Paris removes traffic lights to fix congestion and improve safety

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In a bold move designed to reduce congestion and improve road safety Paris has begun to remove traffic lights from its streets.

According to expat publication The Connexion, the Mairie has introduced a scheme that sees traffic light junctions replaced with give-way junctions, 30kph (19mph) zones, roundabouts and even the priorité à droite.

The latter is little understood by foreign motorists. On roads where it is implemented, it means giving way to motorists joining from the right, even if they are leaving a minor road to join a main road. However, this system has long been denounced as archaic, as it does not apply in many instances, for example on autoroutes.

The aim of this new scheme is to make drivers more aware of the road and its other users, instead of just concentrating on the light.

Anne Souyris, co-president of the Groupe Écologiste de Paris, told Le Parisien: "Studies show that when you get rid of traffic lights at certain junctions drivers' waiting time is halved and there are fewer deaths because drivers have a tendency to slow down."

Statistics show that 14 per cent of France's annual road accidents – around 10,000 - happen at the country's 30,000 traffic light junctions.

The main cause of these accidents is excess speed, while one third are caused by drivers ignoring a red light. On average, 150 people lose their lives and a further 1,200 are injured at traffic lights each year.

Paris is following the likes of Abbeville, Bordeaux, Nantes, Niort, Rouen and Toulouse in reducing its number of traffic lights.
Since removing some of their light signals, these cities have already seen a reduction in both traffic jams and accidents.

Sébastien Dabadie, Paris's city infrastructure director, reportedly told journalists that traffic lights had already been removed from 40 junctions, and a further 160 would be removed by the end of 2018.

He attributed the move to road safety, adding: "Junctions are the only system under the Code de la Route where the pedestrian does not have priority."

Pedestrian safety has also been improved in Paris, with the introduction of central islands and raised crossings.