns.
2.Traffic lights that control a left or right direction have arrows instead of just a light.
3.Traffic lights are always placed before the intersection.
4.Traffic lights turn from red to green directly, but they turn to orange before turning red.
5.On roads with speed limits above 50km/h, there is a warning light around 100 m before the intersection traffic light, if the warning light starts blinking(orange color), then in less than 20 secs the traffic light will turn red.

Last edited by pilotos; February 26th, 2007 at 06:13 PM.
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Old February 26th, 2007, 10:49 AM   #17
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Croatia:

1. left turning is protected only if there are traffic lights with arrows. it often appears on large and important intersections and intersections with high traffic.
2. arrows are not as Israeli (signs under traffic lights), but lights have a shape of arrow.
3. green is often blinking 2 or 3 times before changing into yellow
4. german system: red -> red/yellow -> green -> blinking green -> yellow -> red
5. often there is a single traffic light which has only green right arrow. if it is turned on, that means that you may turn right, but with care (probably pedestrians have also green so you must let them pass first)
6. on non-protected left turnings there can be single left green arrow. if it is on, that means that oncoming traffic has red, so you may turn left witout danger. this arrow is allways located after intersection, so you can see it when you are waiting in the middle of intersection
7. traffic lights are allways located in front of intersection and a lot of intersections have lights also after it (not all!)
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Old February 26th, 2007, 11:05 AM   #18
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whats with the blinking light? in oz no light blinks unless the lights are faulty, in that case, the yellows blink.

we have traffic lights on both sides of the intersection plus overhead. its not uncommon to have view of 6-8 traffic lights on the approach to an intersection.
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Old February 26th, 2007, 11:17 AM   #19
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In Norway traffic lights have been LED for the last three-four years.
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Old February 26th, 2007, 09:30 PM   #20
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A light in the town of Baie-Saint-Paul, Québec. The province arranges its lights horizontally with the red in the shape of a stop-signish octagon; the amber, a diamond and green, a circle. Also note the provincial route marker and the countdown sign for pedestrians.

image hosted on flickr
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