Traffic Light Confusion

In my neighborhood there are many streets where the left-turn lane is controlled by a traffic light. Obviously, green means go and red means don’t go. But it is not that simple because there are many different configurations in terms of where the lights are placed and how the traffic is controlled.


Regardless of placement on the pole, the light with the arrow is easily recognized.

The confusion lies with how the lights function, and there seems to be no standard. Here are some of the ways they work in my neighborhood.

  1. The green arrow goes on first and allows traffic to turn left, but the main traffic lanes remain stopped because the regular traffic light is red. Then, the green arrow turns red and the regular traffic light turns green.
  2. The green turn arrow and the regular green light go on at the same time, but allowing  traffic to flow only in one direction at a time (north/south or east/west).
  3. The main green light goes on first and the left turn arrow remains red. When the main light turns red, the left arrow then turns green.

It goes without saying that there is a lot of horn honking. There is also considerable frustration when there is high traffic volume because not that many vehicles can go through the intersection between light changes.

While not much could be done to avoid congestion, at the very least the lights should operate in the same manner from one intersection to another to avoid confusion.




About stanleygraphics

I am a veteran graphic designer who started at the time when cut and paste meant an X-acto knife and rubber cement. I use my experience to educate others. I have an intolerance for ignorance and stupidity.
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