General Question

robmandu's avatar

Your opinion on changing conventions for non-protected left turn signals?

Asked by robmandu (21293points) May 19th, 2009

So, I’m seeing a new trend in a couple of the cities around here (Texas). They’ve switched their traffic light conventions so that a flashing, yellow arrow indicates a non-protected left turn.

What I mean is, you’re in the left turn lane. The light changes to from red to flashing, yellow arrow. At the same time, oncoming traffic has a green circle to proceed and you must yield to them before making your turn.

More commonly this scenario where you have a non-protected left turn is indicated with a green circle instead.

What do you think? Good idea? Scary inconsistency? Doesn’t matter b/c you don’t look at the lights anyway?

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11 Answers

cak's avatar

Are you seeing this at a lot of intersections? Heavy traffic and lighter traffic patterns, included?

I’m just outside of Charlotte, NC. People cannot drive here, they are scary. I would be very concerned if I saw that pattern at intersections around here; however, that could have something to do with how antiquated our traffic patterns are – they are seriously behind the times.

robmandu's avatar

It appears to be a recent change applied consistently across the entire municipality… on light and heavy traffic streets.

The thing is, I’m in suburbia. A single boulevard could run through several small towns. When you cross the city limit, you’ve got a different light pattern even though you’re still on the same street.

Harp's avatar

Seems like a dangerous convention to implement in a local or piecemeal fashion. The meaning isn’t intuitive enough for non-locals to reliably interpret correctly. I don’t object to the concept, but until the convention enters into the general driver’s lexicon of symbols, there’s too much room for confusion.

cak's avatar

@robmandu – That’s exactly what I experience. The difference between counties can become a nightmare of a traffic jam. A flashing light at an intersection in an area of one of these nightmare areas, I just see major problems – and accidents.

The trend, right now, is to start updating the roads – the major boulevard through the counties, by removing the lights and making everything entrance/exit ramps. A lot of Texas u-turns are going in, as well. So far, I haven’t seen the flashing yellows. I can’t see where it’s always the best alternative. Maybe late at night, a switch to that versus waiting for a turn arrow.

robmandu's avatar

My personal opinion:

Yellow = don’t enter the intersection
Arrow = protected turn
Flashing = WTF? Four way stop?

This new convention flies in the face of what’s established globally… and shows a complete lack of understanding of the basic principals that the rest of us have all internalized so deeply that we don’t even think about it.

Feel free to opine differently… just had to get that off my chest.

crisw's avatar

I hate them. We have a few cities here that use them. Because they are uncommon, many people don’t know their purpose- and thus, they are quite dangerous.

casheroo's avatar

Hmm, sounds sort of like what we have in my area.
You get a green left turn signal, so it’s safe to go, but it turns yellow to indicate you won’t have the green light anymore, then there is no light. It’s not red, since you can still go if there is no oncoming traffic, but no light indicates that the oncoming traffic has the right of way, so it sort of turns into a whoever makes it first sort of thing.
We just don’t have the yellow blinking light.

hungryhungryhortence's avatar

Just more confusion. Unless it’s posted prohibiting, a green light usually means unprotected left turn and u-turn allowed, why the need to spend money on new lights?

robmandu's avatar

@hungryhungryhortence, well, they’re actually using the existing lights… just in a different pattern. Still, there’s money in the re-jiggering of the switch, I s’pose.

Darwin's avatar

We live in Texas but I haven’t seen that anywhere in our area yet. In addition, my daughter just got her driver’s license and that isn’t in the current Driver’s Handbook.

Sounds like a dumb idea to me since all of us are trained otherwise.

YARNLADY's avatar

No, It doesn’t sound like a good idea. We have only a green arrow for a left turn, or take your chances. There is one intersection by my folks house that could sure use one like that, people just turn right in front of each other because they are used to “protected” left turns.

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