More and more these days I’m finding that where once there was free flowing traffic, there are now standing lanes of vehicles polluting the air and stretching back for a mile or so.
Why are we dumbing down everything in this country? It’s not as if it’s a particularly difficult concept. You just have to give way to traffic coming from the right. Admittedly there are a few dozy drivers who find this difficult to comprehend and would happily sit there all day giving way to the World and its Wife were it not for a honking of horns and useful hand signals that are not to be found in the Highway Code. These drivers are, for the most part, a minority and traffic does seem to flow well for most of the time.
Near to where I live in Kent there are two examples of this dumbing down. The first is the complete replacement of a roundabout with a traffic light junction.
At 4.15am on my way to work, where once I negotiated a simple roundabout, I sit and watch as invisible, phantom cars cross the junction. For a full two minutes I just wait there, again polluting the air with diesel fumes. Eventually they change only for the next set of lights to synchronise perfectly and change to red for another sixty seconds.
A few miles later at the roundabout for the M2/A249 is another example of traffic light lunacy. These lights were out of order a few weeks ago and it was bliss! No long queues, no frustrated drivers, just clear free flowing traffic. Then one morning they were back! By 8am it was horrendous. Complete chaos. Traffic queuing on the roundabout was blocking traffic trying to exit or join it. It was madness.
Admittedly there have been one or two shunts here, usually rear end collisions where one of the afore mentioned dozy drivers has failed to take an opportunity to join the roundabout, only to find a car slamming into their bumper. These accidents are never fatal and let’s face it, they give garages a steady supply of insurance work. Why should the free flow of traffic be denied to the majority of drivers who can use a roundabout by those who can’t?
Even where there could be reasonable excuse for placing these lights, why do they have to be working 24hrs? I mean at 5am is it really necessary to give way to nothing for what seems a lifetime, while a Police car parks discretely, ready to catch offenders jumping the lights?
I rang the council and was put from one extension to another until finally a Highways Officer told me quite candidly, that councils need to spend all their budgets by the end of march or they get it rolled over and consequently, cut from the following year’s funding. That’s why most of these projects get the go ahead.
Forget ‘Road Safety’ and ‘Aiding Traffic Flow’. It all boils down to bureaucracy and budgets. In the mean time I, and I expect many others boil away in our cars at it all.