Calls for parts of Portsmouth to be considered for an amber trial

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FLASHING amber lights could be used instead of traffic lights at some junctions during quiet periods if Portsmouth City Council gets the go-ahead.

A recommendation to approach the Department for Transport about trying out the system was yesterday approved by city council cabinet member for traffic and transport, Cllr Jason Fazackarley.

The operation of traffic signals is dictated by the department.

But it is hoped the council would be considered for any trial, which would mean motorists could decide when to stop and go when it is operation.

The calls are backed by the RAC Foundation’s Every Minute Counts report which urges the Department for Transport to test flashing amber lights at times of low traffic.

Another option is allowing traffic lights to rest on red instead of green when roads are quiet.

Barry Rawlings, who is in charge of the council’s network management team, said: ‘The first instance would be looking at a night time operation because that is when traffic is quietest. There are a number of local authorities who have tried switching their lights off and they have encountered problems. I haven’t advocated it because of safety implications. The flashing amber does make sense to me.

‘Turning them to flashing amber gives the warning that this is a signal-controlled junction, but because it is very quiet and there is no traffic about you can make your way through the junction, provided you do it safely and responsibly.’

Regional and local transport minister Norman Baker said: ‘It is for local authorities to decide how to manage their road network as they are most aware of the needs of their local communities. The Department is currently investigating new options for the use of traffic signals when traffic volumes are low.

‘However, in the interests of safety, it is important to ensure that any signalling technique provides a consistent and unambiguous message to all road users.’