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Intelligent traffic lights point way to safer future

08 February 2010

DASHBOARD devices which tell motorists when they are speeding and "intelligent" traffic lights that give elderly people more time to cross the road are among a series of high-tech proposals to cut road accidents in Edinburgh.

An extension of 20mph zones to city centre shopping streets is also among the initiatives outlined in a new 20-year transport strategy unveiled by the city council today.

Council chiefs said that they have applied to the Scottish Government to take part in a new "intelligent speed adaptation" trial, in which motorists would be given dashboard devices that flash up the speed limit of the street they are driving on.

Controlled in a similar way to satellite navigation systems, the council-funded devices would be given free to motorists and sound a dashboard alert if they are breaking the speed limit.

The pilot – based on a trial currently taking place in London – could be expanded at a later stage to include devices that actually stop the driver from accelerating beyond the speed limit.

Marshall Poulton, the city council's head of transport, said: "The Scottish Government, as part of its new road safety framework, has asked local authorities if they are interested in volunteering in pilot projects and Edinburgh has indicated its interest.

"We have a good record from the last five or ten years in reducing accidents and casualties, but we cannot become complacent."

Mr Poulton said that technology could also be used to provide better route guidance and traffic management, as well as traffic lights which could sense the speed at which a pedestrian was crossing the road.

"We want things like traffic lights that give elderly people more time to cross the road," he said.

As well as road safety, the new transport blueprint details environmental improvements that will be delivered over the next 20 years.

Mr Poulton said he would also investigate "low-emission zones" – which prevent vehicles entering certain areas of the city unless they meet environmentally friendly standards – and report back to councillors with his recommendations.

By 2030, the council also aims to benefit from a cycle network, an extended tram network, high-speed rail and a Forth crossing.

Dave Anderson, director of city development at the city council, said: "The overall vision is that, by 2030, Edinburgh's transport system will be one of the most environmentally friendly, healthy and most accessible in northern Europe."

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