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31 August 2005

Mott MacDonald completes trials into the use of intelligent amber arrows at traffic signal junctions

Mott MacDonald has completed a study into the use of the intelligent amber arrow at traffic signal junctions. The study was coordinated by John Gillam of Leicester City Council and funded by the Highways Agency and a number of participating councils including Leicester, Nottingham, Manchester and Bournemouth under the auspices of the Traffic Systems Group of the CSS. The work was carried out in collaboration with the Department for Transport (DfT). The aim of the study was to identify whether the intelligent amber arrow would overcome confusion at complex traffic signal junctions where some drivers start moving when a different traffic stream is signalled.

Earlier trials using a fixed amber arrow resulted in an increase in drivers over-running the closing fixed amber/red signal at the end of the green signal sequence. It was surmised that drivers could not see the fixed amber arrow as clearly as a normal amber roundel, the standard signal, or did not recognise it as a signal to stop. Intelligent amber arrows were developed by Microsense Systems to overcome this problem. The intelligent amber arrow opens up as a fixed amber arrow at the start of the signal sequence and closes as a normal amber roundel at the end of the green phase.

As part of the study, Mott MacDonald carried out video surveys at four signal junctions before and after the intelligent amber arrows were installed. The result of the surveys showed that there was no evidence that either fixed or intelligent amber arrows have a detrimental affect on safety at a junction. However evidence did show that during the opening amber period, amber arrows can overcome the confusion where double headed signals are used to control different movements separately at a stop line and, where speeds are higher, that the number of violations during the closing amber period are reduced. The intelligent amber arrows also appeared to reduce the number of violations during the closing red period at all of the sites surveyed.

Following the trials there is significant support from practitioners to introduce amber arrows more widely. The Department of Transport has agreed to the use of intelligent amber arrows at a greater number of traffic signal junctions within the UK in order to gain a better understanding of the benefits and develop advice on their use.

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