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Stop Or Go: What Do You Do At Yellow Lights? Page 3

yellow light

But there are other potential benefits, such as minimizing emissions and vehicle fuel consumption. “Why should we incur an extra stop which consumes more fuel and emits more emissions?” Rakha asked.  “If you stop when you weren’t supposed to stop, you’ll stop very aggressively, which could cause an accident, a rear-end crash for someone behind you. The fact that you’re stopping does not mean that you’re a better driver. It could mean that you’re more dangerous.”

When will any of this take place? Rakha said that the DOT requires a rigorous process before changing their procedures for designing yellow interval durations. This is typically mandated federally from the Institute for Transportation Engineers (ITE) or AASHTO.

Rakha added that he plans to approach the DOT to see if his group can gather additional data to design specific yellow timings and test them in the field for real drivers.

Our take

With development occurring now on V-to-I and I-to-V communication systems, perhaps the horizon for longer yellow times isn’t all that far off. On the other hand, when and if self-driving cars become a reality, the need may be moot – at least on certain roadways.

In the meantime, we can perhaps draw our own conclusions from Rakha’s research about driver reaction times, approach speed and distance from a signalized intersection, in making a personal decision whether to stop or go. While Rakha emphasized he cannot recommend stop or go, what he can do is recommend to traffic engineers ways that they can come up with a better plan for yellow times.

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Comments (4)
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  2. How about a reference to driver training here? Any time you approach a light you define your own decision point for the current circustances. If light is still green when I reach that point then I go if it turns yellow after I have passed it. If it turns yellow before I reach the decsision point then I stop. There is no uncertainty zone and reaction time is reduced as I have already decided and anticpated what I am going to do. But then I guess we dont actually try to teach people to drive any more.

  3. BKRE, you're absolutely right. A lot of people think they "know" how to drive -- after all, they know how to turn the wheel and step on the pedals. But knowing how to drive involves anticipation, the ability to See the situation developing around you, and critical thinking and decision making skills. We Need to go back to REAL Driving Exams on the road. We need to weed out the dangerous drivers in order to make it safer for everybody.

  4. My city -- Indianapolis, has arguably the most wreckless drivers I've ever seen. Almost NOBODY Stops or even Slows Down for Yellow Lights, and an alarming number of drivers blow through RED Lights at high speed. The ideas of Flashing Yellows or Longer Yellows or Yellow Lines on the pavement would just encourage wreckless drivers to become even More Wreckless. When the light turns Yellow, Prudent drivers need to Slow down to a Stop. We need More Red Light Cameras at intersections. The Driver Wrecklessness Will Not Get Better By Itself.

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