Traffic lights in Ukraine

To provide the fast and safety traffic in the modern cities the whole series of actions of organizational character, in particular, implementation of technical means on roads - signs, marking, road protections and the directing devices, and, of course – traffic lights is required. The experts call them as one of the main safety installations for the road traffic.

The traffic light is an optical signaling device designed for traffic control of people, bicycles, cars and other road users.


The first traffic light was installed in 1868 in London near the British House of Parliament. Its inventor is Mr. J. P. Knight who was the specialist in railway semaphores. The traffic light was manually operated and had two semaphore arms: horizontally raised up arms meant a signal “STOP”, and put down at an angle in 45° - carefully driving. In a night-time the rotating gas lamp was used which gave red and green signals. The traffic light was used for crosswalk easing for pedestrians, and its signals were used for vehicles - while pedestrians go, cars have to stand.

But, despite all advantages of this invention in those times, its inventor had a need for technical improvement of his pet project - in a year the gas lamp of the traffic light exploded, having wounded the police officer who was operating the traffic light.

And 40 years later Earnest Sirrine of Chicago developed and patented the first automatic system of traffic lights operated without human intervention. Such traffic lights used non illuminated words “Stop” and “Proceed”. Since then automatic traffic lights were always improved.

Lester Wire of Salt Lake City (USA) invented, but unpatented, an electric traffic light in 1912 that used two round electric signals (red and green). In two years in Cleveland the American Traffic Signal Company installed four electric traffic lights of a design of James Hoge on the corner of East 105th Street and Euclid Avenue. They had a red and green signal and, switching, emitted an acoustic signal. The system was operated by the police officer sitting in the glass box at the intersection. Traffic lights set the traffic regulations similar acting now in the USA: a turn to the right carried out in the absence of hindrances at any time, and turn to the left - on a green signal round the center of the intersection. In 1920 there were already three-colored traffic lights with a yellow signal. They were installed in Detroit and New York. In Europe such traffic lights were for the first time installed in 1922 in Paris and in Hamburg, and later this invention was offered in England - in 1927 in Wolverhampton city. The first traffic light in the territory of the ex-USSR was installed in 1930 in Leningrad on crossing of nowadays Nevsky and Liteyny Avenues. In a year the traffic light was offered in Moscow. And in Ukraine the first traffic light was offered much later than in Russia – only in 1936. Kharkiv, at that time the capital of Ukraine, became the first city where it was installed.

Today the traffic light is the most ordinary device for traffic regulation. They are used at intersections, road junctions, crosswalks, railway crossings and in many other cases. And now this object for vehicular traffic control cardinally differs from its predecessors. It is completely automatic, programmed device. Considering the fact that on the road it solves very important safety issues of road user, serious requirements are specified to it.

National “traffic light” standards

In Ukraine the general technical requirements, regulations on the use and safety requirements to the modern traffic lights are regulated by the standard of Ukraine DSTU 4092-2002 “Road-traffic safety. Traffic lights” valid since January 01, 2003.

This document extends to the modern traffic lights intended for vehicles and pedestrians control (road users) on highways, streets and railway crossings and defines the main technical requirements to them.

As experts of the market comment, this document was made according to requirements of the Vienna convention of 1968, and the requirements established in it are highly competitive with world norms. But according to Sergey Shulgin, the deputy director for sales and marketing of the LLC “ATILOS”, in in some instances in some instances they remain short of technical development of world traffic light equipment. “The most modern traffic lights with the integrated time counting in yellow section weren't received in the Ukrainian standard of due recognition yet. There are also other differences in the Ukrainian standard from the European. But by no means it has no impact on efficiency of their application”, - Sergey Shulgin notes.

Types of modern traffic lights

According to the above-mentioned normative document the modern traffic lights which are used in Ukraine are classified by several criteria:
functionality, application;
light source type;
size of the lens working space of the traffic light module signals.

Besides, to application traffic lights subdivide into groups:

  • transport (T) and
  • pedestrian (P)
  • special (reversal, tram, etc.)

According to the light source traffic lights divide on:

  • lamp;
  • halogen;
  • LED.

Also LED traffic light modules differ in a design:
matrix execution (when LEDs are established on full area of module signals lens)
design with the central light source consisting of 3-5 high-brightness diodes with usage of the Fresnel lens for ensuring parallelism of beams (the similar design is used in lamp traffic lights from 30th years of last century).

As more progressive today it is possible to consider the traffic lights made in matrix execution with usage of 5 mm LEDs. Power consumption of such traffic light doesn't exceed 12 W, the operating life exceeds 20 years, so-called “the phantom effect” is uncharacteristic of it intrinsic to lamp traffic lights with Fresnel lens. In addition to the aforesaid it is possible to add also that this modification allows using matrix traffic light modules in more expanded format.

According to the size of a working area of signals lens of the traffic light module:

  • 100 mm;
  • 200 mm;
  • 300 mm, etc.

According to the normative document DSTU 4092-2002 “Road-traffic safety. Traffic lights” in each group traffic lights are divided in types in accordance with a functional purpose and modification.

World “traffic light” tendencies – precedence of “smart”

Development of the Ukrainian market of technical means of traffic control, in particular, of traffic lights, considerably is guided by world tendencies. So, today one of the most important problems of modern technical means of traffic organization is increase of safety on roads. According to experts it is impossible without implementation of modern technologies and means of traffic regulation. Not an exception is a segment of traffic lights.

