Thursday, February 21, 2013
Now Plano’s got a flashing yellow arrow
Wait, you're supposed to yield to oncoming traffic?!
The city of Plano is bringing a new way of controlling unprotected left turns to the city's signalized intersections.
Flashing yellow arrows will replace static green lights as the primary way of letting motorists know that they should yield to oncoming traffic when turning left at a signalized intersection.
The first new signal was installed last Thursday at the intersection of McDermott Road and Ohio Drive, and more will follow throughout the city, said Lloyd Neal, transportation engineering manager for the city of Plano.
"We've identified our prime locations where we have identified left-turn problems. They will be our first locations to roll this out at," he said. "The additional locations will be done as our normal upgrade activities take place, so if we're going out there to, say, replace the signal lamps ... we'll do the upgrade at that time. Then, every new location of a signal will have this feature also."
The decision to change the signalization is backed up by extensive studies by the Federal Highway Administration, which have demonstrated that flashing yellow arrows can reduce the number of accidents at intersections, Neal said.
"This is something that will be deployed throughout the Metroplex, so people should get accustomed to seeing it," Neal said, citing new requirements from the Texas Department of Transportation. "It's not just Plano. It's not just Frisco or a few other cities. All the cities, if they're following the Texas [Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices], will be required to implement this type of control strategy."
Other Collin County cities, including Frisco, Allen, and McKinney, have already adopted flashing yellow arrows at some intersections.
One of the first North Texas cities to adopt the signals was Carrollton, which began installing the arrow signals in June 2008. Today, the city has eight to 10 intersections with the arrows, and more are being installed through routine maintenance and new signal construction.
Tom Hammons, transportation manager for the city of Carrollton, said 11 left-turn accidents occurred at the first intersection to have flashing yellow arrows the year before it was converted. The intersection saw only six accidents the year the arrow signal was installed.
"It dropped our left-turn accidents in half," Hammons said. "From a safety perspective, I think it's an excellent way to handle the traffic signals."
A posting to the city's Facebook page explaining the flashing yellow arrow was met with mixed response, with three of the five comments to the item expressing concern that the signal would be too confusing. The post did, however, have nine "Likes."
Officer David Tilley of the Plano Police Department said he is optimistic motorists will catch on fast, adding the endorsement of the highway department's studies adds to the idea's credibility.
"It's not for the purpose of creating confusion," he said. "It's for the purpose of preventing crashes."
Plano has about 536 failure to yield traffic crashes involving unprotected left turns per year, or 11 percent of overall crashes, Neal said.
To view a traffic flow animation showing how the arrows work, visit www.plano.gov/flashingyellowarrow.
Pegasus News Content partner - Star Local News
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