Saturday, August 18, 2012

What Happens in Vegas: WTF is With These "YIELD ON FLASHING YELLOW ARROW" Lights?

This post is a general observation and complaint about recent changes made in the Las Vegas valley. The traffic lights here used to be generally the same as the ones I grew up with in Ohio, except that most of the lights here are on cantilevered armatures, and in Ohio they were mostly strung on wires (which may have changed in the 18 years I've been gone). But the general concept was the same, red means stop, green means go, green arrow means you can turn and don't have to yield, and yellow means, "hit the gas, the light's turning red!"

The only thing about traffic that has ever confused me is the roundabout, which--I'm convinced--are usually installed as status symbols. They still flummox me, because I've had so little experience with them. But the pattern of traffic lights has always been clear, even with variations, like diagonal arrows, blinking lights, and the occasional red X. But apparently, a solid green in a left turn lane is confusing to people. If you've ever driven you should know that solid green anywhere means "you can go, if it's safe, and you have right-of-way. You yield to oncoming traffic and pedestrians if you're turning left. You yield to pedestrians if you're turning right. Pretty simple.

My animation of the real light that works at Pollock and Pebble.
The American public--not a particularly brilliant lot, the more of them you cram onto a road--must be having a problem with it, because a new trend is sweeping the nation: "Yield on flashing yellow arrow." I only know this, because they started cropping up here in town, and I looked it up. Oddly, though I started noticing them in this past week, I never saw them being installed. Worse, they don't work as advertised.

In exactly one intersection have I witnessed repeated cycles of the light as I suppose they are intended to go: solid green for straight-ahead traffic, solid green arrow for some left turns, and blinking yellow for g'head, turn, just be careful. This was a little unsettling when I noticed it on my daily walk. I was walking in the crosswalk on the walk signal, and the left turn arrow was blinking. It used to be that it would either be a solid red arrow, or a solid green. I'm concerned that the newness of these blinking yellows could cause some pedestrians to get flattened, and we have enough of that in Las Vegas as it is.

Unfortunately, I've encountered several other intersections with the new lights where they do not work as they should. One intersection is near my office, the crossing of Sunset and Valley View. Usually, I get in the southbound left turn lane to cross the freeway on the Sunset bridge. This light used to have a decent length green arrow, followed by an equal length solid green. This would let me get through the light on the first or second cycle. Now, we get a green arrow for the same amount of time, followed by a red arrow. No flashing yellow at all, not ever, even though the sign that mentions it is up there. The turn now takes 2 - 3 cycles, and I've only had to endure it for a week.

Image from the Leader-Telegram.
With the exception of the one intersection where I've seen it work, each time I've encountered this new setup, there has been worse traffic, rather than better. And if I just noticed these things--and there has been no fanfare I'm aware of--I'm sure that they're still unfamiliar to many. I'd like to know what brain-trust thought this up, and if the flashing yellows are on a slow roll-out or something. So far? I hate it.

UPDATE: I finally found an answer to the intersections that aren't working properly. The post is from April of this year, which is around the beginning of the time these lights started going in. I assure you that the ones on my commute are very new, with the Sunset one being for sure new last week. Apparently, they install these lights and a sign, and then turn them on. . .without the yellow flasher activated. Then, they come around later to adjust the timing on that dealie, or whatever. I hope it's soon, or I'm taking a different way home from now on!

1 comment:

  1. Going down Horizon Ridge, I have seen some and they haven't been a hassle.
    Timing of the lights however.....


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