By Elsa Maxey
Motorists, have you ever had to wait at a traffic light when turning left and it was clearly safe to go? It’s probably been both frustrating and seemed like a waste of time. But, now drivers in Sugar Land will be given more opportunities to remedy situations such as this one making the city the first in the region to install new traffic lights, more of them, with left flashing yellow arrows to handle this condition.
The flashing yellow arrow lights are at nine traffic intersections in the city, and once you know they affect motorists’ left turns, the light signals are not as confusing as one would think. But someone experiencing one for the first time might think the light is malfunctioning.
The city previously tested the flashing yellow arrow signals last year during a pilot project in the Sugar Land Business Park, and it reports that they were “successfully utilized” accounting for the installation of the additional ones. The tested intersections announced by the city included West Airport Boulevard at Gillingham Lane, Industrial Boulevard and Dairy Ashford Road; also at Jess Pirtle Boulevard and Gillingham Lane; and at Corporate Drive and Dairy Ashford Road.
Not unlike at the tested intersections, here is what to notice when approaching two roads — Eldridge and Burney, where the latest installations have occurred. Keep your eyes out for a solid red arrow, for both a solid yellow and flashing yellow arrow, and also for a solid green arrow. They all mean something.
According to the city of Sugar Land, when you approach one of those intersections, a solid red arrow is for a required stop for left turning drivers. Drivers must also stop at a solid yellow arrow when they intend to turn left, and only when they see a flashing yellow arrow will they be allowed to make that left turn. But first, a driver will be required to yield to oncoming traffic and pedestrians before turning left, somewhat like taking that permissible right on red when a motorist yields before making the turn. As for the solid green arrow, a driver will be permitted to turn left since oncoming traffic is at a stop.
City officials said that results with the new signals, which are already in various parts of the country, showed reduced accidents, wait times, and fuel usage by up to 10 percent. Research data also shows their potential impact on air quality with reduced mobile emissions by up to 22 percent, according to Sugar Land’s Assistant Director of Public Works David Worley.
Should we expect to see more of the yellow flashing light signals? “Based on their effectiveness along Eldridge,” city spokesperson Doug Adolph says “a policy will be developed that specifies a process for selection of future intersections throughout the city.”