The Instigator
Pro (for)
12 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
9 Points

Traffic lights either need to be replaced with humans, or manually operated.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 11/24/2008 Category: Miscellaneous
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 4,504 times Debate No: 6031
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (2)
Votes (3)




I say that traffic lights (you know, those annoying things with the green, yellow and red changing lights on street intersections) need to be replaced, either with the old fashion rent-a-cop in the middle of the street to intelligently direct traffic, or an office were people manually operate the lights. This means my esteemed opponent thinks that street lights need to be kept the way they are: annoying and inefficient, although they'll probably say otherwise.

By now, most of us should be able to drive, and if your too young now, don't start, rather invest in a bike, healthier and less expensive. But that's not what this debate is about is it? Its about those colorful posts we drivers have all probably learned to loathe. There are several reasons why they need changing which include: time efficiency, anger management (sub, speeding), saving gasoline, Job opportunities, and screaming.

These sources have uses throughout all my argument, I'll allow intelligence to do the association.

1 - Time Efficiency
Look back on your life, and just try to think about all of the time you've ever spent sitting in your car, doing nothing, while having to subject yourself to the rule of those three light bulbs. Supposedly, according to an urban myth I heard one time, about 2-3 years of our life's are spent there. This is not a scientific fact, and should not be used as one. But can you imagine that all time? Wasted by a traffic light? And how many of use have been late to some kind of appointment whether work, school, or otherwise, because we "hit all the bad lights". I say enough is enough. Changing the lighting system would drastically improve the average drivers time management. The programming of lights is inaccurate in many cases. There have been many times, and I know I'm not alone, where rows of cars are forced to sit idle and let nothing but wind pass (aka, no cross traffic). They can't use their common sence because its against the law, and with those new fangled picture taking cameras, its easier for the law to get us for running the lights even without the presence of a cop car. So they wait, burning gas (more in #3) and patience (more in #2), while at the same time wasting time because of semantics. With an actual brain at the helm, either on the road or office, road time could be drastically reduced because there would actually be someone thinking the same thoughts as you: "change dammit".

2 - Anger Management
While at the same time being a decent movie, this is an important point. I'm a fairly calm person, but I can't stand waiting at lights, especially when I know that if those lights had a brain, I could still be moving. This causes anger, or in this case road rage, which increases the chances of both speeding and reckless driving, which are hazards to both oneself and everyone else you are sharing the road with. Not to mention that when you get to work (lets just say) you are angry, which decreases productivity and can get you in trouble in some occasions. You speed to make up the lost time from the light you were just forced to sit through, and possibly as a motivator get passed that next one. Problem is, speeding increases the chances of getting into a wreck, not to mention you might be going too fast to safely slow down when that next light does turn red. A better traffic management system would decrease both of these hazards. A monitored intersection would allow better passage so that you are more likely to stream on through, and even if you had to stop, the wait time would be drastically decreased because someone would know exactly when it would be a good time to change and let yours or other lanes through, rather than a computer programmed for inaccurate estimates.

3-Saving gas
As mentioned before, when we get stopped at traffic lights, often uselessly, we are simply sitting there idle. With our engines on. This means our motors are running, meaning we are using fuel, meaning money is getting burned by light bulbs. Also, as mentioned before with speeding, jack rabbit starts (hitting the gas to get from 0 to 60 in whatever seconds) burn a lot of fuel, and especially considering that you would do this multiple times with as many lights, that's a lot of gas that's being uselessly burnt along side with the stuff already from sitting idle. My opponent will likely go with the "just slow down" response, in which case I pre-refute that that is easier said then done. Just like world peace, it should happen, and could happen, but won't. We have to think realistically. Thousands of people are unlikely to change their habits all at the same time, so we have to change it for them by developing a more accurate traffic system. By spending so much to fund this programs, we would save the consumer market billions, not to mention the positive effects on the environment by decreasing CO2 emissions.

