Brussels Region is adopting smart traffic light technology in an attempt to address speeding, reports RTBF. Brussels Mobility has announced the installation of around 50 smart traffic lights so far, in locations around the city.
The lights, which cost between €80-90k each, work in conjunction with nearby radar to detect driver behaviour and turn red if a vehicle is caught travelling above the speed limit.
Two smart lights have been in use in Woluwe-Saint-Lambert since 2019. Watermael-Boitsfort is another location where the system is now set up in front of La Futaie school.
Woluwe-Saint-Lambert’s Mayor, Oliver Maingain, of DeFI is convinced of the smart lights’ merits.
Since we installed these lights, there have been no more serious accidents at this intersection. The number of offences recorded by the police has also dropped significantly: a few fines for speeding per month.Oliver Maingain, Woluwe-Saint-Lambert’s Mayor
However, reactions are mixed. Locals in Boitsfort have complained of squealing tyres, as vehicles brake suddenly to comply with red lights. This creates a hazard for other cars on the road behind them. Forcing a vehicle to brake suddenly goes against the Highway Code of countries like the UK, where drivers are told to avoid braking suddenly unless it is safe to do so.
The lights could also be argued to add to driver stress in the capital. One long-term Brussels resident who wanted to remain anonymous told me: “Brussels is already a nightmare for all road users. Signage is often inconsistent. Pedestrians often use their right of way to step out into the road without looking or taking responsibility for keeping everyone safe. Cars share roads with trams. Cycle paths have been painted on roads that are too narrow for them with no physical infrastructure to separate cars from bikes, and outdated rules such as priority to the right mean vehicles fly out from tiny side junctions onto main routes, forcing others to take avoiding action. It’s awful, and not just for drivers. Pedestrians and cyclists are at risk too.”
Belgium has a poor road safety record compared to other advanced European economies, with more than double the average European death toll per 1000 km driven according to a 2019 Vias report.