Re: Princes Highway Crossing Signal Replacement – December 2020
  Yuri Sos

Conventional traffic lights would be more effective. Motorists are "programmed" to stop at a red traffic light, they do it multiple times every day, so it's almost an unconscious reflex, even if their concentration isn't 100%.

I remember, with some guilt and embarrassment, an incident some 25 years ago. I was driving home from work along Footscray Road heading inbound towards the City - a road that I had driven on 6 days a week for about 20 years before that. And I'm a railfan so I'm probably more aware of trains and trams than the average motorist.

Rail access to Swanson and Appleton Dock used to be a single track under City Link and crossed eight-lane Footscray Road protected only by flashing red lights at each kerb.

It had been a long stressful 14 hour day and I was exhausted. Probably mostly on auto pilot I was heading home. As I crossed the railway line a blast of a horn and a bright headlight of a Y class appeared in my driver's side window. I missed colliding with that Y class by about 4 metres.

Now I could make lots of excuses such as flashing lights at the kerb of an eight-lane road are outside a driver's line of vision (*) but the fact is that it was ENTIRELY MY FAULT due to inattention and lack of concentration. The point is that, to my knowledge, I've never driven through a red traffic light. Watch cars in traffic - 99.9% of drivers automatically come to a halt at a red light.

The Museum's crossing light is very nice and appeals to my gunzel's heart, but the average motorist will not have it programmed in.

I was also concerned at the speed of motorists past the work site - I was amazed that cars could flash past so close to workers: were there no 40km/h speed restrictions and Lane closures in place?


(*) another bugbear of mine is that Australian standards call for removing traffic lights away from the driver's line-of-sight as the driver approaches the intersection. Located on the near side of the intersection, as you approach the intersection the traffic lights move out of your line of sight as a driver because you're watching the cars in front of you and so you can quite easily miss the fact that the lights have changed to amber or red. In the US traffic lights high mounted traffic lights are on the FAR side of the intersection and there is one set of traffic lights for each lane of traffic in each direction; this means that as you approach the intersection you ALWAYS have a traffic light directly in your line of sight till you enter the intersection: in my opinion this is much safer for drivers especially in heavy traffic, night-time or bad weather. I note at several intersections here in South and Port Melbourne, the near side high mounted traffic lights are obscured by tree foliage until you are close to the intersection. Placing high mounted lights on the far side of the intersection would ensure clear view of the lights.

/rant off