4 - Creating Jobs
This program would create thousands of jobs. It would be easy enough to do without a college education, and would massively increase the productivity of all companies that require employees that have to drive from home and work, aka, all of them. A win-win for everyone. My sources call for better programming, but I don't think that is good enough. A computer will never be able to make the quick decisions and logical choices a biological brain can, or at least not at this stage in the game. They are only programmed to, well, obey their programming, which when put within the context of real life is often inaccurate. They can't compensate for spontaneous changes like a person could, only obey a statistic. A human brain much better suited for this simple job, and as you can see from the reasons above, would benefit us all.

5 - Screaming
I scream a lot when I have to sit in traffic, and it hurts my voice. None of us want that. (Not an actual issue)

So, a quick summary of this all is that an better trafficking system, either with intersection cops or an office were a physical person manually changes the lights, would save time, money, and manners for the average driver. Side effects include decreased road rage, less speeding, reduced CO2 emissions, and increased cash money. There is no downside, and I very much look forward to my opponent trying to find one. And before you post some smarmy comment, I challenge you to first accept the debate and put your logic were your mouth is. Bring it!!


I would like to thank my learn-ed opponent for choosing this topic to argue. I am always ready to discuss the vexed issue of traffic congestion so I am very pleased he posted this debate. Now, I expect my opponent thinks he's onto to a sure-fire winner with this one, after all, we all hate waiting at the lights don't we?. "This'll be an easy win," he's probably thinking: "a traffic light on red is about as popular as a ginger son-in-law. I can't lose, Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha. Ha-ha-ha-ha. Ha."

Well, not so fast, Sonny-Jim, that's what I say. I've got some pretty convincing arguments against your proposal and here they are:

1 – Time efficiency.

My opponent noted that traffic lights have no "common sense" and suggested having "an actual brain at the helm" to control the traffic instead. In that case, why suggest a traffic cop as an alternative to a set of lights? This would be patent madness. The lobby of your average police recruitment centre looks like Charles Darwin's waiting room. Everybody knows that candidates with even with the meanest of intellects, the merest modicum of a suspicion of a scintilla of brains, are not allowed to become police officers. And traffic cops are the most retarded of them all.

Just look at that frothing nutjob directing the traffic on the video clip! And look at the pictures of what happens when they try and negotiate road junctions themselves:

On the other hand, traffic lights are controlled by computers which are infallible and are becoming ever more sophisticated. Some traffic control systems are now even use artificial intelligence and virtual common sense to optimise the flow of traffic at junctions.

2 – Anger Management.

Of course, sitting at a red light is frustrating. But remember, when it turns green, it will be someone else's turn to wait. No doubt the sight of some sucker is sitting in his car, fuming with rage and swearing at the red light because his boss threatened to fire him the next time he's late would cheer you up. You might even take the opportunity to give him the finger as you drive by. Why not?

And let's not forget the alternative is a traffic cop. Now everybody knows that most police officers are corrupt. That means that they will wave through toffs, snobs and other particularly posh people that have bunged the Department a few quid in exchange for "special dispensation for priority road-users". How angry would that make you? You have been waiting at the junction for ages when, at the beckoning of the bent traffic cop on duty, The Rt. Hon. Lady Muck wafts by in her gold-plated, diamond-encrusted Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead Coup� on her way to drop darling little Montmorency off at the Royal Academy of Scholastic Achievement for the Sons and Daughters of Over-Privileged Posh Folk. That's right, you are late for work because The Filth made you give way to an aristocrat on the school run.

3 – Saving Gas.

Most traffic lights are controlled in sequence. That means, if you catch one on red, you'll catch them all on red and if you catch one on green, you'll catch them all on green. The trick is to drive at a steady pace if they are on green and (contrary to what my opponent predicted I would say) to give it some welly if they are on red in order to catch the next set before they turn against you. But even if the traffic conditions prevent you from doing this, many modern cars are now fitted with automatic start / stop systems that cut the engine vehicle the vehicle is stationary.

4 – Creating Jobs.

Even though my opponent conceded that all traffic cops are as thick as mince, he seems to suggest that they are still more intelligent and quick-witted than a computer. If that's the case, why do military jets like the Eurofighter use fly-by-wire control systems? The fact is that a computer reacts quicker and makes better-informed decisions than a human.

If you really want to create jobs, why not build an efficient and affordable public transport system that will tempt people out of their cars?

5 – Screaming.

