Sydney’s first traffic light turns 80!

mynrma-sydney-first-traffic-light

Pic: The Sydney Morning Herald

It still gets the green light from us after all these years…not bad for an 80-year-old, eh?

80 years ago today at precisely 11am Sydney’s first traffic light was switched on near the Queen Victoria Building (QVB) in Sydney’s CBD at the intersection of Market and Kent Streets.

Fast forward to 2013 and there are now 2,800 traffic lights spread across Sydney and more than 3,700 traffic lights across New South Wales.

Whether you’re a motorist, cyclist or pedestrian, traffic lights can feel like a help or hindrance to your journey. We know the frustrating feeling of constantly stopping at a seemingly endless stream of red lights in peak hour, but imagine the challenge of driving safely on the road without them.

Whether the focus is cars, buses, trucks, motorbikes, pedestrians, or bicycles, managing traffic lights is critical to managing Sydney’s traffic safely and efficiently.

We wanted to ensure traffic management in Sydney is efficient and after research into this issue, we developed the NRMA ‘Decongestion Strategy – 10 Ways to fix Sydney’s Traffic Headache’ that suggests improvements to traffic lights management. The Strategy, which has been welcomed by the NSW Government, includes new ways to help traffic lights react to changing traffic conditions.

Currently, traffic lights only detect vehicles prior to the stop line. This means, vehicles that creep over the stop line at red lights are not detected – and this also means you’ll be seeing red for longer. One of the suggestions put forward in the Strategy is to have advanced vehicle detectors that will wirelessly feed traffic lights with information on the number and type of vehicles approaching the lights. This traffic lights system would react better to changing traffic conditions and ease traffic congestion.

Traffic lights have come a long way and there’s still room for improvements, but there’s no denying the valuable role those three-coloured lights play in road safety.

These traffic lights tips get the green light from us:

Don’t drive through yellow lights

If the lights ahead turn yellow, stop safely. Driving through a yellow light is not only dangerous, it won’t get you far. More than likely you’ll be stopped by a red light at the next intersection.

Stop just before the white stop line – don’t creep over it

If you stop more than five metres before, or if you creep past the white stop line, the traffic lights may not detect your presence and, consequently, you may not get a green light.

On minor roads and right turn lanes

The traffic lights system in Sydney is adaptive, which means if there is a large gap in between cars, it could mistake that as the end of the traffic stream and switch to the red light. Aim to stay with the main group of vehicles.

What do you do to pass the time when stuck at a red light?

One thought on “Sydney’s first traffic light turns 80!

  1. When stuck at a red light, I try to stay calm and count to 10 slowly.
    My car must have a device fitted somewhere ( which I can’t find ) which automatically turns traffic lights red on approach.
    All I would really like is my share of green ones !!

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