How about red flashing lefts, rather than yellow?

The out basket: Married couple Sherri and Patrick Burch each wrote me around the first of March, alarmed by the fatal accident in Silverdale at Kitsap Mall Boulevard and Randall Way shortly before, to which the flashing yellow left turn signals there may have contributed. They each had the same suggestion: Replace the flashing yellow lefts with flashing reds.

“Across the country, drivers know that a blinking red means stop, evaluate, then proceed,” Sherri said. “For so many people, a yellow light does not mean caution, it means gun it!

Her husband wrote, “If the arrow was blinking red, the driver would have to come to a complete stop before proceeding. This would avoid any confusion for anyone unfamiliar with this type of traffic signal. Red means stop first then proceed.  Changing from red to yellow will undoubtedly save crunched metal and future injuries.”

The out basket: Jeff Shea, Kitsap County traffic engineer, replied, “When the transportation industry was looking for a good signal indication for the permissive left turns, flashing red arrows and flashing red balls were considered.

“The flashing yellow was determined to be the preferred option for the permissive turn,” he said. “The flashing red arrow creates confusion in its own right. In my experience, when motorists see a flashing red light of any sort they assume every other motorist (at the intersection) is seeing a flashing red light and expect other motorists to stop.

“Perhaps the most common situation motorists see flashing red street signals is when the signals aren’t operating normally. The motorist assumes it indicates an all-way stop, and expects other traffic to stop as well. When flashing red arrows are used for permissive turns opposing traffic has a green signal and does not stop.

“For that reason I don’t combine flashing red signals on the main street with yellow or green signals on the side streets. If one direction is flashing red, all directions will flash red.  The only deviation from this would be an intersection beacon where the side roads have conspicuous stop signs.”

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