For example, in Ukraine, as well as around the world, now there is a gradual replacement of the traffic lights using electric incandescent lamps with the light-emitting diode lamps. Use of new LED traffic lights and LED light units for replacement of optical system in traffic lights with electric incandescent lamps allows significantly reducing energy consumption and operational costs of traffic light objects service and also considerably raising traffic safety.

It should be noted that modern traffic lights significantly “grew wise”. Since 2001 such “smart” devices already operate in the big cities of Great Britain, Japan, Italy, Germany and USA. How they work? The central control panel regulates the lightning period of green and red lamps. For example, in the peak traffic period the system by means of special sensors fixes a situation on the road and automatically increases time for green light. Synchronization of all traffic lights within the system allows automatically switching “a green wave” not to create artificial jams on intersections. Such traffic lights are LED-based that is if one light bulb blows in them the others will work. There are built-in computers and webcams in new traffic controllers. All information from these devices is automatically transferred not only to the central panel, but also to the traffic controller's room of the State Automobile Inspectorate. It makes an opportunity quickly to respond to non-standard or extreme situations. According to experts the system of “smart” traffic lights can increase travel speed around the city by 20% and approximately so can reduce number of road accident.

For this reason the systems of “smart” traffic lights actively implement now practically in all big cities of the different countries of the world. And in Ukraine such traffic lights are installed. For example, in Kiev such traffic lights were installed according to plans on streets near “Olimpiysky” stadium and other central streets, of course, in honor of Euro-2012 (according to officials there are 76 such traffic lights). Besides in the “City program of road traffic improvement and its safety for 2012-2014” in “candidates” for installation of electronic regulation system are planned some intersections on Frunze, Vyshgorodskaya, Degtyarevskaya streets and more than 25 places in bedroom communities. 150 “smart” traffic lights will be installed according to the program.

Ukrainian production development

About 20 companies, which manufacture and realize these products, work at the Ukrainian market of traffic lights now. Thus, according to experts, there are much more sellers of these devices, than directly internal producers.

The most “powerful” national producers are only four companies: - LLC “ATILOS” (Chernihiv), SPE “System + Service” (Kharkiv) (the enterprises produces LED traffic lights in matrix execution), LLC “Rostok-ELEKOM” (Kyiv) and LLC “SEA Electronics” (they manufacture LED traffic lights with central light source and Fresnel lens).

As experts note, it is more easily to import into Ukraine products, than to organize own production demanding first of all considerable financial investments.

“It should be noted that not all producers of traffic lights have a full cycle of own production. The LLC “ATILOS” and SPE “System + Service” are the enterprises which practically produce everything on own technical base (except for light-emitting diodes, they aren't made in Ukraine yet). And the LED traffic light modules with the central light source and Fresnel's lens are imported from abroad. Some producers import also cases of traffic lights, carrying out, in fact, only Complete Knock Down assembly of the traffic lights”, - Sergey Shulgin states.

Pavel Zhabitsky, the CEO of the LLC “Rostock-ELEKOM”, supports his colleague: “Considering the equipment price of production many firms use import cases and traffic light modules which are made on a qualitative basis. Generally these are Futurit – SWARCO (Austria), Garufo (England). There are enterprises which assemble traffic lights on the basis of Russian, as a rule, old-fashioned accessories to traffic lights”.

But in spite of a small amount of players of the “traffic light” market the competition in this segment of technical equipment of traffic control in Ukraine is today severe. “The competition is quite fierce. There are many judicial proceedings in recent years”, - Pavel Zhabitsky notes.

Such situation is a result of a small demand for this production in our country today. Though the old fund of traffic lights demands obligatory modernization, it is carried out very slowly and mainly only in the big cities of the country. Small demand for production forces the market players to fight rigidly for each order, even the small. And not always methods of competitive fight are honest.

Besides the financial problem of this market is a lot acute.

“The main problem which producers of traffic lights face now is a low level of financing by the state and local authorities of a process of re-equipment and modernization of technical equipment of the traffic control. But most of heads totally understand the importance of this question. After all the old lamp traffic lights not only demand considerable funds for operation, but also often are not up to performing their functions on the traffic regulation which considerably increased in recent years. As a result is a mass delay with payment for the shipped products by budgetary organizations, and all levels. There are times when payment isn't made in general, or is made not in full, or with delay for a year and more. All this puts the enterprises in difficult financial conditions, stops their development and stops the implementation of new technologies. And the most important it increases production cost in view of use by producers of the long-term credits, thereby reducing competitiveness of the goods released by domestic producers.

Improvement of financial discipline and revision of financing level are the main factors of the solution of the main problems of the Ukrainian producers”, - Sergey Shulgin comments.

One more problem of the market concerns the production moments. “Not all supplies of import materials and parts conform to domestic standards and differ in a high level of quality. But nevertheless some producers and some customers often close eyes to it encroaching thereby on rights of national producers. Inexpensive and not always qualitative production of east countries is a serious obstacle for the national producer for a long time”, - Sergey Shulgin tells.

But even facing serious problems experts of the market say: the domestic production of traffic lights has every chance of perspective development. However on condition that the Ukrainian officials will give to a problem of modernization of outdated fund of technical equipment of traffic control in our country not in words, but in practice more …

Valentina Skripchenko

Article in the magazine “Asphalt i Beton” No. 3 of 2012