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Red Light warning markers

Auckland Transport are trialling a new warning system in Remuera till the end of September next year in a bid to stop people running red lights. They’re adding red markers to the road that light up when the signals have changed as another visual clue that drivers need to stop. They started in September by installing CCTV cameras so they could get pre-trial data to see the effectiveness and the markers will remain till September next year.

Red light runners are being targeted with a new warning system.

Auckland Transport has started a trial at two intersections in Remuera to try to stop motorists running the lights.

Auckland Transport’s Network Operations and Safety Manager Randhir Karma says the trial is to see whether red light running can be prevented at two closely spaced intersections by putting in red illuminated markers on the road.

“Lights in the traffic lanes are linked to the traffic signals and warn drivers by showing that the signals have turned red and they must stop.”

Both Remuera Road/Clonbern Road and Remuera Road/Victoria Ave intersections have traffic signals and are located quite close to each other. The two intersections are within the Remuera Town Centre and are busy with both traffic and pedestrians.

Over the five years 2010 – 2014, a total of 12 crashes have been reported in this area, three involved failing to give way and two were rear end crashes which may have been caused by red light running.

Mr Karma says, “There have also been a number of near misses between pedestrians and vehicles. Over the years, safety concerns have been raised by the local community and Remuera businesses, we hope this will help deal with the problem.”

The Orakei Local Board’s Ken Baguley is welcoming the trial. “This is a cost effective way to get the message to motorists that the lights ahead are red.”

The trial is scheduled to last until the end of September 2016. Auckland Transport will undertake the evaluation of the trial and report to NZ Transport Agency.

Auckland Transport will conduct traffic analysis during the trial, together with input from the public, to determine whether the lights in the road have improved the safety of the intersections.

It’s good to see AT taking a more active approach to red light running which is quite prevalent in many parts of Auckland. I guess my only concern with it is that the lights only seem to come on at the same time as the red lights so those intending on running a red light will likely keep doing so. As such I wonder if there’s value in having orange versions too?

74 comments to Red Light warning markers

  • RJ

    In the Philippines they have traffic light timers showing the time for green, orange/amber/yellow and red

  • Ari

    I spoke with one of the engineers who was involved with the project. The trial is not about stopping people who purposely run the red lights right after the amber light. If someone chooses to do so, they are going to do it and no little lights on the road are going to stop them. As I understand it, the aim of the trial is to stop the people who are supposed to be stopped on red and see the green lights 50m down the road (at the next intersection) and think the green lights are for them and start driving through a red, but doing so by mistake. Apparently it is a common problem at these types of closely spaced intersections.

    • Greg N

      Agree, I’ve nearly done exactly that while waiting at the lights – the same problem exists both ways – i.e. when using the intersection of Conbern/Remuera roads and Victoria Avenue.
      Same intersection layout exists going towards Newmarket and from Newmarket.

      So if these lights help prevent someone jumping the lights. However, I think the lights are too close to the stop line to be effective.

    • David B.

      Ari, thanks for pointing that out because I’ve made that very mistake! Driving down Taharoto Road one day, I was approaching two sets of lights about 40m apart. I saw the lights turn green and went blissfully ahead, only to find to my horror that the lights to the side of me were still red. I was shocked that I could do such a thing!.

      In my view having sets of lights as close as this is a dangerous design, and they are hazardous unless the two sets are exactly synchronised.

    • Jamie

      Just like Greg N and David B, I’ve mistakenly taken off at the red at this set of lights. The problem is not bad drivers, just a *really* badly designed intersection.

      With most intersections, there are two sets of lights: one set at the close side of the intersection (almost above the car at the front), and one set at the far side of the intersection. Both sets are connected and change at the same time. If you can’t easily see the close set, you can look at the far set and go when they turn green.

      Along this stretch of road, the close and far sets of lights are for *different intersections*. The far set will turn green for traffic coming out of the side roads (Clonbern Rd and Victoria Ave), but the close set is red for traffic moving along Remuera Rd. If you’re at the front at the intersection, where it can be difficult to see the close set of lights, it’s all too easy to see the far set turn green and think it’s your turn to move.

      Looking at the video, the markers are a good start but they could be better. There needs to be some markers a little further out into the intersection, so that they can be seen by people at the front at the lights.

    • Andrew

      I see this occur almost daily at the Victoria St / Lorne St / High St intersection. Traffic on Victoria St often misses this intermediate intersection between Queen St and Kitchener St.

  • Ricardo

    What is really needed is an intelligent study into why people run red lights. A number of intersections my team use daily have very brief turning arrows and consequently large buildups of traffic. Often only 3 or 4 cars are able to turn out of a queue of 30 or more. The pressure is on to get across the intersection, and many go on the last of the orange. Now those who love dishing out punishments would simply say let’s ticket all these people. The brighter ones amongst us would say let’s look at the situation and think about the benefits of an extra couple of seconds of a green arrow and make a few simple changes. Engineers who determine the light change periods should be made to drive the routes and see first hand what the issues are. Also as a major change it would be good to have the UK system whereby an orange light precedes a green to get those in queues ready to go, as in Auckland there seems to be a number of people who see the green, then waste time engaging their brain before moving. This would get more vehicles through an intersection in the same time period.

    • Early Commuter

      I’d say “obey the f**king law” because if you go on the last tick of the orange/the red all you are doing is delaying the next phase, who can’t go immediately on green. Or, as often happens to me, driving through the pedestrian crossing just as I get my green man (of course, you in your 1500kg car, me weighing 90kg isn’t a fair fight)

      So, stop trying to make excuses for criminals. A red-light runner is just a criminal.

      I’d suggest the cops should enforce this a lot more than they do. It would mean cars could go immediately on green and improve the efficiency of our intersections

      • Ricardo.

        And you are clearly of the punishment camp rather than the intelligent analysis camp.

        • Early Commuter

          Ok Ricardo, here’s your intelligent analysis:
          The nature of humanity without laws is nasty, brutish, and short
          What holds humanity together is respect for the rule of law
          Whenever any person breaches a law, they don’t only breach the law in specific, they breach the law “in general”, that is, a crack upon the edifice
          Thus, allowing wilful illegal behaviour of any kind threatens the security we have.

          Is this intelligent enough? I can quote the philosophers involved, or you can trust me when it comes to criminology-related matters. That is not to say we shouldn’t debate whether to change the laws (for example, should marijuana be legal), but that until we do change them, we should continue to punish. punishment serves three purposes… it is punitive, it rehabilitates, and it deters others. I could go for hours here.

          • mfwic

            Some people love laws and obey them all because they think the law matters of itself. I am in the camp where I don’t litter because I don’t want a messy city. I don’t kill because I value life. I do drive at 55km/h because it feels safe. Sometimes that is within the 10km/h tolerance and the authorities accept it, sometimes that exceeds the 4km/h tolerance and I risk a ticket. Doesn’t worry me either way. I make choices based on what I think not based on what others think nor the arbitrary enforcement policy.

          • Punishment alone does not rehabilitate.

          • Early Commuter

            Then mfwic you shouldn’t complain if a psychopath kills you because his internal morality tells him it’s fine.

    • Ari

      People value their own time more than the lives of others. It’s that simple.
      So many times I see people swerving all over the motorway to save a few seconds, then I catch up with them at the off ramp.

      • Early Commuter

        It’s not just “the lives of others”, it’s other people’s time.
        Like I said, if someone runs a red, the next person on green can’t go instantaneously.
        There’s no net gain overall.

        • That comment about time is not fully correct — if nobody would run that red right arrow, people in the back of that queue will lose a lot of time. It could take 30 minutes of time to let 30 cars come through instead of 10.

          And then after that right arrow turns red, the opposing traffic gets green for the next 50 seconds, but apart from the maybe 5 cars waiting there’s almost no traffic coming through during that time. That is just rubbing it in people’s faces that there is no real point to making the turning phase this short, and will not encourage compliance.

          Whatever your job is, if you’re working with people and you assume they should just stop behaving like people, then you’re going to fail.

          • Bruce

            That is where more intersections need to allow right turns on the straight ahead green rather than having a red arrow.

          • Early Commuter

            I assume people will behave like well-behaved, polite, and cultured people.

            If they want to behave like animals, treat them like animals by locking them in cages.

