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Speed not at issue

November 17th, 2015 · No Comments

Distracted drivers, riders, walkers most vulnerable at intersections

By Scotty Robinson

Speed is not behind the numerous car accidents, injuries, or pedestrian and cyclist deaths that occur. Our system of too many red lights and stop signs has dumbed down the majority of us, including pedestrians and bikers. It’s like zombie land out there, and then once you add in all the cell phones and other distractions, you have super zombies.

Intersections on arterial roads are by far the most dangerous places. Cars in our society are inherently selfish. This is seen by the rampant red light running going on. This is where the vast majority of pedestrians cross a road and puts pedestrians, cyclists, and cars turning left all in a dangerous position. Slower speed limits do not stop making drivers selfish. Add in the zombie factor of way too many pedestrians at intersections and you have a bad situation.

Where are the police?

They are too busy setting speed traps at one of the billions of stop signs, or at the bottom of small hills where nobody is getting killed. Intersections are where they should be and I will bet pedestrian deaths go down once drivers realize they will get a ticket.

Red light cameras at all intersections would solve this too, but they are not provided.

Add in that the lights are not synced, which increases traffic jams and dumbs down drivers more, adding to their frustration. If you synced the lights to where cars were doing no more than 40 or 50 km/hr, they would hit all the lights and would solve much of the problem. A car flowing more often means a calmer driver and thus a safer driver. Our system is red, green, red, green etc., on almost all our roads. It is beyond stupid and makes zero sense.

I found last month’s editorial cartoon perfect timing. The average pedestrian now stares straight ahead and never looks left or right; they see a red hand and they stop, they see a white hand and they go. There could be zero cars on the road, but they will still hit the button and stare straight ahead. They step off the curb not looking left or right. The old adage of look both ways before you cross the street is nowhere to be found. That button has zero effect at most intersections and only on small side roads but they will hit it anyway.

But the average driver does the same; they stare at the space in front of their car and never look way ahead. They don’t check their mirror every four to five seconds, or even their signal lights. It’s a deadly combination.

We need a system more like that in Vietnam: it has almost no lights and no crosswalks. Everyone drives like a pod of fish, without any hurry. It’s not selfish, not one car versus the other, as everyone hurries to beat the next red light.

The “pod” works together, and works with pedestrian and traffic flows. It’s beautiful. It has been proven that if you take the lights out of an intersection, remove the curbs on sidewalks at the intersection, and paint a traffic circle, collisions and pedestrian accidents go way down. It teaches people to think and pay attention again and keeps traffic flowing.

Several cities around the world have done this. Toronto has thought about testing it and has not done so.

Recently Japan made all accidents equal responsibility no matter what, and guess what happened? There was an 80 per cent reduction in traffic accidents, because it taught people to drive defensively and think again.

When I grew up we had more yield signs than stop signs; this taught you to slow down and look way before you got to the end of the street so you were ready to make the decision to stop or go as needed.

We need to create a system that makes us, all think again.

Scotty Robinson is a Gleaner reader and Robert Street resident.

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