Report: The MMDA is ditching countdown timers in favor of an adaptive stoplight system

Here’s why
by Drei Laurel | Aug 1, 2022
PHOTO: Shutterstock

Metro Manila’s road system is getting a much-needed upgrade, according to the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA).

According to a report by The Philippine Star, the agency has bared plans to completely do away with stoplight countdown timers in favor of traffic signals that work based on an intersection’s traffic volume.

Adaptive stoplights vs. countdown timers

“With the detector, the presence of vehicles will be sensed. If there are no vehicles that pass through from three to five seconds, the time will be cut. The light will then change,” MMDA Traffic Engineering Center Traffic Signals Operations and Maintenance Group chief (yes, it’s a mouthful of a title) Francisco Pesino Jr. told The Philippine Star.

“Not all intersections are connected to the contact center, which is why some timers are still being used. But now that almost 50% to 60% of the signal lights are connected, some timers are already being removed because it will conflict with the detector operation,” he added.

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Study: Stoplight countdown timers lead to safe driving habits

Traffic light with a countdown timer

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According to the official, the MMDA is planning to completely phase out countdown timers at stoplights within the next two to three years, but “those still operational are still being used for now.”

“We really want to remove them all, but we are just afraid that the Commission on Audit (COA) will flag us because it is part of the MMDA’s project. We will be flagged if they see there are no timers installed,” Pesino said, adding that the current countdown timers were only installed in 2013.

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“When our previous system was destroyed, we installed the timers. Now that we are upgrading our systems, we will just go back to when we did not have a timer. If you look at other countries, they do not have timers.”

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Do you think this new adaptive traffic light system will help eliminate iffy no-contact apprehension citations, especially when there are studies showing that countdown timers lead to safe driving habits? Chime in.

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