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Paris hopes removing traffic lights will fix congestion, improve safety

The City of Lights wants to replace some with yield signs and roundabouts.

Eiffel Tower, Pont des Invalides and Seine River bank in Paris at night seen from Pont Alexandre III.
Wieslawa Hoummada/Getty Images

It might sound counterproductive, but city officials in Paris hope that a reduction in the number of traffic lights will reduce accidents and improve traffic flow in the French capital.

Thus far, some 40 Parisian intersections have seen their lights removed, The Connexion reports, and the number should jump to 200 by the end of 2018.

Just looking at the traffic in this picture gives me anxiety.

Lionel Bonaventure/AFP/Getty Images

Instead of lights, drivers will deal with slower speeds, roundabouts and yield signs.

Approximately 14 percent of Parisian collisions take place at the city's 30,000 traffic light intersections. These accidents result in roughly 150 fatalities and 1,200 injuries per year, with both speed and red-light running viewed as major issues. Paris helped improve pedestrian safety in the past by installing central islands and raising parts of the road to sidewalk level.

This may seem like a radical move, but there's precedent. Several French cities have already made this move. Bordeaux, for example, started fiddling with its infrastructure after it discovered that 27 of its 28 most dangerous intersections had traffic lights installed.

At the least, it allows the driver to focus on things that aren't the color of the light, like pedestrian position or oncoming traffic. The Connexion notes that removing traffic lights will reduce the city's utility costs as well.