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Why don’t downtown traffic lights flash red on cross streets and orange on main roads after 8?

Ken Little
StarNews

Why aren’t some downtown Wilmington traffic signals put in flashing operation mode late at night?

In a word, “safety,” said Denys Vielkanowitz, city signal systems management engineer.

The topic has been the subject of much research by the N.C. Department of Transportation, Vielkanowitz said.

“Studies have shown that collisions may increase at locations where traffic signals operate in late-night flash (mode). With today’s modern traffic control signal equipment, wait times at sparsely traveled roadways late at night should be minimal,” he said.

The N.C. DOT has criteria to evaluate if a traffic signal may safely operate in late-night flash mode, Vielkanowitz said.

“If the traffic signal meets this criteria, it is monitored on a regular basis to make sure crashes do not increase during the late-night flash,” he said.

Based on safety data, the local Division 3 N.C. DOT office made the decision to remove late-night flashing operation from all traffic signals within its jurisdiction, Vielkanowitz said.

“The city of Wilmington and N.C. DOT cooperate to provide consistent traffic control measures in an effort to reduce driver confusion across the region,” he said.

Vielkanowitz said a traffic signal operating in normal mode is understood and obeyed “at a much higher rate than a traffic signal in flashing operation.”

“Flashing operation can be perceived as a malfunctioning traffic signal. Therefore, some drivers do not obey the proper driving procedure when approaching the intersection, which increases the potential for an incident,” he said.

Here’s a link to questions frequently posed to the N.C. DOT about traffic signals: http://www.ncdot.gov/doh/preconstruct/traffic/faq.html

Here’s a link to the N.C. Division of Motor Vehicles Driver’s Handbook: http://www.ncdot.org/dmv/driver_services/drivershandbook/download/NCDL_English.pdf

Chapter 5 describes Traffic Signals, Signs, and Markings. Page 87 refers to procedure for flashing traffic signals.

User-contributed question by:
glenn

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2 Responses to “ Why don’t downtown traffic lights flash red on cross streets and orange on main roads after 8?”

  1. On February 25, 2011 at 6:54 am JoAnn wrote:

    “With today’s modern traffic control signal equipment, wait times at sparsely traveled roadways late at night should be minimal,” he said.”

    Just wondering when Wilmington is going to get some of this modern traffic control signal equipment? The way that most of the signals in this city operate, you would think that they are being operated by the 1960′s Crouse-Hinds type controllers.

  2. On February 25, 2011 at 7:28 pm glenn wrote:

    Another cop-out answer. MAKE PEOPLE THINK ABOUT WHAT THEY ARE DOING STOP TAKING CARE OF THEIR EVERY MOVE! Where will this end. Next thing you know there will be children playing sports where the score isn’t kept so as not to hurt anyone’s feelings. GROW UP TAKE RESPONSIBILITY. PLEASE!



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