Gold Coast New Traffic Scheme Takes Effect in January 2013

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By Esther Tanquintic-Misa | November 9, 2012 11:58 AM EST

Effective January 2013, the Queensland State Government will implement a "left turn red" traffic system at several selected intersections on the Gold Coast in a bid to reduce and improve the state's vehicular traffic flow.

The trial, which starts on the southern Gold Coast, will guide motorists with signs displayed at certain intersections that states "left turn on red permitted after stopping" in black letters on a white background.

However, common sense would dictate that motorist drivers should turn left at selected intersections after giving way to other vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists.

The trial traffic system run is subsidized by the Gold Coast City Council. Should the scheme prove successful, the system will then be introduced to other parts in Queensland.

The "left turn red" traffic system, popular in the U.S., is already being implemented in NSW, South Australia, the ACT and the Northern Territory.

"This system operates in other Australian cities and we believe it can save drivers' time and reduce congestion at some intersections," Transport and Main Roads Minister Scott Emerson said.

"The left turn on red trial is a low-cost option that aims to reduce delays at intersections for vehicles turning left when stopped at red traffic lights."

But RACQ, the state's peak motorist body, citing results from international studies, said more crashes have been found to have resulted from these types of intersections under the "left turn red" traffic system.

"We also received advice from South Australia and NSW that their existing left turn on red sites are gradually being removed," RACQ safety policy manager Steve Spalding said. "The consequence of mistakes (at these intersections) would be severe as motorists are turning into oncoming traffic moving at speed."

Mr Emerson believed the trial run could stand a chance.

"Any change to the application of road rules requires a communication strategy to raise community awareness of the change to help reduce confusion," he said.

His opinion was seconded by Russell White, Australian Road Safety Foundation chief executive, who noted the move requires a huge amount of cultural change.

''Nationwide around half of the crashes we have ... occur at intersections,'' he told 612 ABC Radio on Thursday morning.

''It's important that we manage it properly and (if we) educate the general public properly I think it can probably be a benefit,'' he said.

But Mr Spalding remains worried the scheme would turn into a deadly fiasco.

"Certainly when you're turning through a red it goes against what is the notion of we always stop at a red light," he said.

"Once you start to dilute that or add confusion, there is always a risk that a motorist will make a mistake and get it wrong."

The Gold Coast City Council will shell out $200,000 for the undertaking. Locations of "left turn red" intersections will be decided and announced within weeks.

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