Azaz: New traffic lights reduce accidents but increase congestion

Criticism targets the activation process of traffic lights in Azaz in northern Aleppo countryside - March 7, 2024 (Azaz Local Council)

Criticism targets the activation process of traffic lights in Azaz in northern Aleppo countryside - March 7, 2024 (Azaz Local Council)


Azaz – Dayan Junpaz

On March 3 this year, the local council in the city of Azaz in the northern countryside of Aleppo announced the activation of traffic lights in the city, with the aim of reducing congestion, regulating traffic, and creating safe passages for pedestrians.

These lights have reduced vehicular accidents but have doubled the congestion, especially on the northern and western ring roads of the city. They have also been criticized for being too close to each other and located in unsuitable places.

Enab Baladi surveyed the opinions of drivers in Azaz regarding the activation of the traffic light system, and they unanimously agreed that it is positive in reducing traffic accidents. However, the lights have increased congestion as they are close to each other, and drivers have complained about the long waiting times at these lights.

Mohamed Abdo, a truck driver in Azaz, spoke about his experience dealing with the traffic lights and said that he faced difficulty crossing the lights due to their unorganized timing.

He mentioned to Enab Baladi that the timing of the red lights is long, and the timing of the green lights is short, which leads to congestion, creates queues of cars, and makes the driver think about crossing the lights to avoid delaying movement.

The timing of the red light stopping cars is 1.6 minutes, while the green light lasts for 30 seconds.

Malfunction in distribution

Abdo pointed to what he considered a malfunction in the placement of the traffic lights, mentioning that in his professional life, he has never seen traffic lights placed in the middle of roundabouts, whether in Syrian provinces or in neighboring countries such as Turkey.

He believes this is an error resulting from a lack of expertise and misunderstanding of traffic laws.

According to Enab Baladi’s correspondent, there are 14 traffic lights near the Clock roundabout and one in the middle of it, with seven more on the ring road.

For example, ten meters before entering the roundabout, there is a traffic light, and another in the middle of the roundabout.

On his part, Ahmad Abu, a taxi driver in Azaz, told Enab Baladi that the lights are concentrated on main roads and are considered outside Azaz and do not resolve the congestion and accident crisis in the inner city streets.

Abu mentioned that local authorities took measures to address the congestion problem, but they appeared ineffective. He pointed out that children under the age of 18 are driving cars and called for strict measures to control the issue and prevent those without driving licenses from driving.

Improving traffic movement

A traffic police officer in Azaz (who preferred to remain unnamed as he is not authorized to speak) told Enab Baladi that traffic lights are currently focused on the main entrances of the city, given the high number of accidents and the noticeable increase in cars.

He added that the number of cars entering the city in the morning hours reached 140,000 vehicles daily, and mentioned that the organizational process for traffic movement has seen a clear improvement after the installation of traffic lights, which is reinforced by the presence of traffic police to guide residents and enforce compliance with the traffic signals.

Lack of compliance

The city of Azaz suffers from non-compliance with traffic regulations, as some drivers disregard the laws without regard for public safety, which is evident in repeated violations by some drivers through parking their vehicles on both sides of the roads, causing unnecessary congestion.

On March 9, a traffic policeman in Azaz was physically assaulted and beaten by a group affiliated with the Levant Front, part of the Third Corps of the Turkey-backed Syrian National Army, after he asked them to slow down their military vehicle at the traffic lights near the Clock roundabout.

Azaz, like other areas controlled by the opposition in northwest Syria, witnesses road accidents due to low compliance with traffic laws, weak traffic organization, an increasing population, and lack of control of motorcycles, in addition to the presence of dirt roads and poor preparation of some paved roads, especially those that were targeted by regime forces’ shelling.


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