    • JimboJones

      Agree that some green arrows are short and frustrating, but that doesn’t give anyone the right to run a red arrow.
      Driving a car in rush hour is always going to be frustrating, if you can’t handle that maybe you should choose another commuting option.

    • Nigel Owen

      If Red Light running was largely limited to the situations you describe then you would have a valid point. But it is not. Red light running is prevalent across most busy intersections and in all directions. Also in the situation you describe the lead car is probably not able to proceed immediately upon the light turning green because of red light runners still driving through the intersection.
      And it doesn’t matter how long the queue is it is no excuse for committing a dangerous activity and putting peoples lives at risk.

      • Scott M

        As someone who was nearly killed by a red light runner on Pakuranga Highway I have no sympathy at all for red light runners. There is absolutely no excuse to be crossing an intersection on a red. If you are that unobservant you dont deserve a drivers license!

  • Steve Withers

    They will have to do something about the BMW / Audi traffic law exemption. My spouse was nearly killed a couple of weeks ago when a silver BMW ran a red light – mid-light, not rushing the yellow – in Remuera. I live near the Greenlane roundabout. I should video what goes on there every day. It’s both tragic and hilarious.

  • Sanctuary

    I like the idea of combining these with red-light cameras. It’s an appeal fairness – additional warnings inplace so you have no excuse when you are pinged – that is often missing from traffic management, where councils seem to think they have a right to be underhanded and sneaky and generally bounders.

    One other thing – the Americans apparently allow right hand turns on a red. I wonder if we could do the same thing for left turns at red lights, or are NZ drivers to terminally stupid to cope?

    • Ari

      Left on red is too dangerous. Apparently we tried it here in the 80’s and pedestrians died so we gave up on that.

      • Chris R

        I’d be interested to know the injury stats for right-on-red in different cities in North America. I’ve walked around a fair bit in Toronto, Vancouver and Calgary, and drivers turning right always seem to proceed carefully and give way when required. Annoys me much less as a pedestrian and on my bike than the dangerous behaviour you get around slip lanes in Auckland.

        I suspect successful turn-on-red rules require much less entitled drivers and a much less auto-centric/speed-enabled streetscape than we have in Auckland.

        • NZ has the somewhat unusual property that pedestrians normally have to give way to turning traffic.

          And also how strict are the driving license tests (or, used to be)? Do you fail the test if you turn left without checking your mirror?

          • Chris R

            Yes, it’s quite an adjustment when I go overseas and realise that drivers are giving way to me…

            I really wish NZ would change that rule. The Ontario road code says something along the lines of ‘pedestrians crossing the road are considered traffic, turning traffic gives way to straight, so give way to pedestrians’. It makes so much more sense and makes a huge difference to the walking experience.

            My own driving test was too long ago to remember properly, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised if they were less than strict in the 80s.

          • > NZ has the somewhat unusual property that pedestrians normally have to give way to turning traffic.

            But only at unsignalised intersections. At traffic lights, as in most of the world, pedestrians have the right of way over turning traffic (assuming both have a green light).

          • Dave B (Wellington)

            @ Stephen Davis. In many countries you wouldn’t get conflicting pedestrian and traffic movements both getting a green light. This is a particular example of Kiwi stupidity!

  • Chris

    Combined red light/speed cameras are the answer. They work well in Aus. I have experience driving in both countries and the red-light running here in NZ is staggeringly higher than Aus.

  • Not all red-light runners are motorists. Yesterday afternoon I waited for the light to change at Wellesley Street crossing Nelson Street – I was heading east. The light turned green for me. I took off – accelerating slowly, fortunately – and a woman on a bicycle swept past me – I braked pretty hard, but strill she had to swerve to miss me – heading down Nelson Street.

    She would have been rather less happy about the collision than I 🙂 It is tough for cyclists in Auckland traffic – I wouldn’t have the nerve to be one – but they need to drive defensively. A friend of mine, years ago, had his arm dislocated.

    jj

    • JimboJones

      But at least cyclists are only putting their own lives at risk.
      As a recent cyclist I’ve wondered if we get the same sentences / fines for breaking road rules. If I speed on my bike I’m only really putting my own life at risk, should I get the same fine as a car? Same with drink riding/driving.

