Virginia Beach to Install New Traffic Lights to Reduce Left-Turn Accidents | Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp

 blinking yellow arrow light virginia beach rosemont roadSeptember 2011 is the scheduled debut for new traffic signals above left-turn lanes on Rosemont Road in Virginia Beach, VA. The lights will have only arrows, instead of a mix of ovals and arrows, and include a blinking yellow arrow. The goals of the pilot traffic signal replace program is to reduce the number of right-angle, or T-bone, crashes on one of the city’s busiest north-south streets.

Rosemont saw 31 left-turn accidents in the 2007-2009 period. Data compiled by the Virginian-Pilot indicate Virginia Beach drivers were involved in just more than 1,500 T-bone crashes during 2010.

The new traffic lights with blinking yellow arrows will be installed at the intersections where Rosemont Road crosses Sentara Way/Chester Street, South Plaza Trail, Salina Drive and Bow Creek Boulevard. The blinking arrow indicates traffic traveling straight on the opposite of the road has a green light and that drivers turning left must give those other cars, trucks, SUVs, motorcycles, bicycle riders and pedestrians the right of way before making their turn. The solid yellow arrow, as before, indicates the signal is about to turn red.

Former Virginia Beach police officer and current City Council member for Lynnhaven, which contains most of the Rosemont corridor, Jim Wood told the newspaper, “Anything that we do that makes it easier for people to understand traffic patterns and traffic rules is a good thing.”  The blinking yellow arrow turn lights already hang over rural highways on the Outer Banks and western mountains of North Carolina (NC), roads in states such as Colorado and Michigan, and streets and Virginia state highways in Roanoke County, VA. Each locality has reported an adjustment period for drivers after installing the nontraditional traffic signals, but each has also seen fewer left-hand turn accidents — and, subsequently, fewer injuries and deaths caused by crashes.

The recent tragedy at the Virginia Beach Oceanfront in which a SUV driver making a left-hand turn struck and killed a scooter rider who had a green light provided a stark reminder of the dangers posed by so-called “permissive” turns in which both people traveling straight and people turning have solid green signals. Risks for pedestrians, bicyclists and motorcycle or moped riders are particularly high, as many at-fault in left-turn accidents honestly claim they never saw the vehicle or person they hit until after the collision.

The only way to prevent left-turn wrecks is for drivers to come to a full stop and then completely scan each oncoming lane of traffic and the mouth of the street, parking lot or driveway into which they are turning. Any child, teen, adult, bike or other vehicle can be seen if people take the time to look.