Improving Safety

Statistically, left turns are one of the most dangerous maneuvers a driver can make, but that may change with the introduction of a new, more intuitive traffic signal at select intersections within Precinct 4.

By the end of the year, Precinct 4 will begin replacing 43 traditional yield-on-green traffic signals with flashing yellow arrow left-turn signals. The new signals will improve traffic flow by giving drivers more opportunities to safely make left turns.

“This will be the first widespread flashing yellow arrow display conversion in Precinct 4,” says Pamela Rocchi, director of Precinct 4’s Capital Improvement Projects division. “Harris County is introducing the flashing yellow arrow display at three-way intersections within Precinct 4 first, so motorists can begin to recognize and familiarize themselves with the display change. The concept would then broaden to include four-way intersections that meet the criteria for conversion.”

Once the initial signals are installed in Precinct 4, the Harris County Engineering Department plans to evaluate all qualifying signals throughout the county for conversion. Intersections will be evaluated based on their crash history, driver-sight distance, number of left-turn lanes, and traffic volume.

Benefits of the Signal

According to a seven-year study conducted by the National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP), the flashing yellow arrow signal led to fewer crashes at intersections, shorter traffic delays, and provided more flexibility to handle a variety of traffic volumes. In driver-comprehension studies, the signal stood out as the most intuitive. The study concluded that subjects already familiar with flashing yellow lights instinctively interpreted the new signal to mean “turn with caution.”

The signal was eventually approved for general use in the Federal Highway Administration’s 2009 Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices. Since then, the signals have been adopted across the country, including Texas in 2011. Commissioner R. Jack Cagle recently adopted the signals in Harris County after learning about the benefits other locations experienced with the conversion.

“My staff and I are excited to bring this proven technology to Precinct 4,” he says. “Our top priority on county roads is safety.”

Flashing Yellow Arrow Conversion Locations

1 Aldine Westfield Road at Bellchase
2 Aldine Westfield Road at Lexington Woods
3 Aldine Westfield Road at N Spring
4 Aldine Westfield Road at Old Aldine Westfield Road
5 Aldine Westfield Road at Trailing Vine
6 Atascocita Road at Kings Parkway
7 Atascocita Road at Atascocita Way
8 Atascocita Road at Ygnacio
9 Bammel N Houston Road at Falling Creek Drive
10 Bammel N Houston Road at Green Pines
11 Bammel N Houston Road at Old Bammel N Houston
12 Bammel N Houston Road at W Greens
13 Barker Cypress Road at Dinner Creek
14 Cutten Road at Bourgeois
15 Fairbanks N Houston Road at Emmott
16 Fairbanks N Houston Road at Rodney Ray / Breen
17 Fairbanks N Houston Road at Silver Crescent
18 Fairbanks N Houston Road at West Road
19 Fallbrook Road at Willowood
20 Gears Road at Walters Road
21 Holzwarth Road at Meadow Edge
22 Kuykendahl Road at Country Pines
23 Kuykendahl Road at Willow Forest
24 Louetta Road at Gettysburg
25 Louetta Road at Haude
26 Louetta Road at Mirror Lake
27 Louetta Road at Spring Creek Forest
28 Louetta Road at Terranova West
29 Spears Road at Spears Road / Gears Road
30 Spring Cypress Road at Louetta Glen
31 Spring Stuebner Road at Rothwood
32 Stuebner Airline Road at Lyons & Wimbledon Estates
33 Stuebner Airline Road at Oakwood Glen
34 Veterans Memorial Drive at Blue Bell
35 Veterans Memorial Drive at Frick
36 Veterans Memorial Drive at S Camden
37 Veterans Memorial Drive at W Greens
38 W Little York Road at River Bottom
39 W Little York Road at Yorkshire Woods
40 West Road at Ella Falls
41 West Road at Pleasonton
42 Gears Road at Reliant Drive
43 Gears Road at Spears Gears Road