blinking traffic lights

I drive through an intersection every day on the way home from work, and I’m almost always forced to stop at a red light, even when there are rarely any two cars going the other direction. When I first see it, it’s usually green, but as I get closer it turns yellow and then red, which means I’m stuck waiting for no good reason for it to turn green again.

The intersection is almost never busy on the way home, but occasionally, during the peak rush hour times, it can get a little bogged down. In those cases, I’m perfectly content to wait for the light to change. What I don’t understand is why they can’t leave the intersection alone for the most part by putting a blinking yellow traffic light in the higher traffic direction and a blinking red light on the second. This method was used quite frequently back east, but I rarely see it used in Utah. The benefit during low-traffic times is that if you’re on the yellow side, you get to zoom right through the intersection (with caution of course) and you don’t have to wait at all. If you’re on the red side, it’s treated like a stop sign, so you get to the intersection, come to a stop, make sure there aren’t any cars and you’re on your way again. This is especially appreciated when it’s 2am and you’re the only car on the road.

So, on the very slight chance that someone from UDOT is reading this, make a comment to let me know you’re listening, I’ve got more where that came from.


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  1. Another option, one that I’ve seen before, is to used traffic sensing lights. Utah doesn’t seem to use these sensors too often and drivers are stuck waiting for the timed lights to cycle. It is irritating.

    Comment by scott on January 6, 2005 @ 11:15 am
  2. I have my own beef with having to stop for no reason. I got a ticket out of it that cost me $132 I think.

    Comment by Cameron on January 6, 2005 @ 1:36 pm
  3. There’s a light like that at an intersection to get out of a football stadium parking lot nearby, which only has cars in it for rare sports events. It turns red all the time for almost 2 MINUTES when nobody is around for miles. I took the liberty to treat it as a stop sign the other day (when I wasn’t feeling too charitable toward Utah light systems), almost hoping a police would stop me so that I could tell him to get it fixed. In retrospect, not the greatest solution.

    Comment by Seth on January 6, 2005 @ 4:16 pm
  4. I believe the reason you don’t see it in Utah is because the drivers to the east of Utah are more cautious.

    I’ll duck now. But seriously, maybe it’s only Bountiful but I’ve had a few vacations in SLC area and rush hour leaving SLC for Bountiful is an exercise is observing psychotic kamikaze behavior including but not limited to using shoulders as their own traffic lane, cutting off drivers with mere inches to spare and reckless passing. In fact, the only time I saw people slow down a little and pay attention was all the rubber necking during accidents (of which there were many).

    And for the sake of disclosure, this midwest girl must say she is extremely cautious when driving out west because the mere thought of driving on a winding interstate with MountainsThisClose on either side is intimidating.

    Comment by Renee on January 6, 2005 @ 9:28 pm
  5. Although traffic sensors are nice when driving a car, they’re a royal pain when using a bicycle or other low-mass vehicle. I’d prefer the blinky yellow/red intersections to an eternal red light in those situations.

    Comment by Levi on January 7, 2005 @ 10:48 am
  6. It was trying to avoid a red light on a late-night return from work that I got my latest ticket, several years ago now (knock on wood). Trying to get through the yellow light, I accelerated right past the policeman, who got me for speeding, I think, nothing related to the light. Oh well. Live and learn, I guess …

    Comment by DavidH on January 7, 2005 @ 10:23 pm
  7. Maybe you meant northeast and not east, because we only use the blinky lights in Georgia when something is wrong with the light. People just don’t know how to use them here. That might be the reason why they don’t use them in Utah. Plus, it’s never a good idea to change the way a signal light works at an intersection unless there is very good cause. Changing the timing of a light frequently causes more wrecks than leaving it alone.

    Comment by Jan on January 10, 2005 @ 2:30 pm
  8. Jan: I did mean northeast. In Utah, I’ve seen the timing change quite often, even with this particular intersection. Plus, it’s new so people aren’t used to it yet.

    Comment by dan on January 11, 2005 @ 7:03 pm
  9. Hopefully someone in the web development department at UDOT will see your link to them and come check it out! :)

    Comment by Meredith on January 11, 2005 @ 10:13 pm
  10. Living in south Florida post-Wilma, traffic is just frustrating. If the intersection has a light, you’re lucky. Without a traffic light, it takes forever, leading to many already agitated people. I had a debate with someone as to what blinking yellow lights mean. He said it means to stop, whereas I disagree. I was looking online to see if the rules changed since Wilma, and found this post. Florida, particularly the southeast, is no longer the retirement spot. It is a fast-paced, growing, changing, unfriendly environment, and people just don’t know how to drive. Too many young people in a hurry with too many old people who hit their brakes if a car comes within ten feet of them. I’ve yet to be in accident/gotten a ticket yet (knock on wood) but it is a rarity for someone my age (nineteen) to not have been in at least three accidents.

    Comment by Starr on November 18, 2005 @ 6:44 pm

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