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Old 26th December 2013, 08:49   #1
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Cool German town gets rid of Traffic Signals altogether

What would happen if we dared do this in India?

"In this fascinating public experiment, a German town wanted to see what would happen to traffic flow if they got rid of street signs, lights and other restrictions. The results are intuitive, but not what you would expect! Everything got safer and faster. Would this model hold true for other areas of infrastructure? Drivers must give way to the left and not drive too fast. Thatís the only rule. Even the police love the new system, and best of all, people are safer on the road. Drivers are much more aware and use eye contact and instincts. People WANT to stop for other people and help things move more efficiently."

http://themindunleashed.org/2013/12/german-town-abolishes-traffic-lights-codes-accidents-now-almost-non-existent.html


The experiment is now being expanded and has been implemented is some other European countries too.
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Old 26th December 2013, 09:19   #2
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Default re: German town gets rid of Traffic Signals altogether

Drivers of these western countries rely blindly on traffic lights, signs and symbols hence leave very little room for third party errors. In India even after seeing a green light we double check the intersection for any un-foreseen happenings. Additionally experiments like these can only work in low population towns/cities where life is a bit laid-back unlike some of the Indian metros. Nonetheless goes to show how simplicity and basic things like give way can do wonders to the traffic situation and road safety.
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Old 26th December 2013, 09:24   #3
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Default re: German town gets rid of Traffic Signals altogether

Well, you know what would happen in an Indian context. The big difference here is when they do have signals, the Germans obey them. We treat them as non-existent even when they are working.
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Old 26th December 2013, 09:30   #4
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Default re: German town gets rid of Traffic Signals altogether

Quote:
Originally Posted by Musa View Post
What would happen if we dared do this in India?
Nothing much will change as most of the people in most of the parts of the country drive as they wish with complete disregard to the lights.

However, I am sure Gurgaon will turn into a ZERO accident zone too as all vehicles will get stuck at junctions with no one willing to give way to another vehicle. They may be a few cases of deaths due to road rage though!
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Old 26th December 2013, 09:40   #5
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Smile re: German town gets rid of Traffic Signals altogether

Quote:
Originally Posted by Musa View Post
What would happen if we dared do this in India?

Drivers must give way to the left and not drive too fast. Thatís the only rule. Drivers are much more aware and use eye contact and instincts. People WANT to stop for other people and help things move more efficiently."


I don't know about any other 3rd world nation, but I can't see that happening in India.

An average Indian doesn't give way to the left.
An average Indian drives way too fast everyday, doing 80 in a 40 zone.
We are hardly aware of what's coming from the left/right/behind before we swerve into the tiniest gap our eyes can see.
And last of all, we have no intention of stopping for anyone else.

Isn't it a thumb rule here that the moment you get into an accident, you should raise your voice and start shouting even if it is your fault?
With such people on the roads armed with such notions, can you imagine the nonsense that will happen if traffic lights were removed?
At-least now, some comfort can be taken from the knowledge that the traffic lights are working, so perhaps people will obey it.

Take that away, and what you are asking for is total and utter chaos.
Sure, us enthusiasts might take a liking to this method. But asking an average Indian to do this, is nothing short of a disaster.
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Old 26th December 2013, 10:21   #6
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Default re: German town gets rid of Traffic Signals altogether

Well, to begin with, the European towns have the full carriage width of the road available for vehicular traffic.

In India, the roads are overrun with:
- parked vehicles, both in and outside of designated areas
- stopped vehicles, occupying at least one lane outside of the parked vehicles
- pedestrians, who have no pavements to walk on. perhaps because there is just no space, or it has been dug up, or due to:
- hawkers/ street vendors who have taken up the pavement or a part of the road, mostly both
- people crossing the road at various places other than designated zebra crossings. they jump over BRTS walls, create holes in the barricades and dividers. acts which would constitute as illegal in the rest of the world
- animals cross more sanely than most people I have seen. but they should still not be around on the roads
- processions and protests. from birth through marriage, election canvassing, victory marches to funerals, our roads are a free assembly places
- beggars, signal vendors and poor children forced into twisting their arms and shoulders into some silly oval metal ring
- hoardings with the local pappu, munna, etc. usually the next goon-in-waiting. poles usually entrenched into the road itself
- pandals for playing random item songs from wallfulls of speakers under the garb of festivals and religion

I can go on and on with more things that encroach our roads. Whatever little sanity we have due to the signals will also disappear. In my opinion we will enter into perpetual chaos on the streets, which while not far from the current state of matters, will ensure we stay locked up in our vehicles
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Old 26th December 2013, 12:11   #7
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Default re: German town gets rid of Traffic Signals altogether

As far as I know/visited, except for metros. major cities the small towns in India will have the traffic signals working while the traffic police are in duty. Rest of the times they will not be working. Hence there will not be much impact if we remove these signals also as people are already dependent on their instincts/habits.

Also, if you give these towns beautiful infrastructure also, people will not change. For example, people still come on the wrong side on a 4 lane highway from these towns.

Thanks,
Ravikumar N
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Old 26th December 2013, 14:57   #8
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Red face Re: German town gets rid of Traffic Signals altogether

Quote:
Originally Posted by Musa View Post
What would happen if we dared do this in India?
Who says this hasnt happened in India? Try non functional signals at the busiest junctions where no traffic cop is present and you will find people do dare to drive through them without any interruptions.

