In My Opinion

June 14, 2012

In My Opinion: Ignoring study sets dangerous precedent

In light of the recent decision to reinstall a traffic light at the intersection of Elm and Margaret streets, I felt compelled to clarify serious misconceptions that persist about traffic signals.

The basic question that must be answered is: Will this intersection operate better with or without a traffic signal?

First and foremost, traffic signals are used to assign vehicular and pedestrian rights-of-way. They are used to promote the orderly movement of vehicular and pedestrian traffic and to prevent excessive delay to traffic.

The idea that an intersection is any safer due to a traffic signal is not necessarily true, as is shown in a multitude of studies and data. In fact, unjustified or improper traffic-control signals can result in one or more of the following disadvantages: excessive delay, excessive disobedience of the signal indications, increased use of less adequate routes as road users attempt to avoid the traffic-control signals and significant increases in the frequency of crashes (especially rear-end crashes).

Secondly, a traffic signal does not resolve all traffic problems at an intersection. Traffic-control signals are often considered a panacea for all traffic problems at intersections. This belief has led to the installation of signals at many locations where they are not needed and where they may adversely affect the safety and efficiency of vehicular, bicycle and pedestrian traffic.

Lastly, traffic signals should not be installed unless one of the warrants specified by the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices has been satisfied. An engineering study must be conducted to determine whether the traffic signal should be installed.

The installation of a traffic signal requires sound engineering judgment and must balance these sometimes conflicting goals: moving traffic in an orderly fashion, minimizing delay to vehicles and pedestrians, reducing crash-producing conflicts and maximizing capacity for each intersection approach.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
In My Opinion
  • In My Opinion Follow Vt. lead on prescription drugs

    Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin recently called attention to a national crisis when he dedicated his entire State of the State message to address what he called Vermont's "full-blown heroin crisis," writes John Coppola of New York Association of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Providers Inc.

    March 12, 2014

  • In My Opinion: Rail companies must take action

    I write to commend emergency response officials in Essex County for taking a proactive approach to the increasing number of freight trains carrying crude oil through our communities on the Canadian Pacific line, as described in the Feb, 23 article, "Essex County developing disaster-response plans as rail traffic grows," writes Rep. Bill Owens.

    March 4, 2014

  • In My Opinion: Communal energy conservation urged

    Recently, several articles appeared in the Press-Republican about the City of Plattsburgh's electric rates and energy policies, writes SUNY Plattsburgh assistant professor Curt Gervich.

    March 3, 2014

  • In My Opinion: Support gave boost to broadcasting

    As many of you know, this is my 40th and final year of broadcasting Plattsburgh State Cardinal Hockey, writes WIRY broadcaster Ducky Drake.

    February 20, 2014

  • In My Opinion: Prison closures will increase danger

    In January, the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision released its annual report on the state of New York's prisons, writes NYSCOPBA President Donn Rowe.

    February 18, 2014

  • In My Opinion: Everyone must commit to end smoking

    Smoking-related illnesses will cause 5.6 million children alive today to die prematurely unless smoking rates drop, the latest Surgeon General's Report says, write no-smoking advocates Glenn Pareira and Kendra Gertsch.

    February 12, 2014

  • In My Opinion: The right approach to youth sports

    Another youth basketball season is upon us, writes Town of Ellenburg Youth Director Chris Brooks. Local counties do a great job of organizing these leagues for our children to be able to participate and learn skills at a young age.

    January 8, 2014

  • In My Opinion: Fair evacuation plan needs review

    A year has come and gone with another great professional job done by our Clinton County Fair management, putting on its best yet entertainment.

    January 7, 2014

  • In My Opinion: New care models for aging population

    Our communities are experiencing a growing percentage of older residents, who are becoming increasingly savvy when it comes to health-care decisions, according to the administrators of local nursing homes.

    December 24, 2013

  • In My Opinion: Respect diversity of gender November is Transgender Awareness Month across the United States -- a time to celebrate the diversity of gender that many Americans, and especially many New Yorkers, share.

    November 25, 2013

Videos: Editor Picks