Public works committee orders report into amber traffic light times


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How long should a yellow traffic signal light shine down to warn drivers to stop?

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 19/05/2020 (871 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

How long should a yellow traffic signal light shine down to warn drivers to stop?

On Tuesday, council’s public works committee voted unanimously to order a report with a definitive answer to that question, which could trigger changes to the current system.

“Some people believe that you don’t actually have the right amount of time to react when you’re approaching an amber light on a high-speed road (before the light turns red),” said Coun. Matt Allard (St. Boniface), who raised the motion for the report. “So, as a driver, you get put into a dilemma, where you either have to put on the brakes quickly or you have to decide to clear the intersection at that point and you might be going through a red.”

KEN GIGLIOTTI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES Winnipeg City council’s public works committee voted to order a report on the length of yellow traffic signal lights.

Winnipeg’s amber light times have sparked criticism for years, especially from the drivers advocacy group WiseUp Winnipeg. WiseUp has long argued Winnipeg’s four-second amber light time at all signalized intersections raises the risk of crashes and red-light tickets at higher-speed crossings, since it doesn’t offer enough warning to come to a complete stop.

Allard’s motion stated that “amber light times longer than four seconds on higher-speed approaches appear to be the standard in most other municipalities across North America.”

Allard said he’s now “almost convinced” a longer local amber light time would help drivers avoid coming to abrupt stops or passing through such intersections as the light changes to red.

“If this is a policy that can make us safer on our roads then I think we should be… moving forward on it,” he said.

WiseUp Winnipeg founder Todd Dube said it’s well past time for Winnipeg to implement longer amber light times at high-speed intersections, let alone study the idea.

“You have a huge spike in collisions at those intersection approaches, due to the dangerous timing and you also have… higher incidence of red-light running tickets (from photo enforcement) over slower intersections where four seconds is adequate (to stop),” said Dube.

In 2017, WiseUp held an event to warn drivers of frequent crashes at Bishop Grandin Boulevard and St. Mary’s Road, an intersection where Dube believes amber lights should last at least 5.7 seconds. Manitoba Public Insurance reported that intersection had the fifth-most collisions in the city between 2005 and 2014, with more than 1,500 crashes during that time period.

“As soon as these lights are made safe, extended to a proper safe time, tickets will plummet overnight and so will the high incidence of chronic collisions,” said Dube Tuesday.

The report is expected back in about 60 days.

Twitter: @joyanne_pursaga

Joyanne Pursaga

Joyanne Pursaga

Born and raised in Winnipeg, Joyanne loves to tell the stories of this city, especially when politics is involved. Joyanne became the city hall reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press in early 2020.

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