By Chikezie Ogbonna
When people think about traffic lights, there is always the association with a 3-lamp light that has green at the bottom, yellow in the middle and red at the top.
The traffic lights are one of the best ways to guarantee the safe flow of traffic everywhere. Even though the most known colors in traffic signals are red, green, and yellow, their meaning may vary, depending on countries.
The red color is generally associated with “stop” and this is the meaning almost everywhere.
As our roads get more congested year on year due to the amount of people on the road, the risk of accidents escalates. You cannot predict what may happen day-to-day but as we are all aware, it is important to drive safely and understand how to deal with situations as they arise.
So we all know that green means go, yellow means wait, and red means stop. However, many of us don’t know about the history of traffic light control systems. The first traffic control device (like the ones we know today) was placed on top of a tower at the Rue Montmartre and Grande Boulevard in Paris, France.
It was managed by a police officer who would operate it by hand, but the first three coloured innovation first appeared in Detroit, USA.
An officer named William Potts was behind the invention who was concerned how officers couldn’t change the lights they were in charge of at the same time.
A lot of history has happened since then and no doubt that these changes will continue as years go on.
The emergence in Enugu
In Enugu, the city metropolis used to have functional traffic lights before 2007, however, due to our specialty as a people never to maintain anything, as expected, they went into oblivion.
However, the administration of Sullivan Chime which lasted for 8 years, from 2007 to 2015 revived the traffic light culture in the streets of Enugu. Within those period, many traffic lights sprang up in the city metropolis with the then State Capital Territory operatives operating as enforcers of it as they pounced on defaulters at every given chance.
Some of the many benefits that a traffic light control system provides might include the safe movement for cars to help them avoid collisions with cars and people. They help movement and help conduct an orderly flow by giving right of way to some cars and not others. They not only make car traffic a lot safer but also pedestrian traffic. They help reduce the number of accidents and make collisions at intersections a lot less frequent. They play a crucial and vital role when it comes to safety in our everyday lives.
Signal timing is something that plays a very important factor in all of this. It is what actually makes this function and provides people with safety in traffic flow.
There are three main types of signal timing which include fixed timing, actuated timing, and coordinated timing. Fixed timing uses the same present time intervals that do not change in accordance to traffic volume. Actuated timing uses a detector that is able to adjust itself to different traffic volumes. Coordinated timing helps minimize starting and stopping at random which helps traffic flow and is less likely to create a traffic jam.
As in the case of Enugu, the operational traffic lights make use of fixed timing.
Traffic Light challenges in Enugu and how to fix it
Some things that could happen if there were no traffic lights could include total chaos on the road. There would be nothing to tell people when to go and when to stop. Total gridlock would happen on a daily basis which is a nightmare for everyone! The number of accidents and fatalities would rise significantly. More and more people would also be late to school or work on a daily basis all because of the absence this one great invention. Not to mention that it would be nearly impossible for anyone to cross the road while being sure when cars are going to stop, which would also increase pedestrian related accidents.
However, there is an emerging call in the Coal City for government to look into the timing computation of many traffic lights in the state metropolis. Inside Coal City observed that many of the traffic lights has become a torn in the flesh of commuters especially as it relates to the level of long cue of traffic it is causing due to its poor timing.
Inside Coal City gathered that though the management of traffic lights in the state has been handed over to a traffic management team created by the state government but its enforcement is still under the confine of the state Ministry of transport.
While speaking to Inside Coal City, the public relations officer of Enugu State Ministry of Transport, Louis Nnadi, called for an adjustment on the timing of the traffic lights in the metropolis. He specifically noted what he described as poor timing with the traffic lights located in places such as; Ogui road by tunnel, Garden Avenue by tunnel as well as the ones located at Zik Avenue.
He revealed that due to the near daily traffic congestion occasioned by the poor timing, MOT traffic officers stationed at those locations sometimes resort to bypassing the traffic light to manually control traffic at the area.
He further affirmed the resolve of the Ministry of Transport to enforce existing traffic rules in the state while reinstating the 10,000 naira fine for defaulters.