Traffic Signals

Full traffic signals are traditional green-amber-red displays for all directions of approaching traffic. Full signals are usually installed when intersections have delays and back-ups under two-way or all-way stops, often due to too much traffic. Occasionally, the issue may be a poor collision history that could not be fixed by other methods.

Research has shown that the number of collisions may increase after the installation of a signal, especially if the signal is unwarranted or barely warranted.

Traffic signal issues & requests

For issues relating to traffic signal operation, contact Traffic Operations & Engineering Services by:

Traffic signal operation requests could include:

  • New traffic signals
  • Advance left turns
  • Pedestrian signals
  • Pedestrian walk times
  • Red light cameras

The City‘s decision to install a full traffic signal control at an intersection is based on the current Ontario warrant outlined in Ontario Traffic Manual Book 12 (OTM Book 12) published by the Province of Ontario. Under this warrant, a traffic control signal would be technically supported if one of the following five following reasons is fulfilled:

  1. Minimum vehicle volumes – sets minimum volume criteria on all approaches and on side street approaches. There are separate volume criteria for restricted flow (urban) and free flow (rural) conditions.
  2. Delay to cross street – sets minimum volume criteria to reflect conditions where traffic volumes on the main road are so heavy those road users on the minor road suffer excessive delays. There are separate volume criteria for restricted flow (urban) and free flow (rural) conditions.
  3. Collision experience – sets a minimum number of collisions “preventable” by traffic signal control over a three year period. Five or more collisions in each of the three preceding 12 month periods are used as reason.
  4. Combination justification – makes provisions for conditions where two or more of reasons 1, 2 or 3 are met 80% of the time.
  5. Pedestrian volume – sets minimum pedestrian volumes and delays at a location for the installation of a traffic control device. This warrant is applicable to an intersection or mid-block location.

When considering the installation of an intersection or mid-block pedestrian signal, the conditions required in all four sections must be achieved before a signal would be recommended.

  1. Distance to nearest protected crossing
    A minimum spacing between traffic control devices is required for pedestrian and driver safety. If two traffic signals or other devices are located in close proximity, there is a significant chance that the driver may look past the first device and take his cues from the farther location. This could result in a pedestrian being struck or rear end collision occurring.

    The minimum spacing prescribed by the Ontario Traffic Manual, the provincial standard applying to traffic signals, is 215 m. Two-way streets meet this standard.  Hamilton’s experience has shown that the 140 m standard works on one-way streets, where signals are set to prevent the problems that occur with spacing this close on two-way streets.
  2. Minimum pedestrian volume
    There are a minimum of 100 pedestrians crossing at the intersection or in the immediate vicinity, in a seven hour period on one day, and the pedestrians are not or cannot be provided with an alternate form of protection.
  3. Justification system
    Staff developed a justification system to determine when it is appropriate to install intersection pedestrian signals, and in what order funds should be used. The basis of the system is the volume of pedestrians and the length of time they have to wait to cross the street. Waiting time indicates how difficult it is to get across the street, and therefore, the true need for the signal. Additional factors that influence waiting time are the demographics of pedestrians. If there are a large number of seniors, there is a longer waiting time and a higher point rating. Independent of the waiting time, there is a higher score if there are large numbers of young, very old pedestrians or handicapped individuals crossing.
  4. Use of adult crossing guards at pedestrian signal locations
    If a pedestrian signal is installed in locations with a school crossing guard, the adult guard will no longer be required after signal installation and an introductory period.  The pedestrian signal provides 24-hour, 7 day a week protection for students. There is no need to retain two forms of traffic control at one location.

Pedestrian crosswalks consisting solely of pavement markings are not endorsed in the City.