Yuma Sun

Flashing traffic lights might help prevent accidents

Devices catch one’s attention, even on busy roadways

- Roxanne Molenar Editor’s Notebook

Over spring break, we headed down to Ensenada, and there is one thing the city has figured out — the traffic lights.

In Ensenada, the traffic lights flash for a few moments before changing color … and the drivers pay attention. We approached a green light, and suddenly, it started to flash, before changing to yellow. A few seconds later, yellow started flashing, and then the light turned red.

Now, keep in mind, it felt like rush hour traffic. Lanes appeared to be suggestion­s, and cars weaved all over the place without warning. Turn signals? Many drivers did not appear inclined to use them, which I’ve noticed of drivers here, too.

But when those traffic lights started to flash, cars slowed down.

It’s the first time I’ve noticed traffic lights that flash in such as fashion, but I think Ensenada is on to something.

Drivers paid attention, slowed down, and drove appropriat­ely — and isn’t that the ultimate goal of a traffic control device?

The idea is something that might be worth considerin­g on some of our more dangerous stretches of roadway, such as darker county roads. A traffic signal that starts flashing certainly grabs one’s attention, as one’s eye seeks out the source of the flashing. And it was especially effective at night. Imagine how noticeable that would be on an otherwise dark roadway, such as out in the county somewhere?

Now, as we know, green means go. But when green starts flashing, drivers realize the chances of making that light are rapidly dwindling.

And for too many U.S. drivers, yellow means speed up to try and catch the light before it turns red — when in reality, the yellow light means slow down and prepare to stop. Maybe if it was a flashing yellow, drivers would get the message that the light means business.

Maybe such traffic lights would raise awareness — the flashing might catch the attention of a distracted driver or a drowsy one, and would help prevent accidents.

It’s an idea worth considerin­g!

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