mmm - thanks for the above comments everyone.
When I saw these systems in China (driving anarchy) I thought exactly the same as the comments above. (Would just promote worse driving) but I started to watch more carefully and have come to believe this is not the case. I was surprised. Not every set of lights had them, but those that did were more orderly I thought and the drivers were more patient. Again, I repeat, I was suprised. This was not what I expected.
As both a driver and rider here I certainly try to get clues as to what stage the lights are at as Darren suggests. Surely everyone does. But it's very rough and ready and not always easy.
Beach Rd on Saturday and Sunday mornings has particular problems with lots of riders, often in groups. They are travelling quickly, and people in the middle cannot stop unless people around them stop. Hand signals are essential, but for rapid braking you need both hands on the bars. Slight misunderstandings between riders have the potential for big problems. I think the vast majority of riders want to, and do, respect the lights, but caught up in one of these groups, ('cos it's great riding) it can all go wrong.
I think it would be great if a trial of count down lights could be conducted somewhere on Beach Road. Let's see what happens. Many people might be pleasantly surprised at the result.
Riding a 24 yr old 25" Carlton Super Course