      • Nick M

        To be fair a cyclist in a situation where they are breaking the speed limit would be capable of causing serious harm or even death to a pedestrian.

        • JimboJones

          I suppose – but much less capable than a car.

          • Nick

            And what about other cyclists, pedestrians or motorcyclists? Or the emotional toll on someone that is involved in a cyclists death/terrible injuries? The cyclists family when they pass or have to look after their now severely injured and incapacitated relative?

            There are a lot of road users who aren’t as protected at as a driver’s body in their car cocoon. And I do not accept that cyclists are only putting their own lives at risk at all, and wish it would stop being bandied about. Accept the fact that your reckless behaviour has a potential effect on other people and you are no longer 15 with a brain that is still not able to fully process the consequences of your actions.

  • Brendan

    Maybe I’m missing something but don’t we already have a nationwide red light warning system already in place – it’s called an orange light!

    It sounds like they are actually trying to fix a flawed intersection layout. Shouldn’t they focus on the layout then?

    • Greg N

      You are right, it is a badly designed intersection.

      But as this is in Remuera, where (those who believe they are) the powerful and rich live, and so have rights the rest of us do not.
      The chances of making radical changes to the intersection design is zero. AT (and Auckland City Council before them) looked at many designs and have not come up with an improvement.

      Apparently the nearby supermarket in Clonbern road has special requirements and their frequent, large articulated delivery trucks prevent AT making the intersection improvements that AT would like.

    • peterc

      Unfortunately the orange light is generally regarded as a warning that the green phase is about to stop, not that a red light is imminent. ‘Orange-light running’ is the most common Road Code breach I see.

    • Ari

      It is insanely costly to retrofit these types of intersections. So many buildings need to be demolished in order to align the two intersections into a single intersection. It is rarely worth it to bash down buildings to build more roads.

      • Brendan

        You could solve the problem by just changing the programming without physical changes.

        The problem is people see at a red light see a green light. Solution, synchronise the lights so that you don’t see the red/green scenario. Show red/red or green/green.

        • Scott M

          I think this would make an interesting blog post – why is AT which is the statutory manager of the road resource continually kowtowing to squeaky wheels and Local Boards. Yes they have to consult, but just because a few vocal people oppose something doesnt make it a bad idea.

          The Orakei Local Board holding up Ngapipi is a classic example. They have no authority, someone should tell them that.

  • When I see people running red lights in NZ cities, it often seems that the drivers are reflexively following the car in front. That car in front is going, so they can go too. So I’m not too hopeful that additional signals will fix anything. Many offenders won’t see them, any more than they see the current red lights.

    Here in Christchurch we have the additional problem of many large intersections without right filter arrows, which have trained the populace to squeeze into the intersection as best they can and then turn on red.

  • Stu Donovan

    I think there’s another benefit from these lights: Encouraging vehicles to stop on the stop-line.

    I’m always struck by how many drivers in NZ think it’s OK to simply stop over the pedestrian crossing, i.e. ignore the stop-line altogether. Not something I see so much elsewhere …

    • Early Commuter

      If this happens to you on Hobson St, just walk over the car.

      • stu donovan

        Given that i live in amsterdam its unlikely to happen.

        I also don’t think thats necessarily the best long term response ;). Better to change behaviour …

        • Maybe they assume no pedestrian will ever use that crossing. In most parts of Auckland that assumption would be correct.

          Isn’t blocking the pedestrian crossing also a infringement?

          • Stu Donovan

            yes, stopping on pedestrian crossing is an infringement, but it’s not enforced very rigorously by the Police.

          • Early Commuter

            AND IT HAPPENS RIGHT BEHIND THE EFFING POLICE STATION ON HOBSON ST
            (apologies for caps, but entirely required given how annoyed this makes me…)

          • At least people usually respect the red left turn arrow over there. There are plenty of areas in Auckland where waiting for that arrow would result in a lot of angry tooting from the well-behaved, polite, and cultured people behind you.

    • jezza

      Someone did this to me in Christchurch once. I walked across looking a little terse, realising his mistake he opened his door and said “Sorry mate, just come on through!”. Made my day I couldn’t be pissed off after that.

