HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) - Most every driver is used to the set up at an intersection with a designated left turn lane. Usually, there's a traffic light that features a green arrow, which transitions to a green ball. A sign directs drivers to turn left on green, yielding to oncoming traffic.
That system is about to be replaced. The first of the "new" traffic light configurations installed Tuesday morning on Huntsville's Clinton Avenue. It features a flashing yellow light for drivers wanting to turn left. "The Federal Highway Administration has tested across the U.S., and they've determined the flashing yellow is associated more with a cautionary movement," says Dennis Thompson, the Traffic Improvements Project Manager for Huntsville.
The new left-turn light set up starts out with a standard green arrow, which then transitions to a red arrow to stop traffic once oncoming drivers get their green light. The red arrow, then transitions to a yellow flashing arrow, which combined with a sign, indicates drivers may turn left, yielding to oncoming traffic.
The new set up has one important purpose. "To make left turns a little safer, make the driver be a little more cautious as he's making his left turn," says Dennis Thompson.
As we said, the first of the flashing yellow-arrow left turn lights installed on Clinton Avenue at the south bound ramp for Memorial Parkway. The city will proceed over the next few years to replace the left-turn-on green-traffic lights, with the new flashing yellow-arrow set up. Among the criteria they'll use for priority, is Huntsville Police accident data.
Alabama isn't the first state to use the new flashing-yellow-arrow lights, but Huntsville will be one of the first cities in the state to use them.