Motorists have noticed new traffic signals and a flashing yellow arrow turn signal at major Elkin intersections. The inclusion of new signals were installed to help reduce left-turn accidents.
The North Carolina Department of Transportation recently installed new left-turn traffic signals at the intersection of U.S. 21/Bridge Street and N.C. 268/CC Camp Road in Elkin. Officials said the new flashing yellow arrow signals are designed to reduce accidents at signalized intersections and to improve driver understanding of left-turn traffic signal displays.
NCDOT did not release accident data for the intersections.
Town officials were involved in the improvement. In prior meetings of the Elkin Board of Commissioners, officials routinely brought up concerns about accidents at certain intersections.
“I met with DOT officials several months ago to discuss the accidents, near-hits, near-misses at the 268 and Bridge Street intersection. They mentioned their willingness to move forward with said lighting changes which took place within the past month. I don’t have the statistics but do believe there is a sense of the intersection being more safe than before,” said Lloyd Payne Jr., town manager for Elkin.
According to Payne, time will tell if the signal improvement will be effective.
According to a news release by DOT, the new traffic signals vary from the traditional green arrow and green circular displays, which indicate protected and permitted left turns. The new left-turn design has a flashing yellow arrow between the solid green and solid yellow arrows on the signal. When the flashing yellow arrow is displayed, left turns are permitted, but drivers must yield to oncoming traffic and pedestrians.
The release also said that since 2005, the NCDOT has installed hundreds of these left-turn signals with flashing yellow arrows. This design was first installed in 2005 at the employee/visitor entrance to Wake Medical Center in Raleigh as part of a national study sponsored by the Federal Highway Administration. Studies at sites with the flashing yellow left-turn signals have shown a 37-percent decrease in accidents involving left turns.
Anthony Gonzalez may be reached at 336-835-1513 or on Twitter @newsgonz.