Traffic lights and pedestrians


Sir, – For many years, the traffic light system where red means stop, green means go (where it safe to do so), and with amber urging caution, has been widely adopted in many areas of life. Weather warnings, supermarket checkouts, lifeguards, medicines, all use variations of this system. Most recently it has been used to indicate which countries we might travel to safely.

However, on our roads, where it is most critical, we have turned this basic, easily understood system upside down. We have introduced flashing green and flashing amber lights where pedestrians are crossing.

Unfortunately, most drivers read any amber signal, flashing or constant, as a signal to go.

For the pedestrian, flashing green can simultaneously mean stop, or maybe go, depending on where they find themselves as they cross!

How do you explain these contradictory rules to a child? To make this even more dangerous, the amber light often begins flashing for drivers precisely as the pedestrian green changes to flashing, with no delay between phases.

We need to go back to the basic three colours with no ambiguity or instant judgment calls required. – Yours, etc,



Dublin 16.