Battlepanda: TMI at the intersection


Always trying to figure things out with the minimum of bullshit and the maximum of belligerence.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

TMI at the intersection

I find this oddly fascinating. This is an article in from a daily newspaper here in Taiwan. I have translated it (loosely). Link here, if you read Chinese.
It is increasingly common to find countdown displays attached to traffic lights to show motorists how much time they have left before the light changes. However, research by the Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) show that when countdown displays are attached to a green light, the rate of accidents at that intersection doubles. When countdown displays are attached to the red light, however, the accident rate halves. In the light of this research, the MOTC have come up with new regulations allowing only countdown displays to be attached to red lights. The new rules would go into effect as early as June.

As more cities and municipalities started mounting countdown displays, some have chosen to use only mount displays to the green lights, others only to red lights while still others attached the displays to both. The size and shapes of the displays are also lacking in uniformity across regions.

MOTC bureaucrat Chang Shun-ching said that current statutes governing traffic signals do not mention countdown displays and there are no national standards for such devices. The Transportation research institute at the MOTC completed the report days ago and concluded that the law needs to be amended.

The research utilized data from the National Police Agency. The researchers compared accident rates from the year before and the year after the 187 intersections all over the country adapted countdown displays of various types. They found that the intersections where only the green light was accompanied by a countdown display, the number of accidents doubled and the number of those wounded or killed in the accidents increased by one third. Where the intersection had a countdown display only for red lights, both the incidents of accidents and injuries were halved. Where the displays were attached to both red and green lights, the number of accidents increased by 19 percent while the numbers injured increased by 23 percent.