For karl-heinz fullgraf, the change in traffic signals for left-turners was a good decision, which he had already welcomed much earlier. "I called for something like this ten years ago", says the bamberger driving instructor. "Oncoming traffic at 70 km/h can be very dangerous." After there had been many accidents with left-turners at the berliner ring in the recent past, the new regulation is in any case a safety gain.
This is also confirmed by an initial interim assessment: "according to the unanimous opinion of the police and the administration, the new traffic lights have had a very positive effect on traffic safety", says robert schmidt of the city’s traffic department. Ines schellmann, who is responsible for traffic at the bamberg city police station, has not had a single accident involving a left turn in the last six months at the starkenfeldstrabe/berliner ring intersection.
Only one complaint
After intensive discussions starting in november 2017, a separate green phase without oncoming traffic for left-turners was introduced on starkenfeldstrabe in april as a pilot project. Since then, the cars first stop at the stop line, a red-yellow-green sequence replaces the previous green arrow, which was followed by a flashing yellow signal.
In august such a change was also made for the intersection berliner ring/geisfelder strabe (still in the adjustment phase), in the autumn vacations the moosstrabe was added. "We see a very positive development overall and in the whole conversion phase there has only been one complaint so far", ines schellmann states.
Of course, changes at the traffic light circuits of the berliner ring are always a sensitive matter. At all intersections, there is a very high traffic volume of up to 55,000 vehicles per day, and important cross-connections are also connected to the ring. The basic phase for the heavier left-turning traffic from the berliner ring into the starkenfeldstrabe now lasts a maximum of 13 seconds. If no one turns left, the green phase is not switched either. According to robert schmidt, there is also a "somewhat increased traffic jam" in the opposite direction during peak traffic periods and with a correspondingly long grunt phase, which, however, is still within a contractual framework. In the transverse direction (starkenfeldstrabe), however, there is still "high traffic pressure with corresponding traffic jams".
The intersection of berliner ring and geisfelder strabe, on the other hand, is a needle’s eye in the northbound direction because the two lanes of traffic from munchner ring and berliner ring are merged here. In order to avoid traffic jams at peak times at the adjacent intersection, which is only 200 meters away, there are only very short slow phases for outbound traffic, which can be used by just two or three cars. The new signaling for left-turns also leads to occasional traffic jams here in the city center.
"But for us the motto is: safety before ease. Unfortunately, you can’t have everything", says schmidt. According to the traffic office, the new signaling at both geisfelderstrabe and starkenfeldstrabe has resulted in speed being taken out of the berliner ring at peak traffic times.
No major time losses
When robert schmidt presented the findings to the environment senate, the city council members all recognized the changed traffic light system as an improvement. However, the other parliamentary groups did not want to go as far as petra friedrich (GAL), who demanded that the administration provide an overview of all intersections for which a changeover would also be worthwhile. As mayor christian lange (CSU) explained, the corresponding inspections were carried out by the traffic office on a regular basis anyway. Where there is a need for action, this will also be communicated.
For driving instructor karl-heinz fullgraf, the change in traffic light control is "a safety gain in any case". What still makes life a little difficult for left-turners, however, are some signs on traffic islands. "They take away the view in some places", says fullgraf. As a rule, he can’t see any major traffic obstructions on the berliner ring, which is much worse in some other cities. What he would like to see from some drivers, however, is "that they drive correctly into the intersection to make it possible for the cars behind them to do the same". His driving instructor colleague udo bauer also thinks the new rules are good and "definitely safer".
Bauer does, however, recognize a "pull-along effect" among some road users: out of habit, some left-turners still drive off when the straight-ahead drivers are still in the green. In addition, no one should forget that at some intersections, such as podeldorfer strabe, the old signaling still applies. "Uniformity would not be bad. But one should drive concentrated in any case."
COMMENTARY by stefan fobel
It pays to wait
Who doesn’t know the situation: you’re already running out of time and then you’re stuck at the traffic lights for minutes because only three cars can get through at a time. Or less, because someone does not enter the intersection correctly.
But what are the few minutes of time lost against a measurable gain in safety?? Far too often we have had to report on bad accidents involving left-turners.
Police and administration have drawn the right conclusions on the berliner ring road. It is good that the starkenfeldstrabe is followed by other crossings.This may cost many motorists a bit of time. But if one of the main causes of accidents is thereby the tooth is pulled, the wait is worthwhile in any case.