Sydney’s first traffic light turns 80!


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?

Do you have The NRMA‘s legendary Road Assist? Don’t get caught without it.

- Renew your NRMA Membership
- Join the NRMA
- Find more about Membership options

Traffic congestion contributing to employee stress

Traffic congestionMore than half of small businesses in NSW and ACT say traffic congestion is contributing to employee stress, according to a recent survey, with almost one in 10 saying it’s responsible for staff sick days.

The NRMA BusinessWise Congestion Survey of almost 1000 businesses across NSW and the ACT revealed traffic pinch points are also hitting company bottom lines, with a third saying vehicle running costs are rising by up to $5000 a year, due to their vehicles spending an extra 40 minutes in traffic every day compared to 2012.

NRMA Director Kyle Loades says federal and state governments need to work together to improve roads.

“Whether its clogged city streets, or the poor condition of rural roads, businesses across NSW and the ACT are suffering,” Mr Loades says.

“Our Members would rather be at home with their families than stuck in unnecessary traffic delays and NRMA’s recent BusinessWise Congestion Survey found congestion was hurting productivity, pushing up costs and causing staff to arrive late work or not show up at all.

“That’s why the NRMA put forward a proposal to the federal government to create a $150 million Congestion Busting Fund in May, to encourage innovative solutions around the problem.”

“The Congestion Busting Fund would help stimulate creative ideas from local councils and the RMS, such as data sharing with drivers or replacing roadside parking at sensitive traffic locations with off-street parking.”

Let’s make our politicians take notice this election year. Sign the petition to Demand Better Roads and come to one of NRMA’s ‘Have Your Say on Roads’ chalk petition events in your local area. Our chalk petitions is a chance for you to literally have your say on roads with our chalk artist and find out more about road funding.

Article taken from the July/August 2013 issue of Open Road.

It’s time to make road safety a national priority


Have you recently been stuck in a traffic jam with your stress levels rising, swerved around a pothole or had a near miss due to poor road conditions? You are not alone.

By making road safety a national priority every day we would reduce the cost of road crashes on the community and ensure our national highways are safer for everyone.  Infrastructure and safety need a long term vision, they should not be tied to election cycles and electioneering.

This election year we need your help to make our politicians understand what matters to road users, so sign the petition to Demand Better Roads.

Three good reasons why you should sign the petition:

  • Safer roads save lives. Although safer vehicles and driver behaviour are important factors in reducing fatal crashes, up to 47 per cent of lives lost could be saved by improved roads.[1] Each year, road crashes in Australia are estimated to have a social cost of around $27 billion. The impact of losing a loved one in a preventable death is immeasurable.
  • Congestion is damaging our health and business bottom line. From speaking to almost 1000 businesses in our annual NRMA BusinessWise Congestion Survey, more than half reported that traffic congestion was a factor in employee stress. And it is not simply a matter of employees feeling the strain of the drive to and from home – around 10 per cent of small business owners believe the trauma involved in having to navigate NSW’s inadequate roads has led to staff taking sickies.
  • Getting what you’ve paid for. In financial year 2013-14, the Australian Government expects to raise $15 billion from the fuel excise, with only a third of that amount going back into road funding.[2] This means for every 38 cents per litre you pay in fuel excise, only 13 cents per litre goes back into the roads you use. This is not good enough.

Sign the petition now and let your local MP know that road safety and better infrastructure is important to you.

We believe this country deserves a better long term plan for road infrastructure.
What do you think will make our roads safer? Have your say below.

[1] How Safe Are our Roads? The 2011 Australian Road Assessment Program Report, Australian Automobile Association, 2012.

[2] Budget Strategy and Outlook, Budget Paper No 1, Statement 5, 2013-14, The Treasury.

Sydney congestion forces businesses to change operations

Sydney congestion

Sydney congestion is forcing businesses to change operations

Trying to get anywhere on time in Sydney can be a lottery. Any one of a number of things could go wrong that could reduce the likelihood of you getting to your appointment at all.

You only have to look back to a couple of months ago when our city was brought to a standstill by a breakdown in the Eastern Distributor.  It caused an epic traffic jam that stretched almost 15kms.

Two hours and two tow trucks later the car was removed from the tunnel and millions of dollars was lost in productivity.

Our roads are constantly running at or near full capacity so when a breakdown occurs there’s usually no plan B. The flow-on effect sees couriers run late, businesses unable to deliver their goods on time and as a result our economy suffers.

We recently surveyed 600 of our BusinessWise Members and found that almost half had spent up to $5,000 in operational costs as a result of traffic congestion.

Worse still, 50 percent of businesses have had to change the way their company operates in order to ensure that deliveries make it to their destinations on time.

Almost two-thirds changed the start and finish times of their employees in order to avoid peak periods, while another third have had no choice but to extended delivery times to ensure they met deadlines. These changes may work in theory but for some clients early morning and on-time deliveries are not negotiable.

The results shows us that over the past 12 months businesses have had to make some very tough decisions about how they operate and when they make deliveries because congestion in Sydney is so bad.

Unfortunately traffic jams that bring Sydney to a standstill are not going to disappear anytime soon. We need a plan with funding and timelines ready to go to ensure congestion is tackled and our road network improved. Otherwise our economy will continue to suffer.

Have you had to make changes to your business in order to get around traffic congestion?

Do you have The NRMA‘s legendary Road Assist? Don’t get caught without it.

- Renew your NRMA Membership
- Join the NRMA
- Find more about Membership options