  • JimboJones

    Education is another good option. I’m not talking about the AT billboards that just say something along the lines of ‘please don’t run a red light’, something more along the lines of ‘if you deliberately run a red light and hurt or kill someone, you will be going to jail’. Then of course you need judges to enforce that.

    • conan gorbey

      You only go to jail if you shoot someone or hit them with a baseball bat. Hitting them with a car will land you with a suspended license and maybe a fine.

  • Auckland has a real issue with red light runners – from cyclists to trucks and trailers. There are three answers:

    1: Design the situation away – by reducing the ability to run red lights, by improving PT, cycling and walking facilities to remove cars from the road and to create physical separation between humans in cars and humans on bikes and walking.
    2: Red light cameras everywhere and fines that recognise the seriousness of the offence. And with decent cameras we should be able to also ping people who are clutching a cell phone at the time – as many do.
    3: Shame. As someone above said we don’t haver to wait for long at certain intersections to see red light runners and potentially fatal incidents. So let’s choose a day and photograph and video people for a certain amount of time at certain intersections and post them onto a site. The sheer volume is a story in itself, the recognition that they are doing something wrong is the real goal.
    4: Lobbying to change the law to allow evidence taken by members of the public for certain dangerous driving offences (red light running, using cell phone while driving, wild overtaking etc). I’m in two minds about this as we don’t want neighbours lying on neighbours, but if AC and AT continue to avoid this issue then something has to happen before too many people die.

    • Nik

      It strikes me that given the introductory sentence of the previous comment was three answers and four are listed is analogous to the issue at hand. (I think Lane’s suggestions are reasonable.)

      Lots of people have a simple or pet answer, but when the intended solution is applied the unintended consequences make these solutions not as simple as expected.

      I think that AT should be congratulated at trailing a potential solution to this issue, which would be difficult to resolve given the entrenched views of those most likely affected.

      My solution would be LRT, with at least as much coverage as the previous network.

  • Alex

    Auckland and New Zealand’s problem is the lack of enforcement.

    What is the difference between someone who to runs a red light than someone who overspeed. Why does NZ police only focus on those who overspeed and just turn a blind eye on those who also break the rule and endanger other peoples life?

    • stu donovan

      Catching people who speed is easy. Catching people who run red lights is much more labour intensive.

      • I wouldn’t think so. Don’t you have red light cameras in Amsterdam?

        In Belgium on arterials there are almost always red light cameras at signalised intersections. And I mean all of them. They work with induction loops in the road, and they can detect both red light running and speeding. People do stop at orange lights over there.

        • Stu Donovan

          I’m told there’s a whole district of red light cameras here in Amsterdam …

          Not but more seriously, I don’t know as I just moved here and have never driven. But yes of course it’s easy once you install red light cameras – hitherto the problem in NZ has been the Police’s reluctance to install these cameras and instead relying on manual enforcement.

      • Ari

        It is just police and council arguing over who keeps the money, that’s why there are so few cameras around.

  • Dave B (Wellington)

    Of course the logical and consistent answer is to mandate the fitting of ETCS Level 1 to all road vehicles.

    Oh, and any driver violating a red should immediately be relieved and compulsorily breath-tested, just like they are on rail.

    Why is road-safety treated so much less-seriously?

  • aucklanderinaus

    I too have almost ran a red light due to an extremely closely spaced intersection. They were both green, however the one closest to me went red (and pretty quickly too) whilst the one further along stayed green. It was under a motorway over bridge, so vision was a little obstructed. It was only by luck that I looked twice and slammed on the breaks. I consider myself a very attentive driver, but not everyone is. So I can understand why this problem exists. In saying that, I struggle to see how this will work and if it will be effective. Will be interesting to see.
    The better solution would be better road/intersection design, but that’s costly.

  • Anthony McBride

    In Christchurch they have several really close intersections with lights, so their solution is to have them always in sync with each other to prevent any red-light running.

    https://goo.gl/maps/Tp3RvYDp2F92

  • NigelTwo

    Good grief, how many red lights do there have to be in order to get a vehicle driver to stop?
    Why stop (sic) here. With a laser show there could be a red brick curtain drawn up across the intersection! And still the red light runners would claim “I didn’t see it”.

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