Yellow traffic lights sending drivers mixed signals - KXXV-TV News Channel 25 - Central Texas News and Weather for Waco, Temple, Killeen |


Yellow traffic lights sending drivers mixed signals


Confusion over changing traffic signals to the yellow flashing arrow you see now is sending some drivers mixed signals.The Waco City Council discussed the change during a work session at Tuesday's council meeting.

Those traffic signals may be to blame for some accidents at the city's biggest intersections. Bosque Boulevard and Valley Mills Drive is one of the busiest intersections in Waco and it's also the site of the most crashes since the city installed the yellow flashing arrow signals.

The green arrow means you can make a protected left turn, but the flashing yellow also allows cars to turn if they yield to on-coming traffic. That reduces wait times and increases traffic flow. However, one city council woman says she's gotten several complaints about the signals.

Waco Graduate Engineer Katie Whatley says the flashing signals are more efficient.

"The flashing yellow arrows versus the green ball, on a technical side, we can do more with it. We can have a flashing yellow arrow when the through movement has a red and you can't do that with the green ball.  So it just allows more time for cars to potentially turn left, which reduces delay and increases capacity."

She says, they're actually safer than using the normal green light.

"If you see a flashing yellow arrow, you kind of take caution. You think about what you're going to do a little bit more. But if you see a green ball it can kind of be confusing or you might go out of habit thinking green means go. So I'm just going to make a left turn when it's unsafe to do so," says Whatley. 

The flashing yellow arrow signals are quickly becoming the standard in public transportation. There are already 29 of these lights throughout Waco. City engineers say overall they haven't had many problems with the signals.

"You're allowing the driver to take risks so there may be some accidents but overall they haven't seen substantial increase in accidents," says Whatley.

The council didn't make any decision about the lights Tuesday. They said they needed to study the Valley Mills and Bosque intersection more to find out the causes of those crashes.

Whatley says the lights may be just one factor to cause those six crashes. 

"Valley Mills is unique because you're cutting across four lanes, but at a wide angle, so it's a longer turn. It takes more time to clear the intersection," says Whatley. "If you're not used to making that big of a turn then you might make the wrong judgement and think you have enough time when really you don't."

But if the accidents continue the council could decide to change the lights at that intersection back to just a protected green arrow.

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