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Adam Jolley

Drivers spend two days a year waiting at red lights

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As the number of traffic lights soars by almost a quarter since 2013, drivers can now spend a fifth of their daily journeys stuck 'seeing red'.

Angry driver

Of British motorists who drive on a daily basis, the average time spent waiting at red lights is eight minutes every day, according to new research by Confused.com.

Considering how frustrating it can feel to be stuck “seeing red”, this may not seem like much.

But it accounts for nearly a fifth of the average time spent in a car on a daily basis. 

And over a year it soon adds up, meaning the average Brit wastes 48 and a half hours – just over two days - a year stationary at traffic lights. 

More traffic lights

It also seems that exasperated drivers are having to contend with more sets of traffic lights than ever before. 

In fact, new data Confused.com obtained via a Freedom of Information request shows that British drivers face more than 33,800 traffic light systems on roads across the country – a 23% increase since 2013. 

The frustration of traffic lights can lead to many motorists taking action into their own hands. 

Nearly three in 10 people say they have driven through a red light and almost a third of these says they did so deliberately. 

Red traffic light

Drive angry

Two of the most common reasons for driving through a red light include motorists running late or claiming they didn’t see the light change colour.

However, a hot-headed fifth of motorists say they deliberately drove through a red light because they were angry at the light for turning red.

Worryingly, of those people who have deliberately driven through a red light, one in 15 say they have had an accident – with one in 20 saying they collided with a pedestrian. 

And if it’s not drivers themselves causing accidents, it’s other motorists running red lights that are causing havoc on our roads. 

One in six caught

Nearly one in five said that another car driving through a red light almost crashed into them. 

Unsurprisingly, it doesn’t end well for many drivers who run red lights. 

More than one in six said they have been caught jumping a red light – with nearly one in 10 saying a police officer pulled them over afterwards. 

More than one in 20 say they were caught out by a camera monitoring the red light they drove through.

Policeman watches traffic

‘Lights are against you’

Penalty points on their licence, a fine and even arrest for dangerous driving are some of the punishments motorists have faced because of their reckless behaviour.

Matt Lloyd, motoring expert at Confused.com, says: “Red lights are a frustration for many drivers on the road but they are a necessity to keep traffic moving in a timely and orderly fashion. 

“On some days it can seem these lights are against you and it can feel like the wait is longer than normal. 

“But the risk of driving through a red light can outweigh the benefits.

Void insurance

“Rushing through a red light can cause problems for drivers and pedestrians alike. And getting caught can cause problems for your insurance.”

Of those motorists who received penalty points for driving through a red light, nearly a fifth didn’t let their car insurance company know about their offence, the research shows.

“Should drivers be caught and issued with points for driving through a red light, or any driving misdemeanour, they need to inform their insurer,” adds Lloyd.

“If they don’t, their policy could be deemed void or they may have to back pay their policy.”

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9 comments

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John Avatar
John -
4 miles from Nottingham City Centre there’s a set of lights with 2 filters, at peak times one corner only allows 4 cars through although this can be just 3 or even 2 if the driver at the front is the advanced type who waits out of gear with his hand break on with 30 – 40 friendly understanding drivers waiting patiently behind him. Approaching he same corner from the opposite direction there are no filters meaning at peak times only 2 cars manage to turn right unless of course there’s a red light boy racer coming from the opposite direction then just 1 will manage it again with 30 – 40 sympathetic drivers patiently waiting behind them. I have been told that Nott’s County Council Traffic Management Department say the lights are purposely arranged this way to ensure a smooth flow of traffic. What on earth would we do without the Nott’s County Council Traffic Management Department? Just a thought! I wonder how much more than the Two days a year drivers using this junction spend waiting at red lights.

Community moderator Avatar Community moderator John -
Hi John,

Thanks for commenting!

Gosh that really does sound like a nightmare! We have something similar here in Cardiff, a big main road that at peak time stops traffic from both directions to let a side street out - nothing wrong with that, but the lights are red for the main road for a very long time, and usually there's no cars waiting at the side road - so completely pointless! Wouldn't it be so much easier if they had sensors so the roads with the priority were the busy ones?

Thanks,
Georgina

Keith Avatar
Keith -
Traffic lights!! Sainsbury's hamburger near Chester was a roundabout and peak hour traffic kept moving and short queues.....now we have tailbacks past Sainsbury's mini roundabout with traffic lights???? Also why don't they make traffic lights flash on off peak so one is not sitting at a red light when there are no cars around?

Robert Avatar
Robert -
What an overly simplistic analysis. If there were no traffic lights the journey times would increase dramatically and would be hours daily not 8 minutes.Try getting onto a busy highway from a side street where there are no traffic lights. You'd be sitting there for ages.

Community moderator Avatar Community moderator Robert -
Hi Robert,

Thanks for your comments.

While traffic lights certainly serve a purpose, some recent studies have shown the benefit of roundabouts for regulating traffic - do you think they could be a better solution depending on the weight of traffic on the road?

Thanks,
Georgina

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