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Long waits at traffic Lights irritate drivers

Date Posted: 2004-04-29

A major frustration for Okinawa drivers is sitting at an intersection with little traffic, waiting for the stop light to turn green.

“How long should we wait?” asks one impatient driver. “Oh my God. This red light never changes. Hey. I’m in a hurry. Please change it now” says another.

Even pedestrians are irrigated with waiting for lights to change, so they can be on their way.

Okinawa Prefectural Police are hearing the pleas, and are taking steps to change at least the perception of a light that never changes. Since mid-March, they’ve been installing special timing devices at critical intersections in the Naha area.

Only the busiest intersections are getting the new countdown clocks first. Kumoji Intersection, Mutsumi Intersection and the corner in front of San A Naha Main Place are already online with the new devices. The time clocks are hanging alongside the traffic lights, showing “how many seconds remain before the red light changes to green.”

The boards will show walkers the countdown too.

According to police, the traffic lights work by computers, and are adjusted to reflect rush hour traffic. In the mornings and evenings, the particularly busy times, traffic lights for pedestrians will change very slowly, and sometimes must wait a long time.

Police get lots of calls. “Please make it a short time to change the light. It’s too long, we can’t wait” is a typical appeal. And the calls are coming not only from pedestrians, but from drivers calling on their cell phones to complain about the traffic light systems.

“How come this traffic light never changes,” demanded on driver. Police agree there’s a problem, and note they must “make traffic systems more reformed” to make peoples frustrations go away. “If it will help people, we’ll set up the timing boards at other places. The question is: Does it help?”

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