Q It seems Ashland, Oregon, has a great Shakespeare Festival and also a great idea on saving gas at left-turn signals. In San Jose the left-turn green arrow turns to red and all left turns stop even though often no one or very few may be going the opposite direction. Wasted gas and time. But in Ashland the green left-turn arrow turns to a blinking yellow arrow, allowing cars to continue to turn left when it is safe. Seems to work.

Phil Sumner

San Jose

A In Ashland and in Redmond, Oregon.

Q I saw something in Redmond I wish California did. The left-turn arrow changes from green to blinking yellow, which means if it's safe you can turn left even though oncoming traffic has a green light. Any chance California will do something like this?

Scott Wheeler

Pleasant Hill

A Maybe. The flashing yellow arrow is being tested in Pleasanton and Santa Rosa and a few other California cities. A Federal Highway Administration study found that the flashing arrows help reduce left-turn crashes by 35 percent. Experts believe drivers who see a yellow light rather than a round green light approach turns more cautiously.


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But other studies revealed that the flashing yellow could increase the danger for pedestrians and bicyclists.

Dennis-the-Santa-Clara-Traffic-Man summed up the feeling of a half-dozen Bay Area officials:

"Flashing yellow left turns are still new in California and will take some time for drivers to learn and adjust to this type of operation. They can potentially reduce delays and help intersections operate better as motorists can look for gaps in oncoming traffic and make the left turn during the flashing yellow arrow period instead of waiting for the green arrow.

"The downside is that it does leave some judgment to the driver as when they feel it is safe for them to attempt the left turn as opposed to the traffic signal creating a gap by showing red to oncoming traffic. We will probably start looking at the possibility of implementing this at select locations once this becomes more prevalent, drivers have learned universally how the new operation works and there is more local or regional installation showing pros and cons."

Q While in British Columbia, I found that they use flashing yellow lights as part of the light system before an intersection. These lights are about half a block from the intersection and change from off to flashing when the light at the intersection is about to go from green to red. The position and timing is such that if you see the flashing yellow there is no possible way for you to make it through the intersection before the red comes on. This flashing yellow gives you a solid warning to reduce your speed well before the intersection. It is a very useful and simple way to avoid accidents, and we should adopt it.

Rich Simone

Sunnyvale

A Caltrans has some of these on Monterey Road, and they are usually installed on rural roads where there are few signals or the distance between signals is several miles. There are no plans to use them in urban locations in the Bay Area.

Look for Gary Richards at Facebook.com/mr.roadshow or contact him at mrroadshow@mercurynews.com or 408-920-5335.