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New Flashing Arrows Designed to Prevent Left Turn Car Accidents

May 23, 2012

An innovative new development in traffic signals may cut down left turn traffic accidents on Atlanta streets. Left turns at intersections often result in serious collisions because the vehicle that is turning must cross an opposing lane of traffic.

When drivers do not adhere to traffic signals, fail to pay sufficient attention or do not respect right of way rules, the result can be serious collisions resulting in catastrophic injuries or the tragic death of a loved one. If you are traveling straight through an intersection and involved in a collision with a vehicle making a left turn, the driver making a left turn who is involved in a car crash will usually, though not always, be at-fault for the collision.

A new type of traffic signal is being tested in a number of states in the hopes that it will prevent left turn accidents. The new signal is a flashing yellow arrow which signals that a driver may make a left turn but only after yielding to traffic from the opposite direction that is proceeding straight in the adjacent lane.

These signals are used where traffic proceeding in the same direction and going straight has a red light, and traffic coming from the other direction and going straight has a green light. The flashing yellow light is intended to direct drivers to yield to the traffic with the green light and proceed only when there is no danger from this traffic. The rationale behind the new light configuration is that a flashing yellow light is less likely to confuse a driver turning left about the need to yield before proceeding than a green light. Motorists often interpret a green light as meaning “go” as opposed to “proceed when safe.”

While these signals may be an improvement on standard red, yellow and green light configurations, it is not yet clear that these lights are effective at preventing left turn accidents in busy metro areas like Atlanta. The lights are currently deployed at approximately 1,000 intersections located in a handful of urban areas in states including Kentucky, Oregon, Florida, Texas, Michigan, Minnesota and Washington according to the Federal Highway Administration. In Oregon, Florida and Minnesota, this traffic light configuration is now the norm.

Because the lights are relatively new, there is insufficient data to determine conclusively whether the yellow flashing turn signals are effective at reducing left turn accidents. According to an evaluation of early results in Kentucky, the flashing yellow signals seem to have reduced left turn accidents by as much as thirty percent. However, the mixed results are reflected by the removal of such a light in Oregon after eight left turn crashes were reported at an intersection within two years of installing the new signal configuration.

If a driver making a left turn hits you, the general rule is that the driver who is turning will be liable for a collision with a vehicle that was going straight. However, there are some exceptions to this basic rule that may make the issue of determining liability more complicated. If the vehicle that was proceeding straight toward you in the adjacent lane was speeding and/or running a red light or you began turning when safe but had to stop because of an unexpected event, the issue of liability may be less clear. While generally a vehicle is not supposed to begin a left turn until it is safe to complete the turn, the driver who is turning can not be expected to anticipate a vehicle collision or mechanical breakdown that occurs after the driver safely began his or her turn.

If you or someone you love has been injured in a left turn accident in Atlanta or you have lost a family member in a fatal left turn crash, our experienced Georgia accident lawyers can help you seek the compensation that you and your family need to rebuild your lives. Our Georgia left turn auto accident attorneys are available to assist clients throughout all of Georgia, including but not limited to Albany, Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Dalton, Gainesville, Macon, Marietta, Rome, Roswell, Savannah, Smyrna, Valdosta, Warner Robins and all smaller cities and rural areas in the state. Call us today for your free consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333), or visit us on the web at No matter where you are in Georgia, we are just a phone call away and we will even come to you.

Category: Auto Accidents

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