After spending the entire journey to work shouting and screaming, pour yourself a very large glass of Baileys Irish Whiskey Cream. This will not only soothe your nerves and your throat but will put a lining on your stomach before you hit the pub at lunchtime.

So, unless my opponent comes back and promises that all traffic cops will look like this...

...I urge you to vote Con. Thank you.
Debate Round No. 1


Well blast my horn and call me Chirpy, you've found me out, all the way to the eleventh "ha". However, after reading your arguments, I think even my first paragraph would be enough to win this one (oh snap) but never the less, I suppose I'll still respond.

1 - Time efficiency

My opponent argues with a video of a silly-ish police officer directing traffic. After watching it you should notice two things: first, there were no crashes for all his flashy directing. Secondly, traffic went smoothly. His own video is works in my favor. He then shows us pictures were police cars from that happy land of Britain have crashed, sometimes ridiculously. If this is the case, then by his logic, we should remove ALL drivers for instances like these:

Moreover, this is after they've gone through driving tests to get licenses to drive. All humans can make driving errors, regardless of their job status. Their own ability to drive hardly has a say in how they would simply direct traffic. But if that is a criterion, lets watch a video of how well a computer drives itself shall we?

I think that speaks for itself. Brains beat chips hands down. Computers process numbers, they don't think about them. Until AI is invented, a thinking cops performance would greatly beat that of a traffic lights programming.

2 - Anger Management

Of course, someone will have to wait some of the time. However, a cop's ability to think would enable him to make intelligent decisions about when to allow lanes to move. If there's a crowded lane, he lets that go, and when its more straggling cars he lets the next group go while that lane fills again. A light may start to do this, but then they'll make some lanes idle while no one passes, and worst yet, will stop crowds of cars at a good speed to let one car go by when that same car could have easily gone through earlier when there was no one passing it. These stupid errors are wasting the consumer's time and money.
Also, I don't see any real threat to this corrupt cops statement. Yeah, there are some bad cops, but then again, there's also corrupt doctors, corrupt politicians, corrupt beekeepers. But for all of those there's even more good ones (well, politicians maybe not, but still). Even if this was viable, think of the complexity and expense. The cop would have to memorize the posh's car, the richer would have to know the cops shifts, and a way to communicate that he's waiting in line, and do this for every cop on his route (so for arguments sake, lets say 16). Each cops minimum salary is about $44000, so it take more than a tenny to make them let something like that slide, especially with the knowledge that if this nefarious scandal was found out, he'd be disbarred and prosecuted himself for taking brides. He wouldn't be willing to risk his neck for anything less than 100-200 quid (or as us Yanks say: bacon). So, this smug mug has to pay each $100 on his route, probably both ways, which is $22,400 for a week, or $1,164,800 a year. A bit pricey for getting though lights a bit early wouldn't you agree? No, I think inefficient lights that cost the driver time and money is a much greater problem then cops slipping in a few bucks on the side.

3 - Saving Gas

If lights went in sequence like you say then we wouldn't be having this discussion. The problem is that they very much do not do anything in sequence, or anything else slightly intelligent. Instead they make the driver stop and start continuously, and cause the driver to waste gas trying to get back up to speed to make up for lost time. And I don't know what financial oasis you live in where people can just buy new push button cars, but over here in Normalpeopleville, Rita Receptionist and Joe the Plumber (see what I did with that political reference?) have to live with their key start cars. More often than not they would waste more gas turning their cars off and on than by idling. Even if the turning on and off was more gas friendly, you try making every driver in the world do that, even in this 'greener' age. No, it'd be more economically and fuel friendly just to let the driver drive than have to sit there. A smart traffic cop would allow that, rather than a computer. It's a no brainer, literally.

4 - Creating Jobs

If a computers piloting ability is still in question, I'll let you watch that video one more time. No, go ahead I'll wait. Really, it's no trouble. Okay, you saw it? Good. Computers are only calculators with different shells. That plane probably had a complex 'rate of descent' algorithm that is more complex than I'd care to imagine. Nevertheless, it still crashed, badly. A thinking pilot wouldn't have let something like that happen. Likewise, a human cop will also think better than a traffic lights programming, because he can make up for changes, and use eyes and common sense to know when a lane should go and which ones should stop for a bit.

