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Ask Dr. Delay: Yellow left-turn signal debuts at Palm Harbor intersection

A new traffic signal designed to manage left turns has debuted in Pinellas County, and if it works out well, we might see more of them at south county intersections managed by the county.

The new signal is at Belcher Road and Nebraska Avenue in Palm Harbor, and the state Department of Transportation and various municipalities are monitoring the trial.

The signal features a flashing yellow arrow that lets motorists turn left with caution after yielding to oncoming traffic. A Pinellas County official told us research suggests the flashing yellow arrow helps move traffic through an intersection faster and more safely than solid green signals alone, and that drivers are less likely to make left-turn mistakes when guided by flashing yellow arrows.

The new signal is a test site, and data will be compared to a similar intersection at Belcher and Tampa roads. If the study finds the flashing yellow arrow to be beneficial, others will be installed.

Pinellas is among the first communities in the nation to use flashing yellow arrow left-turn signals at intersections where circular green signal lights were previously used, said Pinellas communications representative Marq Caughell. The signal is also being tested in Michigan, Oregon, Maryland, California and Colorado.

Blue reflectors

Embedded bumps help mark hydrant spots

Like last week's query about the white lights on traffic signals that help law enforcement officers spot red light runners, here's another question that has been posed by many readers, most recently by a high school student who is a new driver:

"Dear Doc, what's the deal with the reflectors that are in the middle of the road? They don't seem to be lined up with the median or lane stripes that are painted on the road and they aren't in any kind of pattern or anything, plus they're kind of annoying when I run over them."

The blue reflectors help firefighters find hydrants at night and in smoke or fog. The next time you see a reflector in the road, look to your left or right and you will see a fire hydrant in line with the reflector.

AAA Tow To Go

Take a free ride home after holiday partying

With the holiday season upon us, it's a good time to remind motorists about AAA's Tow To Go program, which provides a free ride home to folks who have consumed alcohol and should not be on the road. AAA's program, funded by Budweiser, will be available Nov. 26 to Jan. 2. If you've had too much to drink and there's no cash for a cab, call 1-800-222-4357. A tow truck from AAA will provide a free ride home. Stash this information in your wallet. You might not need it this season, but chances are someone you know might.

Until next week, happy and safe motoring!

Doc Delay is on twitter! Get news from the road at Please e-mail Dr. Delay at to share your traffic concerns, comments and questions.

Ask Dr. Delay: Yellow left-turn signal debuts at Palm Harbor intersection 11/14/09 [Last modified: Saturday, November 14, 2009 3:30am]
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