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Amber lights duration changed at 110 high speed intersections

Advanced technology allows more precise calculations

September 16, 2020

If you are driving around Winnipeg, you may notice a slight change. Our Traffic Signals Branch recently changed length of the amber lights at 110 signalized intersections on high speed routes.

They used to be a uniform 4.0 seconds, but using advanced technology at our Transportation Management Centre, the duration has been more precisely calculated based on the speed limit and slope of the roadway.

For a typical intersection on flat roadway with a 70 km/hr speed limit, the amber light increased from 4.0 seconds to 4.3 seconds. On roadways with 80 km/h speed limits, the duration increased to 4.7 seconds.

“Using cellular connectivity and the technology in our centralized Transportation Management Centre, we updated the amber light times during the week of August 31 to September 4, 2020,” said Michael Price, Traffic Signals Engineer.

Amber light timing only increased on high speed routes with 70 km/h or higher speed approaches.

“We used a combination of the technical research from national and international organizations, and engineering judgement applied appropriately with knowledge of local context, to calculate the traffic light duration values,” said Greg Blatz, Supervisor of Traffic Signal Timing, adding the Manitoba Highway Traffic Act does not specify the duration of traffic lights during the clearance interval.

Blatz said amber light durations on 50 km/hr and 60 km/hr roadways were deemed appropriate, and will remain consistent with the four second durations used previously.

“Our Traffic Signals Branch has undergone rapid transformation since the last time the Traffic Signal Timing Guideline was completely reviewed in 2014,” said Blatz. “Older electro-mechanical traffic signal controllers have been replaced by newer computer based controllers, and signalized intersections now have cellular connectivity that made it possible to install the updated amber timing changes rapidly.”

Any new signalized intersections will be installed based on the new guidelines.

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