Also, I agree a public transport system would be great, but it would be costly, and impractical unless it ran off something besides oil. Also, it has nothing to do with the problem of traffic lights, so moving on.

5 - Screaming

Baileys? Please. Go with a tall glass of Captain Morgans spiced rum. Do you got a little captain in you?

So while I can't promise traffic cops to look like that, my opponent also can't promise to get computers that look like this
Therefore, we'll have to go on intelligence, in which case, brains will always beat chips. Traffic cops would be far more efficient than the current light system, saving you, yes you, no not Steve, don't look at Steve, what's he got to do with this? But you, Average Driver. Your money, time, and patience is all wasted at the light. Want change? Get Brains.

A final example of how aggravating computers can be to people. Just look at this childs reaction, and enjoy


Many thanks to my opponent for continuing this debate, if nothing else he deserves to be awarded points for his dogged persistence in pursuing what is clearly a lost cause!

Now, to revisit each point in turn:

1 – Time efficiency

My opponent has little faith in the performance of computers. They are highly sophisticated these days and even benefit from artificial intelligence, as detailed in my R1 source. Indeed, most major cities have advanced control centers that monitor the traffic flow, such as this one in Shanghai:

…and this one in New Jersey:

These systems are able to make millions of calculations every second, whereas your average traffic cop is usually too preoccupied with deciding what to have for lunch to care about the traffic, as this still from a Paris CCTV camera shows:

2 – Anger Management

So the police aren't on the fiddle then? So how come they drive cars like this then?
(No, Chief Inspector, I haven't been moonlighting as a pimp, honest)
(The only place you'll find 911 on this police car is on the nameplate)


3 – Saving gas

My opponent wrote "A smart traffic cop would allow that". I thought we had already established that there is no such thing as a smart traffic cop? ‘Nuff said?

4 – Creating Jobs

My opponent referred us to a video clip of a German boy in the kitchen having a tantrum. As it happens, I speak German and some of the things he shouted were very rude. If this was a German website, my opponent would have been kicked out by now. But anyway, it isn't and he's still here, but I don't see the relevance of that piece of footage.

At the end of the day, the value of a decent, integrated mass transit system is proved, as both my opponent and I know, living as we do in major world cities. Extending this form of public transport infrastructure to smaller cities would not only create jobs but ease congestion and (providing it was electrically powered as in New York and London) be beneficial to the environment.

5 – Screaming

My opponent has got it all wrong. Drinking rum in the morning will impair his performance at work, inhibit his ability to keep up with the lads during the lunchtime session down the pub, and ultimately compromise his drive home because he will be so full of booze that he will have to stop the car every five minutes to relieve himself. Baileys Irish Whisky Cream is not only very soothing on the throat but is also relatively low in alcohol, it's the ideal morning beverage for irate commuters.

In conclusion, traffic lights are frustrating, but that's life – get used to it. Most certainly, traffic cops can not be trusted – on any level.

Thank you.
Debate Round No. 2


Let us now finish this like small children

1 - Time Efficiency.

So if we actually look at your evidence, you support me! What a happy ending! Remember, my entire suggestion is "traffic lights must be replaced, either with the old fashion rent-a-cop in the middle of the street to intelligently direct traffic, or an office were people manually operate the lights". These arguments FOR these incredibly high tech control centers, even the Jersey one, support my thesis, so high five for counter productiveness. I give you one of these

So, to conclude this section of the last round, my esteemed opponent agrees with me, even if he didn't realize it at the time. No takey-backsies. He may still have a problem with cops, even though they'd still surpass traffic lights, but he does agree human monitoring of traffic is better. So we'll move on.

2 - Anger Management

What my opponent now shows are some shnazzy 'police' cars. However, when was the last time you got pulled over by a Porche or Ferrari? What these pictures are are nothing more than fancy cars with decals. If my opponent says overwise, then I bet he'd also agree the CEO of Red Bull drives this

Perhaps Jurassic Park exists?

