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Image Credit – ACT Government

What the?!

That’s what’s gone through many people’s heads as they’ve driven cautiously through the new traffic lights at the Barton Highway roundabout.

It’s something many of us haven’t encountered before.. traffic lights at a roundabout?

When I drove through the other day, I had to stop THREE times while turning right from the Highway onto William Slim Drive.

I was left confused and a tad irritated – and as I’ve since discovered through chatting to others and reading social media posts, I’m not the only one with these feelings.

BUT I thought, rather than continue on my rant, I should find out exactly WHY traffic lights were installed.

And as it turns out, there’s two very good reasons.

One – there was a safety issue that needed to be addressed.

“That intersection had the highest recorded crashes in the territory at an intersection for the last five years in a row, so quite a significant safety issue there that needed to be fixed,” Director of Capital Works, Ben McHugh, said.

A lot of that was created by traffic congestion.

That brings us to the second reason – those long annoying queues.

 “The traffic lights allow us to give priority to certain movements, so we’re able to adjust and prescribe times to shorten those long queues,” Mr McHugh said.

“We’ve had lots of positive feedback on how congestion levels have been reduced, so with that, safety issues should be improved.”

As I was stopped what felt like a hundred times when I drove through for the first time (okay – perhaps I’m being a tad dramatic), I thought, surely this is going to result in several rear-end crashes, with people having to stop suddenly.

But that hasn’t been the case, with no reported crashes since the lights were installed a few weeks ago.

And Mr McHugh reckons as people get more used to it, the adjustment to using the signalised intersection versus the roundabout, will make it far safer.

“Because we’re taking away the decision making for the driver and replacing that with a controlled system, being the traffic lights,” Mr McHugh said.

Like all new projects on this scale, the Government admits, there are things that need to be tweaked and improved.

“We’ve got CCTV so we can monitor the intersection and see where there might be issues,” Mr McHugh said.

The Government has also acknowledged, it’ll be a bit of a tough road to start with (excuse the pun!).

“I’d like to thank the users for their patience, firstly through the construction period on what is a really busy road, but too with the way they’ve adopted it,” Mr McHugh said.

“Once people get used to the change, they will see the benefits from it, and people will generally be supportive of it.”

As we all know with any change to our roads, particularly if you go from one intersection type to another, there’s always a learning period.

So perhaps we need to be a bit more patient Canberra.

A little less road rage and more friendly smiles out the window!

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