TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- A trial carried out in northern Taiwan's Taoyuan City to remove the use of left turn boxes by scooters and instead allow them to directly make left turns has resulted in fewer accidents.
Taoyuan City Councilor Wang Hao-yu (王浩宇) stated on a Facebook post yesterday (April 2) that since 2016 the accident rate for scooters has dropped significantly in the 17 intersections where a ban on direct left turns by scooter has been lifted.
Wang said that the proposal to lift the ban on left turns by scooters has encountered a number of obstacles and criticism. However, he said that based on statistical data, since the trial run removing the ban in 2016 started, the incidence of scooter accidents in the 17 test intersections in Taoyuan have been reduced by 30 to 40 percent.
In addition, Wang stressed that in Japan, where the two stage left turn system for scooters had been invented, the system has already been discontinued, and he suggests phasing it out in Taoyuan on a trial basis and eventually abolishing it altogether.
ETtoday reports that based on the current layout of Taiwan's roads, the left turn box has not only failed to achieve the original intention of improving traffic flow, but it has also created a new hot spot where accidents are more likely to occur, it then list reasons why the system is flawed:
Unpredictable vehicle dynamics
Scooters turning right often come close to or overlap with scooters waiting to complete their left turn, and if the light signals are not clear collisions can occur.
Poor diversion effect
At peak hours, the numbers of scooters waiting to turn left will overflow the left turn box and spill into other lanes. This leads to poor traffic flow, not only increasing traffic congestion, but also endangering pedestrians trying to walk on the zebra crossing.
Another problem is the temptation to simply drive forward into the box to get a head start on the competition when the light turns green. Those who abuse the system in this way will leave less room for those actually wishing to turn left, leading to more congestion and essentially defeating the purpose of its existence.
Starting in Taipei in 1985, and eventually spreading across the country, scooters or motorcycles under 250 cc have been banned from making direct left turns on roads with two or more lanes. Instead, scooter drivers must first drive ahead to the intersection to their right and make a "fishhook" maneuver in which they essentially drive in front of the zebra crossing and then make a hard turn to the left into a special box designated for those wanting to make a left turn. Then they must wait for the green right before going straight into their originally desired direction.
The procedure essentially breaks up a left turn into two stages and two different traffic lights. The idea is that because scooters are supposed to drive on the far right of the road, making a direct left turn across multiple lanes was considered dangerous, thus the idea was proposed to break it into stages.
Unfortunately, for pedestrians, scooter drivers often drive on the zebra crossing when making the fishhook turn and also they make the turn very suddenly, nearly running into pedestrians, cyclists or even other vehicles going straight through the intersection.
Vlogger PS118 demonstrates how a left turn boxes are used in Taiwan: