Transport: Labour blocks free left turns at red traffic lights

The Government yesterday gave a thumbs down to uncontrolled turns to the left at traffic lights. Transport minister Glenda Jackson told MPs in the Commons that ministers were not in favour of a proposed adaptation to the system in the United States - where they drive on the right - turning right on red at traffic signals being introduced in Britain.

Although the department was looking at the possibility of guiding road traffic with amber arrows, she said that allowing traffic to turn left on a red traffic light signal would compromise safety.

Ms Jackson's remarks came after Tory MP Sir Michael Spicer (Worcestershire West) asked the Government to consider introducing the system at certain road junctions. He said the system had "greatly increased traffic flows" in the US.

"Traffic conditions in this country ... have reached near crisis proportions. There are times when it comes to a complete standstill," he said, adding that a recent study had shown that it took a cyclist 18 minutes to make a 1.7-mile journey through London while a motorist took 38 minutes.

Ms Jackson said signalling systems would become more "complex", holding out the possibility of introducing amber filter lights to give drivers more warning of when they were allowed to turn at a junction. But she said that, unlike the US, Britain's traffic lights responded to the approach of vehicles, which " reduces unnecessary delays and the need to introduce uncontrolled turns".

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