Traffic light malfunctions | Ghana News

Traffic light


Does anyone stop and think at traffic lights and traffic lights? And would it be weird to know that I do? In a city growing as fast as Accra, you’d think that would be something we did more often.

Imagine the extremely high levels of carnage and chaos that would ensue if we woke up one day and the traffic lights and signals were gone from our cities. Between commercial and private vehicles, motorbikes and bicycles, pedestrians and even baby walkers, the traffic and confusion would be worse than the traffic jam on China’s National Road 110 (Wikipedia contributors, 2022) which started on August 13, 2010 and slowed thousands of vehicles for over 100 kilometers and lasted a staggering 10 days!

Traffic lights first appeared (for public use) 154 years ago in 1868 in Parliament Square in London to reduce the number of police needed to control traffic. The genius invention that has saved more lives and livelihoods than we can ever hope to quantify has several varied applications. According to some experts, traffic lights have a general purpose, a specific purpose, and a more diverse purpose which includes the use of large image road safety signs.

The general, specific and diversified purpose

Regarding the elaborate and expanded purpose of traffic lights and traffic signals, the experts, ELTEC Corp, have documented it as such:

The general objective

  • Maintain a safe flow of traffic

From managing journey times to keeping roads safe, the majority of traffic lights are designed to keep cars, pedestrians, cyclists and anyone else using the road safe. These signals can be anything from warning signs to streetlights, from complex to simple, all with the goal of keeping people in their own lane. The idea here is to limit the speed and volume of traffic to safe levels by speeding up or slowing down traffic along the entire length of the road in question.

  • Ensuring the safety of pedestrians and vehicles

When it comes to intersections, crosswalks, school zones and other places where there areLike much of vehicular and pedestrian traffic, traffic signals help communicate potential risk areas for drivers and pedestrians. Signs that let you know a red light is around a curve, for example, prevent collisions or collisions between vehicles and pedestrians by alerting drivers to a sudden or unexpected stop or slowdown on the road. road. Typically, it’s about managing anywhere that roads and traffic might bump into areas with no traffic – downtowns, neighborhoods, or basically anything that isn’t a long, barren freeway.

  • Minimize the frequency and severity of accidents

Finally, traffic lights also play a role in limiting the number and intensity of accidents that occur. People aren’t infallible, so accidents happen even in some of the safest environments. In such situations, limiting speeds or designing a series of signals to slow or stop traffic can at the very least reduce the impact of accidents that do occur. In practice, this usually looks like speed limits or restructuring of lanes and major signals in high traffic areas that are more accident prone. »

The specific goal

Of course, over the years, traffic lights have evolved considerably to suit a wide variety of more specific uses. As neighborhoods and roads expand to cover more areas and weave through more places where we live, more specific and detailed traffic signals become necessary… In many cases, ita fairly consistent traffic light system is in place, but in some cases more specialized equipment makes sense. Specialized no necessarily means complex, of course. Something as simple as a deer crossing sign is a perfect example. ThisIt’s just a sign, but it’s specialized for areas susceptible to deer. It could also be more complicated of course, like a RRFB which improves the level of pedestrian and road safety where standard signage or signal strength is not sufficient.

“In the future, as people rethink the design of cars and cities to incorporate automation and AI, such as self-driving cars or more technologically advanced public transport, traffic signals will need to evolve further. . To account for increased speeds, more or less human interaction, and changes in urban design, we may see completely new traffic lights or unexpected evolutions of traffic lights that already exist.

Diversified objective

Of course, traffic lights work in tandem with civic design to increase safety. In the same way that traffic lights change to meet the needs and demands of different roads and urban design, the way people perceive urban design will also change. In some cities, a push for more bike lanes requires signage and signals that account for increased bicycle traffic. In other cities, a defined space in the middle of the city may be designated only for pedestrian traffic, or places that are only accessible by public transport(The purpose of traffic lights | ELTEC, 2019)

Reasons for the malfunction of traffic lights, signals and signs

Now, there are a myriad of reasons why traffic lights, signals, and traffic signs would malfunction or simply get damaged. Bad weather conditions are one of the most obvious and usual suspects. A fair amount of heavy rain and very high winds go a long way in rendering traffic lights, signals and signs out of service and usable. In Ghana, a series of malfunctions can be expected as we dive into the rainy season – A note to all to be extra vigilant. Of course, another reason they can malfunction includes situations where utility poles or the power grids that feed them (traffic lights and signals) also malfunction. Associated reasons such as outages and brownouts. There are also recorded incidents in which people have vandalized them (traffic lights, signals and signs); some people have even gone so far as to ram their vehicle into it. Additional reasons include tampering, power surges causing a short circuit; old deterioration of equipment; maintenance issues; dumping trash in traffic light crevices and other unknown reasons.

Who is responsible for repair and maintenance

So really, who can we confidently point to or refer to whenever one of our traffic lights, signals, or signs needs repair or replacement? Depending on the management structure around it, there are indeed several government agencies and at least one private company responsible for the maintenance, upkeep and repair of our traffic lights, signals and signs. Regarding the actors concerned, the following bodies/persons were mentioned, and hold different levels and degrees of responsibility:

  1. The Department of Urban Roads (DUR)
  2. The Traffic and Automobile Transport Department (MTTD)
  • Ghana Highways Authority (GHA)

According to an article published by Graphic Online, the following presents at least a superficial view of the multiplicity of authorities and the relative shared responsibilities they bear:

The Department of Urban Roads (DUR) has identified controller vandalism, theft of cables and the dumping of trash into controllers as some of the challenges affecting traffic signal functions.

DUR again said it was responsible for allocating funds and maintaining the traffic light, while contracted private companies operated it.

The Traffic and Transport Department (MTTD) is responsible for arresting motorists who break traffic lights.

Surprisingly, the MTTD, despite being at most junctions and intersections, often doesn’t seem to have the upper hand in traffic light monitoring.

ACP (retired) Tandoh, a retired MTTD boss, revealed in an online news that a driver who crashed at a traffic light was expected to report to police for investigation, after which the Ghana Highway Authority (GHA) takes to replace the traffic light.

Thus, the DUR, MTTD, GHA and other private companies all recognize that they play a role in keeping our roads safe. (Who watches the traffic lights?, 2018)


Now that we have this information, although inconclusive in some areas due to lack of sufficient data, we can all be better informed and take more responsible approaches to ensure that our taxable income is used responsibly, and we and those we care for are all the safer because we are not spectators and complainers, but citizens who understand the spirit of collective action, ownership and what it means to be a citizen!

Have a blessed week!

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Wikipedia contributors. (2022, May 27). China National Highway 110 traffic jam. Wikipedia.

The purpose of traffic lights | ELTEC. (2019). The purpose of traffic lights | ELTEC.

Who watches the traffic lights? (2018, July 28). Line graph.

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