Our Opinion: Counting on public safety

A countdown aids preparation and eliminates guesswork. Traffic signals that count down to when lights change to amber are becoming more conspicuous in Jefferson City.

The “ped heads” are designed to inform pedestrians how much time remains to safely cross the intersection, according to Matt Morasch, deputy director of community development.

The devices, however, also serve an additional function, alerting motorists how many seconds remain before a green light changes to amber. The added warning helps motorists heed the rule not to enter an intersection when the light is amber.

The rule is among the most frequently violated traffic laws. As a practical matter, every motorist has encountered the dilemma of whether to brake or speed up in reaction to an amber light. The decision to accelerate, at its worst, leads to running red lights and avoidable accidents at intersections.

Although the “ped heads” are targeted to assist pedestrian in highvolume areas, we believe they double as an effective tool to curb vehicle collisions at intersections.

Another public safety enhancement embraced by Jefferson City is the change to LED signal heads.

“Because the LED signal is a collection of smaller lights,” Morasch explained, “we don’t have a dead signal that could lead to an accident.”

Morasch said city employees monitor the signals and replace LED lights before the entire signal become non-functional.

These public safety improvements may not be grandiose, but they signal Jefferson City’s continuing effort to make our streets safer for both pedestrians and motorists.

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