New traffic lights come to metro area - Atlanta News, Weather, Traffic, and Sports | FOX 5

New traffic lights come to metro area

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Heads up drivers! If you haven't spotted one already,  keep an eye out for new flashing yellow traffic signals. They're coming to major intersections in almost every county around metro Atlanta.

The Federal Highway Administration did a study on these new  flashing yellow arrow lights. The new lights are safer, more efficient and better for the environment.

It will likely catch your eye. "This is a traditional straight signal but it has four lights in it," explains Mark McKinnon, Atlanta Regional Media Coordinator for the DOT.

That fourth light in the middle is a new flashing yellow arrow meant to make left turns easier for drivers.

"When that yellow arrow begins to flash, you've got a little bit more time to make your turn," McKinnon shows.

The lights will also be more efficient for timing out traffic flow in busy areas like West Paces Ferry and Northside Parkway. Jason Garner gives them the green light.  "I think it's a good thing. I drive a long way, from Acworth to Buckhead every day going to and from work. I've been doing it for the last five years and if it's going to help traffic, if it's going to improve the way things go down here... I think it's a great thing," says driver Jason Garner.


It will also mean less idling cars and less air pollution. "It's been very successful in other states. It also gives us a little more flexibility in timing out signals because we can adjust the time on all four of those lights in trying to help it with other signals in the area," states McKinnon.


DOT officials urge, just follow the light. Instead of a confusing green solid light, you'll get the flashing yellow caution/yield light before it turns solid yellow and then eventually red.

"We've found that this reduced left turn crashes by 35 percent. That's a huge number," exclaims McKinnon.

"If it's going to make it safer, that's wonderful. We'll find out. We'll find out," adds Garner.

At $6,000 to $8,000 dollars per intersection, they're also a cheaper and more realistic fix to help ease traffic where adding lanes aren't possible.

"When you're in a place like Atlanta, there are a lot of places where we can't widen roadways to try to alleviate congestion, so  we've got to look at other tools that we have," McKinnon explains.

DOT says this is now the preferred light, so you can expect new intersections will have these lights and many busy interchanges are being upgraded with them. It's part of their Regional Traffic Operations Program, and so far there are about 50 maintained by the DOT and more being added by local governments.

The next busy road on the list to get them will be Peachtree Industrial Boulevard. The lights are best suited for intersections with high traffic volume and high crash rates.

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