Here are some comments from Road Warrior readers:

Why not better traffic lights?

About 6 years ago, I moved from a town of about half a million people to Santa Rosa, but I still travel around the country quite a bit for work. I’ve noticed that many cities only use protected left-turn lights when there is little to no visibility of oncoming traffic to make a safe left turn, theoretically, without assistance (due to blockage or curvature in the road). Sonoma County seems to use many more protected left-turn lights even at small intersections, subsequently restricting traffic flow.  Interestingly, most of these protected left-turn intersections aren’t large enough to have protected right turns or permitted “U” turns with traffic entering the same direction of traffic flow, as the driver in question turning left.  Clearly I’m failing to understand the cause or source of these types of protected left turns.

As a matter of fact, I have a little theory (wouldn’t you know) on how this negatively affects traffic patterns of drivers.  Since there are so many protected left-turn lights, drivers aren’t as used to yielding to oncoming traffic at solid green left-turn lights.  Last year at Farmers and Montgomery, I witnessed an accident at a good-sized intersection using (the somewhat rare, according to me) unprotected left-turn light (solid green, with a “Yield to oncoming traffic” sign posted next to the light).  The driver in front of me was turning from westbound Montgomery to southbound Farmers and thought he had the right of way, driving head on into an oncoming car heading eastbound on Montgomery.

In Sonoma County, we have lots traffic lights like the example below:


I’m in favor of more traffic lights (used more in larger cities) as seen in this example:


In other cities they have more lights like Example #2 (helping traffic throughput) as opposed to more lights like Example #1 (restricting throughput).  We’re restricting throughput in this county and increasing people’s likely hood to run a red light — because they’re penalized with additional wait time — if they miss the green arrow.


Safer intersections in Arizona

In Tucson and Phoenix, at intersections with traffic lights, the left-turn signals turn green to indicate a left turn is OK after the main traffic lights have turned red.  The through traffic is stopped at the red light while traffic wanting to turn left does so.

In Santa Rosa, the left-turn signals turn green first or turn on at the same time as straight through traffic lanes.

Often, what I see, is that more drivers run the red left-turn arrow driving through the intersection well after the green left-turn arrow changes. Whereas in Arizona, the green left -turn arrow is activated after the main traffic light turns red.  Traffic comes to a stop and the left-turn lane is free to turn left.

It is my opinion that Arizona has safer intersections.  Ana


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