The Japan News by The Yomiuri Shimbun
Semiconductor shortage delaying new traffic lights at intersections
The upgrading of tra c signals around the nation is being a ected by the shortage of semiconductors due to the spread of the novel coronavirus and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. ere are cases where the inability to procure equipment to control tra c signals has led to delays in replacing the lights in accident-prone areas, causing alarm among police and industry groups.
At the busy Kanagawa 2-chome intersection on National Highway Route 15 in Kanagawa Ward, Yokohama, there were four accidents causing death or injury between December last year and August this year. In the wake of this, the Kanagawa prefectural police decided to replace six of 10 tra c lights at the intersection with a new type of signal that can display arrows to turn right and le as well as to go straight. e accidents involved vehicles turning right colliding with motorcycles or cars coming straight on in the opposite lane.
But the new signal type is equipped with a high-performance controller that requires semiconductors.
As there are no prospects for replacement because of the semiconductor shortage, the police decided to move a high-performance control unit already in use at another intersection to the Kanagawa 2-chome intersection as a stopgap. e old-style controller will be used at the former intersection for the time being.
“We must prevent another accident from happening while we wait for semiconductors. It’s only a temporary measure,” a police o cial said.
In Kanagawa Prefecture, 250 control units were scheduled to be replaced last
scal year but 50 of the replacements did not proceed as planned. In some cases, the replacement was completed only this scal year, ve months behind schedule.
It is also unclear whether the planned replacement of 286 units by the end of this scal year will go smoothly.
e installation of about 70 control units in Gunma Prefecture was completed nearly six months behind schedule last scal year.
In Tochigi Prefecture, the scheduled
replacement of 28 tra c signals is said to have been postponed until this scal year.
In a February survey of 202 member companies by the Association of the Tra c Signal Construction Companies of Japan, 33 companies in Tokyo and 25 prefectures said they had experienced delays in the delivery of tra c signal equipment. e questions were about the impact of the shortage of semiconductors, and 70 companies responded.
“We don’t know how long the shortage will last, but we want to work with police to make sure that tra c safety is not a ected,” said Naoki Akiyama, director of the association.
An o cial of the National Police Agency said: “In some cases, road signs and markings have been installed because tra c lights are not available. We will consider giving advice to each police headquarters so that they can set up traf
c lights in a planned manner.” (Oct. 12)