Or that the founder of Oscar Meyer drives up in this puppy

Cars that say simply say 'police' mean about as much as that nice looking cop in my opponents first round, until they're pulling you over and writing the ticket. None of these vehicles means that the coppers are on the mickey, just that there are really nice cars (probably show models or a cop-fest thing) with police written on them. So, decals aside, humans controlling traffic would still be better than an inaccurate computer program.

3 - Saving Gas

I think you agreed that cops are dumb, I just said not much education would be needed to do hand signals. Oddly enough, these hand signals would still save the average drivers money on gas as it would allow for quicker and more sensible traffic directing. A light can't beat that deal.

4 - Creating Jobs

That video was for point 5. Sometimes if you double check these things you figure that out. And this mass transit thing has nothing to do with this debate, so the reader should disregard it. But my plan would create jobs, whether the switch were to traffic cops or to office workers, because someone would have to do it. Plus on both ends.

5 - Screaming
(cue watching first video)

and that's all I have to say about that.

So in conclusion, traffic lights are inefficient. They must be replaced with either traffic cops on the road, or people monitoring traffic via video and manually changing the lights. It would save you (the consumer) time, money, and patence. Instead of a program that does not always apply to the situation, there would be someone with a brain making choices that do work with what's going on.

Who's your uncle? Bobs your uncle.

And to finish this debate, I leave with this little bit of footage that has nothing to do with anything we've discussed


So, as our arguments draw to a close, I should like thank my opponent for a most enjoyable debate. Now, to address his point for one last time…

1 – Time Efficiency

Curses! My opponent has got me banged to rights on the small print there. Drat the man! However, the voters will note that the operatives in the control centres don't actually change each set of traffic lights manually, they just monitor the computers and the CCTV cameras. But I'm not going to be pedantic about that and no takey-backsies it is! Still, I may as well go on to negate his other arguments (and possibly take the opportunity to have a sly dig at the police en route).

2 - Anger Management

My opponent reckons that posh police cars are not the norm. Well, that's true, the Ferraris, Bentley's, Porkers and Lambos, etc. are usually reserved for senior officers, but the rank and file still get to drive quite tasty motors. The last time I got a tug from the filth I was stopped by a BMW 5-series, a Vauxhall Omega and a couple of souped-up Volvos (although the court was told that they wouldn't have captured me if they hadn't had a police helicopter to co-ordinate the chase, so nothing to be too ashamed of).

My opponent still thinks that the police using their "common sense" is a good thing. I disagree. On the aforementioned occasion, if had been clocked by a speed camera I would have got 3 points on my licence and a �60 fine. As it was, I was clocked by the polis who were sneakily hiding in front of a huge artic (semi) when I went past doing a ton thirty. The ensuing pursuit took us across three counties and committed massive police resources that could have been better employed catching real offenders like those drivers who just sit in the fast lane even though they aren't overtaking anything. The net result of this incident was that the police operation cost the taxpayers tens of thousands of pounds and it cost me my driving licence, so nobody was a winner.

3 – Saving Gas

Again, my opponent persists that traffic cops are sensible while I insist that computers make more sensible decisions. We'll just have to agree to differ on this one and leave the voters to decide.

4 – Creating Jobs

Well my point was that if all you want to do is create jobs for people with learning difficulties, directing traffic is not the only publicly funded role that the state could create for them. They could be employed as labourers building subways or as workmen constructing special lanes for busses and taxis on motorways (freeways) to ease traffic congestion – both projects that would save valuable fuel.

5 – Screaming

For some reason, the network I am using at here at work doesn't allow me to view embedded youtube clips, but I assume it was very amusing. I'll watch it later at home if I'm not too wasted when I get in from the pub. In the meantime, here's one of my own. Let this be a lesson to drivers who hog the overtaking lanes. Ha-ha-ha-ha!

Thank you.
Debate Round No. 3
2 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Posted by FalseReality 7 years ago
My bad, that info's from a previous debate I had against Yraelz, now it's right. Boshikawawa.
Posted by brian_eggleston 7 years ago
A debate about driving! My favourite subject. Hooray!

By the way, how old do you have to be to drive in New Jersey? And do they have child labour there? My opponent is spitting feathers because he has to stop at red lights when he drives to work - but he's only 14!
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