Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Flashing Yellow Arrows Everywhere

Flashing Yellow Arrow

By now, Richardson drivers are becoming quite familiar with the flashing yellow arrow on traffic signals at intersections with a left turn lane (at least before today's rolling blackouts, which turned many intersections dark). Richardson has been slowly converting intersections to the new standard for over a year now.

After the jump, now it's Arlington's turn.

According to this story in Fort Worth Star-Telegram, the flashing yellow arrow is still unheard of in Arlington. That city plans a pilot program at selected intersections to introduce the concept to Arlington drivers. But the story says something that sounds inconsistent with what's already happening in Richardson.

"Before cities can made [sic] widespread use of the flashing yellow arrow, the device must be approved by the Texas Transportation Commission, which is expected to consider the measure this year, spokesman Texas Department of Transportation spokesman Val Lopez said."

Is the city of Richardson doing something without the approval of the Texas DOT? Surely not. Could the Richardson program still be only a "pilot?" It seems to me that there are too many intersections with the new configuration for that to be true. Maybe a reader can explain.

For more information than anyone probably cares to read on the subject of traffic lights for left turns, refer back to this story in The Wheel from 2009. You'll learn about the "yellow trap" and the "Dallas display" and the "bible" for traffic engineers. Use the new knowledge to impress dates. Thank me later.

Yellow isn't the only traffic light color making news. Red lights are in the news, too. The Dallas Morning News headline says it all: "Study finds Garland, other cities with red-light cameras had fewer fatal crashes." This should be a "d'oh, what else did you expect" kind of story, but resistance to enforcement of traffic laws runs deep enough for all sorts of contrary myths to circulate. It'll take something other than common sense and fact-based studies to dispel those myths.

Unfortunately, saying that the headline says it all was meant literally, as the rest of the News's story is hidden behind the News's paywall. The Washington Post also covers the study and freely offers their own story to readers here.

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