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Longer amber traffic lights 'are safer' - but will amber gamblers just take advantage?

It's against the law to cross on amber - except in exceptional circumstances...

Changing traffic light cycles to include a longer period on amber could reduce the number of collisions at crossings, researchers have claimed.

The Dutch consultancy firm Goudappel Coffeng has found that the number of collisions or near misses caused by red light jumpers both on bikes and in cars could be reduced.

Just by having at least two seconds of amber at a cycle crossing or five seconds at a road junction where cars are travelling at 80 km per hour reduces people running a red light by 50 per cent.

The rules in the UK about entering a crossing on amber are clear.

The Highway Code states that: “RED AND AMBER also means ‘Stop’. Do not pass through or start until GREEN shows.”

“AMBER means ‘Stop’ at the stop line. You may go on only if the AMBER appears after you have crossed the stop line or are so close to it that to pull up might cause an accident”.

In addition, those with longer vehicles must take extra precautions. If the red light is not showing when the front of the vehicle crosses the line, but is illuminated before the rest of the vehicle has passed, an offence is committed.

The rules state that it is the obligation of a driver to ensure that the whole of the vehicle can pass on green, or not proceed.

Drivers who fail to comply risk 3 penalty points - but campaigners say the country is riddled with ‘amber gamblers’ who just drive on through regardless.

According to Gizmodo:

There's no universal correct yellow traffic light time, since people going 35 MPH will be able to stop quicker than people going 50 MPH. But there are equations to figure out the minimum safe time for a yellow light.

The speed limit obviously matters, but so does how quickly a car can decelerate, and whether the road is hilly or level. Plus, you have to account for the driver's "perception reaction time," which is basically how quickly a driver can react to seeing the light turn yellow. And that reaction time can vary from person to person, which is where things get sticky.

The Department of Transportation's traffic manual recommends that yellow lights are between 3 and 6 seconds long in the US.

 

After an unpromising start, having to be bribed by her parents to learn to ride without stabilisers, Sarah became rather keener on cycling in her university years, and was eventually persuaded to upgrade to proper road cycling by the prospect of a shiny red Italian bike, which she promptly destroyed by trapping a pair of knickers in the rear derailleur. Sarah writes about about cycling every weekend on road.cc.

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