Smart traffic lights are set to be installed at all intersections in Qatar in a bid to tackle the increasing problem of congestion on the roads, a Traffic Department official has said.
The intelligent traffic system is already in place at 70 junctions across the country, including along Doha’s busy Corniche, when it was upgraded and roundabouts were replaced with signal controlled intersections in late 2013.
The smart lights use sensors that judge the volume of traffic on the roads at any given moment and alter the phasing of the red and green lights accordingly.
So in peak hours with heavy traffic, the green light could be on for longer to allow more cars to pass through an intersection at one time.
“The gap between the two green signals varies according to different traffic hours on a day or different days in a week,” Marfia is quoted as saying.
No timeline has been given for when the new lights are expected to be installed at all the junctions.
In addition to tackling congestion, the new system is also expected to help cut emissions, as it is designed to reduce the time vehicles are spent revving their engines or crawling forward, which happens when the lights blink yellow during busy traffic periods.
Qatar’s roads are increasingly feeling the pressure of the nation’s growing population. According to figures from the Ministry of Development and Planning Statistics, nearly 10,000 new vehicles were registered in June this year, the latest figures available.
More than half were private cars while a further quarter were for “private transport.”
Though it has been quiet on the roads this summer, traffic will pick up next month, as the start of the school year sees a spike in new expats moving here and the return of existing residents from their annual vacations.
To ease congestion and improve road safety, many of Qatar’s main routes have been reconstructed in recent years. Public works authority Ashghal has been overseeing projects to replace roundabouts with intersections, which are believed to better control vehicle flow and reduce accidents.
However, the introduction of the new system is not without its hiccups, as it can take time to fine-tune the phasing of the lights.
Motorists heading away from the Pearl-Qatar and Lagoona Mall, toward Katara in peak hours were particularly affected, until the backups cleared up a few days later.
Another system of intelligent traffic signals is also being deployed in Qatar to improve response rates by emergency vehicles.
The Emergency Vehicle Preemption System (EVPS) has already been fitted at more than 80 junctions in Doha, using sensors that override the normal signals to give emergency vehicles priority.
Ambulances and Civil Defense trucks have been fitted with the technology emit signals as they approach traffic lights.
Traffic lights fitted with special GPS/radio antenna devices receive the signals emitted by the emergency vehicles that they are approaching from up to 1km away, and give them a green light at intersections, while safely stopping traffic coming from other directions, Ashghal previously said.
So far, 80 signals have been fitted with the sensors, while 15 ambulances and 10 Civil Defense vehicles have the remote controller devices installed.
Currently in a testing phase, the system may be expanded to more emergency vehicles and some public transport vehicles may also be equipped with it if it proves to be successful.