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Old 31.05.2012, 13:00
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Traffic lights turned off at weekends

Pretty dull thread I know, but it has had me thinking.

Near to me in Basel, at a pretty busy four way junction, the traffic lights are turned off at weekends. The result? A lot of extremely hesitant and confused drivers all looking at each other when trying to turn right.

Anyone know why this would be? They're not completely off, but just flashing the amber - other times they function properly.

I've had a pretty near scrape on my bike as a result, I think someone just panicked and gave it a Hail Mary style; I'm going NOW move.

Any ideas?
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Old 31.05.2012, 13:05
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Re: Traffic lights turned off at weekends

Priority to the right unless there are other road markings indicating priority. IE minor vs major road
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Old 31.05.2012, 13:12
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Re: Traffic lights turned off at weekends

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Priority to the right unless there are other road markings indicating priority. IE minor vs major road
And to paraphrase the highway code "when there's no obvious right of way, such as four cars at a crossroads, then it's up to the drivers to work it out for themselves".

I always liked that line ;-)

Why? Well, cos it means I have right of way over the other three hesitant muppets.
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Old 31.05.2012, 13:13
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Re: Traffic lights turned off at weekends

It's illegal to use the roads in Basel on weekends. The traffic lights flash amber to dissuade spiders from spinning webs on them during these periods (it doesn't work, by the way -- the spiders just spin their webs on the red and green lights. But it does generate jobs for the many Spinnennetz-Entferner.)
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Old 31.05.2012, 13:14
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Re: Traffic lights turned off at weekends

Yeah, I assumed this would be the case, you know, follow the rules of driving unlike a complete buffoon. The approach doesn't cater for all road-users though.

Anyway, I'm wondering if the reason is for turning them off is known, or do I continue my speculation (and occasional bursts of terror)
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Old 31.05.2012, 13:20
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Re: Traffic lights turned off at weekends

Depending on the traffic conditions, traffic lights can make the traffic flow better or worse.

Generally at a busy junction, you need them to make things run smoothly - but when it's quiet, however, they slow more people down than they help. So it's a good idea to turn them off when things are quieter - weekends and at night usually.
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Old 31.05.2012, 13:25
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Re: Traffic lights turned off at weekends

The traffic lights are there to regulate traffic during peak periods, when traffic flow is at it's lowest then the traffic lights are just a silly obstacle where you could be waiting for up to 2 minutes to emerge when you don't have to and that's why some of them turn into the flashing amber phase after a certain time of day.

The main road has priority here. The side roads always have the small triangle markings so you are supposed to give way. It confuses some of the people who are used to driving in the UK as the amber flashing taffic lights don't exist there, and the small triangles are normally one big white triangle and a double dashed line. To confuse matters further, the highway code in the UK stipulates that there are no rights of way (unless specified by a traffic sign), whereas here the right of way (in the abscense of other road markings) is always to the right.
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Old 31.05.2012, 13:31
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Re: Traffic lights turned off at weekends

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Priority to the right unless there are other road markings indicating priority. IE minor vs major road
Interesting contrast to the US, where one would find a different situation. When the traffic lights are off late at night there, the major, or "priority" road would show blinking amber, indicating right-of-way and thus no need for drivers to stop. The other minor road would show blinking red, indicating that a stop is necessary, with continuation through the intersection only after checking for oncoming cars on the intersecting roadway. Sometimes all four directions would show blinking red, effectively making the intersection a four-way stop.

A pretty major difference, though, in the treatment of the amber-flashing light; not without some potentially serious consequences.
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Old 31.05.2012, 13:43
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Re: Traffic lights turned off at weekends

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A pretty major difference, though, in the treatment of the amber-flashing light; not without some potentially serious consequences.
That's why it's important to learn the rules of the country you are actually driving in.

Get out your little books people!
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Old 31.05.2012, 13:50
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Re: Traffic lights turned off at weekends

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A pretty major difference, though, in the treatment of the amber-flashing light; not without some potentially serious consequences.
Jeez! I didn't know that, but I've never driven in the US, but I've driven in Canada which is similar, which might explain some of the beeps I was getting

Another interesting one in the states is the ability to turn right without waiting for the green light, even though I'm not 100% on how it works.
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Old 31.05.2012, 13:57
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Re: Traffic lights turned off at weekends

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Jeez! I didn't know that, but I've never driven in the US, but I've driven in Canada which is similar, which might explain some of the beeps I was getting

Another interesting one in the states is the ability to turn right without waiting for the green light, even though I'm not 100% on how it works.
About "Another interesting one in the states is the ability to turn right without waiting for the green light, even though I'm not 100% on how it works"
Not in all States which can add a certain "je ne sais quoi" to the driving experience.
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Old 31.05.2012, 13:59
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Re: Traffic lights turned off at weekends

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Jeez! I didn't know that, but I've never driven in the US, but I've driven in Canada which is similar, which might explain some of the beeps I was getting

Another interesting one in the states is the ability to turn right without waiting for the green light, even though I'm not 100% on how it works.
Yes, right on red is legal there (at least the state from which I hail). As long as there is not a sign specifically prohibiting it (which is rare and only in very specific situations) then it is completely permissible to check for oncoming traffic and proceed to turn right even though the light is red. In my 11 months here thus far, I have come across at least two American friends here in Switzerland who had absolutely no idea that right-on-red was illegal here!

