I wrote recently about the “smart” traffic lights recently installed at the Botley Road junction with the A34 to the west of Oxford (see Highways Agency spends £450,000 to screw up Botley Road traffic). The gist of that post was that, aside from the fact that the lights had made the traffic-flow worse rather than better, no-one should be spending money of that order on roadworks or, indeed, any money not absolutely necessary for road safety. This, like so much else, is not something highways people find it easy to understand.
I had reason to come past the allegedly “smart” lights three times last week in the middle of the night, when no other traffic was around. Each time, we approached lights at red and got right up to them before they were “smart” enough to recognise our presence. That meant we had to slow right down and then accelerate, which is exactly the opposite of the accepted advice on fuel economy and emissions.
I suppose that if you are a highways officer, everything seems smart to you. I suppose also that if you have just blown £450,000 on some unnecessary road works at a time when schools are having their budgets cut, you might grope around for a word like “smart” to justify the waste. On the evidence of my journeys, the new lights are no smarter than the people who installed them.