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[WATCH NOW] Traffic lights on Hwy. 280 feature new signals


SYLACAUGA, Ala. – Retail development and road construction on and around the upcoming Marble City Square shopping center on Hwy. 280 is ongoing. As if the construction alongside orange cones and traffic signs was not enough of a distraction, there may be a new hazard for those not up-to-date with new traffic signals that are popping up across the state of Alabama.

On Thursday morning, Sylacauga Police Department officers were directing traffic at the intersection of Walmart and Hwy. 280 due to a failure in the traffic lights system. Officers on the scene told no one knew exactly what was wrong with the newly-installed system, but the lights were not working in a correct rotation or in coordination with one another.

The new traffic lights at the Walmart and Hwy. 280 intersection were recently installed and put into use. The intersection of James Payton Blvd. and Hwy. 280 is also undergoing an update in traffic signals.

These traffic signals, however, feature a new signal many people in the area may not be familiar with. Beginning a few short years ago, traffic lights for those in a left-hand turning lane, began to feature four separate signals as opposed to three. The first signal at the bottom of the light is the traditional green arrow, meaning it is your turn to move forward without yielding to any other traffic. The top two signals remain the same, a yellow arrow which commands drivers to clear the intersection, and the red arrow commanding drivers to stop.

The discrepancy in the lights come from the second signal  from the bottom. Now, at these intersections, left turning lanes will feature a flashing yellow signal. This signal commands drivers to yield to oncoming traffic. Essentially, this signal is the updated version of “yield on green” when turning left.

Sylacauga Police Chief Kelley Johnson told he wants and needs all drivers to be updated and informed on the meaning behind the new signals, especially when the signal is located at one of the heaviest traveled and most accident prone intersections in the city limits. “The flashing yellow means proceed at your own risk,” Johnson explained. “When drivers see the flashing yellow arrow they need to look straight, look both ways and yield to all traffic.” Although drivers should not need to look left and right when the yellow arrow is flashing, Johnson said it is always a good idea to look in all directions when crossing any intersection.

Essentially, the flashing yellow arrow  signal is used where left turns are permitted after yielding to oncoming traffic. Drivers in affected intersections will see a solid green arrow, followed by a solid yellow arrow, then a solid red arrow to allow traffic to clear. The flashing yellow light will then signify left turns are permitted after yielding to oncoming traffic and pedestrians.

But why make a change to the traffic lights everyone is already accustomed to? According to Drive Safe Alabama, a branch of the Alabama Department of Transportation that advocates for driver safety throughout the state, there are three main reasons as to why the state made these changes.

  1. It’s Safer: Research shows drivers make fewer mistakes with the new signals than with traditional left-turn arrow signals.
  2. It’s More Efficient: The new signals provide engineers with more options to handle variable traffic volumes.
  3. It’s More Consistent: You’ll soon see the new signal in Alabama and throughout the United States.

Below is a tutorial video created by the Alabama Department of Transportation on how to react to a flashing yellow light.

Click here for more information on the new traffic signals.

Jeremy Law for | © 2017, City Media LLC. All Rights Reserved.


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