ROAD TRAFFIC: Use smart traffic lights to ease jams
I WOULD like to highlight the traffic jam problem in Kuala Lumpur and the role of traffic policemen. Traffic jams are a common sight in most major cities in the world, and Kuala Lumpur is no exception.
I hope my views would not be misconstrued by the traffic police.
I think most Klang Valley residents will agree that the way traffic has been controlled by the traffic police has not changed since the 1980s and 1990s.
The problem lies with the system and not with the traffic police. On more than one occasion, I have noticed that the traffic jam is made worse with the presence of traffic policemen.
When there is a traffic jam, especially at an intersection with traffic lights, the traffic is controlled by the traffic policemen. They will usually give priority to motorists in the lane with the highest volume of traffic.
While this is good and makes sense, I think this system is quite outdated.
Instead, modern-day technology can be used to help the traffic policemen.
I rarely see traffic policemen using radios to communicate with fellow policemen at the other intersections. This can be good practice as the traffic policemen can relay information on the traffic condition at his intersection.
This is important because there is no point if one policeman allows traffic to move at his intersection when there is a congestion at the following intersection.
A quick check online reveals that there are many types of modern-day "smart" traffic lights that come with motion detectors (loop, video and radar detectors).
These devices can effectively detect the presence of vehicles in a particular lane. This will increase the efficiency of traffic signal operations.
Recently, a friend who was visiting from Europe was surprised to see the traffic light system we have in place in the city. Our traffic lights comprise simple devices with a pre-programmed time limit before the lights change.
He said in most European cities, the traffic lights could detect incoming traffic and change accordingly to allow the traffic to flow unimpeded.
How many of us have been annoyed when we drive home at 1am with no traffic on the road and yet we have to stop for a red light? And if we ignore the traffic lights, we get a summons in the mail.
Having traffic lights with motion detectors would eliminate this situation.
I urge the traffic police as well as City Hall to improve the way road traffic and traffic jams are managed in KL. I think we can learn from other countries on how best to manage traffic jams.