x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Smart traffic lights are welcome, but so will other measures

A more integrated transport system could include solutions such as pedestrian-operated crossing lights.

The introduction of smart traffic lights to Abu Dhabi's roads should be welcomed by the capital's drivers. The new lights, thanks to magnetic sensors, can detect approaching cars and react accordingly, significantly reducing waiting time.

An enduring problem with road solutions, however, is that, initially at least, they merely divert traffic to different areas. While Abu Dhabi has no plans to introduce a coordinated system for a network of junctions, as already used in Dubai, other traffic-flow controls should eventually make their way onto the capital's roads.

Tracking systems that identify areas of heavy traffic or accidents would certainly help. And a more integrated transport system could include solutions such as pedestrian-operated crossing lights. This would mean that pedestrians would know that their turn to cross the road would come. They would have less reason to sprint dangerously across several lanes of speeding traffic.

It should be remembered that non-technological measures have also worked well for decades. Since 1949, zebra crossings have been a perfectly workable way to indicate pedestrian crossings. Of course, that depends on drivers respecting these junctions, otherwise the consequences can be catastrophic. It's all very well having smart traffic cameras and signals, but what's far more important is having smart drivers.