(I probably should have also explained the little dashed priority-right triangles to them when I told them about the illegality of right-on-red)
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Old 31.05.2012, 14:39
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Re: Traffic lights turned off at weekends

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And to paraphrase the highway code "when there's no obvious right of way, such as four cars at a crossroads, then it's up to the drivers to work it out for themselves".

I always liked that line ;-)

Why? Well, cos it means I have right of way over the other three hesitant muppets.
I learned about the concept of 'Rechstfahren' or 'priorite a droit' from some German friends as a student many years ago. I explained (despite not holding a licence myself) that there was not such concept in the UK (we were in France). The could not get their heads around this concept.

"But who decides who can go first?"
-- well main roads have priority over secondary roads.

"But what happens when the roads are the same? Surely you need some sort of 'driver to my left goes first' or something similar?"
-- well in that case, the drivers work it out between themselves.

"But... Wait... How...?!?!?"
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Old 31.05.2012, 14:45
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Re: Traffic lights turned off at weekends

they do this at a certain busy junction in Fribourg, not just at weekends, but at some off-peak times too. I always think traffic is far more free-flowing and even safer; people pay a lot more attention.
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Old 31.05.2012, 14:46
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Re: Traffic lights turned off at weekends

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I learned about the concept of 'Rechstfahren' or 'priorite a droit' from some German friends as a student many years ago. I explained (despite not holding a licence myself) that there was not such concept in the UK (we were in France). The could not get their heads around this concept.

"But who decides who can go first?"
-- well main roads have priority over secondary roads.

"But what happens when the roads are the same? Surely you need some sort of 'driver to my left goes first' or something similar?"
-- well in that case, the drivers work it out between themselves.

"But... Wait... How...?!?!?"
Easier to simply explain that there's _always_ a marked priority, at last on any roads where you'll get a junction with traffic, i.e. excluding farm tracks and the like.
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Old 31.05.2012, 14:49
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Re: Traffic lights turned off at weekends

I've got a question regarding traffic lights here. What I've noticed is in the more complex intersections, the lights have the direction arrow/s printed on them. Let's say you're at an intersection and you want to take a left, but the light has only a straight arrow printed on it, are you still allowed to turn left once oncoming traffic has passed (and there is no sign prohibiting it) or must you maintain the direction printed on the light?
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Old 31.05.2012, 15:16
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Re: Traffic lights turned off at weekends

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I've got a question regarding traffic lights here. What I've noticed is in the more complex intersections, the lights have the direction arrow/s printed on them. Let's say you're at an intersection and you want to take a left, but the light has only a straight arrow printed on it, are you still allowed to turn left once oncoming traffic has passed (and there is no sign prohibiting it) or must you maintain the direction printed on the light?

Well I'm not sure here, but I would assume that you are not allowed to turn left
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Old 31.05.2012, 15:27
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Re: Traffic lights turned off at weekends

Yeah at first I had to really concentrate to not turn right on red here. I have lived in 6 states in the US and in all of them you could make a right turn on red. I think generally it is allowed unless it is indicated otherwise. An even stranger situation is being able to make a left turn on red but that only occurs when you are turning from a one way street onto another one way street. Only place I ever encountered that one personally was in downtown St. Louis.
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Old 31.05.2012, 15:39
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Re: Traffic lights turned off at weekends

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I've got a question regarding traffic lights here. What I've noticed is in the more complex intersections, the lights have the direction arrow/s printed on them. Let's say you're at an intersection and you want to take a left, but the light has only a straight arrow printed on it, are you still allowed to turn left once oncoming traffic has passed (and there is no sign prohibiting it) or must you maintain the direction printed on the light?
As you said, many intersections will have more than traffic light in order that there is a separate light for each lane going in different directions. Those lights have arrows indicated on the green in order to facilitate traffic flow (i.e. some directions will be red whilst others are green).

Other more simple intersections have only one traffic light, and the green light is simply a green circle. At those intersections, you must give way to oncoming traffic prior to turning left across it. In other words, if there is no specific green arrow pointing left to indicate you have the right of way, you must wait for the green circle light and then yield to oncoming traffic moving toward you through the intersection prior to making your left turn.

If you are at an intersection that has only one green light, and it shows only a straight arrow, I would assume that turning left is prohibited.
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Old 31.05.2012, 15:53
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Re: Traffic lights turned off at weekends

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I've got a question regarding traffic lights here. What I've noticed is in the more complex intersections, the lights have the direction arrow/s printed on them. Let's say you're at an intersection and you want to take a left, but the light has only a straight arrow printed on it, are you still allowed to turn left once oncoming traffic has passed (and there is no sign prohibiting it) or must you maintain the direction printed on the light?
If you had a green with a straight-ahead arrow then there would be another one with a left-turn arrow, if it were allowed. If not, it's reasonable to assume that you're not allowed to turn left, i.e. the lights are telling you, in lieu of any other signage.

So yes, you must maintain the direction printed on the light.
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