N.C.'s left-turn signals getting makeover

Posted November 9, 2010 4:05 p.m. EST
Updated November 9, 2010 7:19 p.m. EST

— For decades, left-turn signals have given drivers the green light on when to move safely across an intersection, but the North Carolina Department of Transportation says new signals being installed across the state will help motorists even more.

The new style features a flashing yellow arrow that, when active, lets drivers know they can turn left but that they must yield to oncoming traffic and pedestrians before doing so.

They were designed to make it easier for drivers to know what to do when making a left turn and are taking the place of the traditional signals.

Over the past five years, the DOT has installed the new signals at nearly 400 of intersections across the state, including one at the visitor’s entrance of WakeMed on New Bern Avenue.

Crews will install the new signals at four Zebulon intersections this month.

Some drivers say they think the lights could be confusing initially, because they would be unsure whether the flashing yellow is indicative of a problem with the signal.

Studies, however, have found that the lights have reduced left-turn crashes at state intersections by 37 percent and that they also keep traffic flowing more smoothly.

DOT engineer Greg Fuller says the new lights are a sign of the future.

“When you can get a device that improves safety and the efficiency, that's very promising,” he said.