In the western countries, it is the fear of the law which makes people blindly follow the traffic rules, the fines/penalties are severe with the chances of driving licence being cancelled one of them. This is totally opp in India where law does not instill a sense of responsibility.
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Old 26th December 2013, 15:12   #9
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Default Re: German town gets rid of Traffic Signals altogether

In Germany, only towns are off traffic lights (not cities).
In India too we have so many towns without signals and are indeed safe.
With a constant low traffic, the signal would limit the flow.
Its a News in west; not for India.

BTW, in India, its "give way" to the traffic from right.
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Old 26th December 2013, 15:15   #10
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Default Re: German town gets rid of Traffic Signals altogether

Indians are raised right from their childhood in a way that makes them dependent on a central figure of authority which tells them right and wrong. They never develop the faculty to analyze and decide this on their own. Also in case we have miscreants in the developed societies - they are taken care of very promptly and efficiently. Here in India - it is a matter of pride to break all rules and come out unscathed.

The thorough indiscipline in all aspects of life (including traffic) stems from this.

Last edited by alpha1 : 26th December 2013 at 15:16.
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Old 26th December 2013, 15:37   #11
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Default Re: German town gets rid of Traffic Signals altogether

I remember when seat belt usage was coming in. W Germany prescribed no penalties for non-compliance, when asked they simple stated we expect our citizens to follow the rules! A bit of a contrast with Mera Bharat Mahan.
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Old 26th December 2013, 16:57   #12
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Default Re: German town gets rid of Traffic Signals altogether

Isnt such a system already in place in most town and villages. This is also very much possible since a lot of our villages still dont have electricity at all, where will they get electricity for traffic lights.
Case in point for Mumbaikars will be Lonavala - There are absolutely no signals (one which is there never works) and still traffic flows rather well, unless its a long weekend and everyone from Pune and Mumbai just swoops down for the holidays.
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Old 26th December 2013, 19:03   #13
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Default Re: German town gets rid of Traffic Signals altogether

As "selfdrive" has pointed out, in the indian context , roads are considered a place fit for public use, so when compared to people in other countries (read Germany or EU, US) where they would use a designated place for marriages, funerals, community celebrations and other such activities, we would use the local roads (could be a one way street or a multi lane highway) as places to hold such events.

In this context the whole idea of having roads for vehicular traffic goes for a toss and consequently not having any regulating entities (read traffic signals and other regulating mechanisms) would create a new meaning/level for CHAOS on our roads.

bottom line : no chance in a miilion years that this can ever be implemented on indian roads
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Old 26th December 2013, 20:23   #14
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Default

Northern Europeans, Scandinavians and Islanders like the Brits and Icelanders etc are generally a highly disciplined people. Quite a contrast in behaviour will be seen in Southern Europe and the countries which have warmer climes. Italy, Spain, Portugal, Greece, Southern France etc. While these named are certainly much better than us Indians, they are 'chaotic and indisciplined' as per the lights of the Northern Europeans! If this 'traffic light-less' experiment were to be tried in these warmer countries of Europe, we can safely say that it will create complete breakdown and chaos like it will in India.
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Old 27th December 2013, 14:34   #15
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Default Re: German town gets rid of Traffic Signals altogether

Actually it's not a bad idea at all. And I refuse to believe that it would not work for Indian conditions. Let's get back to the basics of traffic lights for a moment. Why is it used for in the first place?

Traffic lights are there to streamline traffic in such a way that there is minimum stoppages and regular flow of vehicles. Traffic signals allow vehicles to move towards the right direction without having to worry about oncoming vehicles or traffic.

However, one look at the intersections with traffic lights in India will suggest otherwise. There is maximum stoppage and highly irregular flow of vehicles. At many intersections you would notice traffic piling up on one side while making way for less number of vehicles on the other side. Due to this there is considerable loss of fuel and increase in pollution.

Some people tend to break signals because their brains assess the risk to be low when they see no oncoming vehicles. In India, definitely there are people who are habituated in breaking signals especially when there are no cops.

If you have seen the movie "traffic signal", there is a section where the traffic police is bribed to increase wait times at the signals to increase business for the street vendors. It really happens and I have noticed it at many intersections in Mumbai.

It is safe to say that traffic cops on the ground are not at all concerned with streamlining traffic but there to make money one way or the other. I have noticed several times when the traffic lights are not working, and the cops are directing the traffic, there is much more wait time at the intersections.

Now, if we remove traffic lights, what will happen? Have you noticed, how traffic moves in a roundabout? It is much more streamlined. There is hardly any confusion. There is very less stopping time. Vehicles in the roundabout automatically get right of way. Only thing is, some of the roundabouts in India is bit too large and obscures visibility.

So, what if we remove all traffic signals and replace with roundabouts? Wouldn't the traffic be much smoother? The traffic police don't have to man the signals any more. The roundabouts make the vehicles slow down anyway and hence either no accidents or less impact accidents for those stupid drivers.

This, with the strict implementation of rule "give way to the left" plus "right of way to pedestrians in intersections on zebra crossing" will surely make driving much less strenous and more efficient.

Having said that, I would also like to point out that my observation is applicable for a four way intersection. I would still suggest that traffic lights at T-junctions, pedestrian crossings on busy highways, near schools and hospitals is necessary.
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