What you need to know:
- Extra precaution is also needed because of boda bodas, several of which go through red lights at any time of the day.
An increasing number of streets in Kampala are being signalised. Some of the latest streets to receive traffic lights include Ntinda Road, stretching from Ntinda City centre to Spear Motors on Jinja Road, and Acacia Ave stretching from Kira Road at Acacia mall to Yusuf Lule Road at Fairway Hotel junction.
On a single drive through these streets and others, you will observe several drivers hitting red lights both in peak and off-peak hours.
Hitting a red light exposes you and other road users to some of the high severity accidents, including right angle collisions. The severity is likely to be higher in off-peak hours when speeds are higher compared to peak hours.
Traffic lights work by assigning right of way to conflicting traffic groups one at a time. Only traffic movements that do not conflict are allowed to go through the junction at the same time.
This greatly improves safety by reducing conflicts and reduces traffic jam especially in peak hours by reducing potential grid rocks.
Lights display green, yellow, and red signals. Green means go while red means stop and wait. Yellow means stop if you can safely do so before entering the junction and go if you cannot safely stop. There is a short phase where all lights are red to allow drivers trapped into the junction to exit before another movement is given green. We call this short phase “all red”.
What you will observe in peak hours is that several drivers try to force their way into the intersection during the yellow and all red phases some even encroaching on the green phase of the conflicting movement. This starts to cause avoidable grid locks and potential accidents. In off peak hours, you will observe some drivers totally ignoring the signals and going through red lights at full speed. This scenario poses the greatest risk as drivers receiving green will rightly proceed through the junction at full speed not expecting conflicting traffic. This could potentially result into right angle crashes.
Extra precaution is also needed because of boda bodas, several of which go through red lights at any time of the day.
At the onset of green, drivers, especially at the start of the queue, are advised to observe that all directions are clear before accelerating through the junction.
One of the methods used by agencies elsewhere to curb hitting red lights is installing cameras at traffic lights and imposing penalties on offenders. B
ut more importantly, individual drivers need to recognize that red durations during off peak hours are only in order of tens of seconds and stopping for these few seconds may save them and other road users from potentially high severity crashes.
DK Kakitahi, Traffic and Transportation Engineer