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LostInParadise's avatar

Have you ever seen a traffic light that works like this?

Asked by LostInParadise (25840points) April 7th, 2010

There is a traffic light near my home that goes through the following sequence when turning from red to green:
1. Green light and green left arrow go on
2. Green left arrow turns yellow and red light goes on
3. Left arrow turns off and red light stays on
4. Light turns green

Each of the steps lasts for a relatively short time, though the first step lasts a little longer than the others.

When I want to turn left, the effect of steps 2 and 3 is for me to stop so that when the light turns green I have to contend with traffic from the opposite direction. I wonder if this was set up to prevent a string of cars turning left from interfering with the cars going in the opposite direction.

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10 Answers

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

I can’t say I have. The traffic lights around here often have “left turn at any time with care” signs, so as long as it is safe you can turn.

whyigottajoin's avatar

Wow that just confused she shit out of me, no I haven’t! =P

row4food's avatar

Most of the lights in my area work exactly like this. At busier intersections it gives left turners the opportunity to turn left before everyone gets the green, then other traffic proceeds as normal. If you have to turn left after the arrow has gone away you do it when it is clear in the opposite direction.

Maybe I am confused but this sounds normal to me…

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

I just realised you live in a left-hand drive country. I still don’t know of any like this though. Both directions of traffic are usually allowed to turn right, but not go straight, and then both can go straight but not right. Alternatively some intersections allow one direction to go right and straight, then only straight and the other direction is allowed to move.

casheroo's avatar

Yep. Most all left hand lights are that way. I prefer it because I at least get an arrow, without that..I have to wait until traffic clears up which can take until the light turns red and then I’m stuck in the middle of an intersection.

john65pennington's avatar

Most traffic signal lights now are run by a mini computer chip, located nearby in a traffic signal box. its those big silver boxes you see on the ground near the instersection.

This light, according to your description, is out of sync. i hope you have notified your local police.

With this light in this operating mode, its leaving your town liable for any property damage or injuries sustained as a result of an accident, caused by the traffic light.

I have seen this before and the computer is the problem.

lilikoi's avatar

Yes a lot of lights are like that. Most likely there is a crosswalk parallel to the road you are on when you are confronted with the left arrow, and they don’t want you to run pedestrians over. Sometimes the arrow will go first in the sequence before the opposing traffic is allowed to go, but this is not always the case. From your description it sounds like there is a lag at the end instead – that the arrow stays on slightly longer than the main light so people turning left have a window to get through the light at the end before transverse traffic starts going.

tinyfaery's avatar

All the time. Please don’t come drive in L.A. ;)

You cannot turn left on green at many intersections. It’s for safety.

thriftymaid's avatar

There are a few traffic lights in a nearby small town that doesn’t have the yellow caution light in the middle—only green and red. I was always nervous when I drove there. It may have been changed now.

faye's avatar

Most of our city’s lights are like this.

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