Traffic accidents remain an issue nowadays even if traffic technology has evolved into the realm of computerisation. However, the problem can still be partly blamed on the way people behave during times when traffic is getting harder to manage. Indeed, being a flagger has become obsolete in many countries, but controlling traffic with the supervision of a human is still hard to replace. A middle ground can still be achieved with portable traffic lights. Looking for and buying portable traffic lights in Australia may no longer be that difficult as the market for the product has grown. Recent transportation research results may explain why.
Effect on Driver Behavior
When it comes to safety, a key variable that many transport researchers have focused on is the behaviour of the driver. Driver reaction to stop lights is found to be a significant contributing factor to accidents. Flagging has been the traditional approach to manage traffic, and their effectiveness has come with mixed results. However, with the creation of automated systems, such as portable traffic lights, some issues have been settled.
According to Transportation Research Record, the journal of the Transportation Research Board, remotely operated devices like a portable traffic light prove to be very effective in improving driver compliance rates. The effect of a remotely operated stop has been studied in many areas of the world. The current research examined a rural zone in Queensland, Australia. Although the new devices gave drivers some difficulty—due to the new light and arrow options—the effect was positive as drivers comply better. Indeed, there were higher approach speeds and faster deceleration rates than with a method that used a flagger, but the researchers concluded that this may be due to the fear of getting into rear-end crashes.
Effect on Work Zone Traffic
Making traffic zones safer is a major objective for transport researchers and policymakers. Having an even safer work zone, where traffic is harder to manage, is even more prioritised. Work zones are prone to accidents because they are where all workers pass through. There have been improvements in this case, however, with portable traffic lights.
Portable traffic lights make work zones safer. This is according to a paper reported in WRAL News in North Carolina. In the said study, using solar-powered portable traffic lights instead of a flagger was proved to be helpful in understanding the traffic flow better. The study area was a roadway construction project in the city of Raleigh. Instead of a flagman, a light operator, standing behind a fence, observes traffic patterns in the roadway, changing the lights according to the flow. The researchers revealed that most drivers reacted positively to the use of lights.
Traffic management is definitely a function of how drivers react to the flow of traffic with respect to their cars and their need to go to their destinations as fast as possible. With flaggers, experience tells that it is sometimes not as effective. With portable traffic lights, on the other hand, driver reaction is greatly improved.