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Ask Dr. Delay: No secret trick to speed up traffic light cycle

Traffic signals that seem to take forever to turn green can drive some of us nuts — even the most patient drivers can get irritated while idling at a persistently red signal with no visible cross-traffic as far as the eye can see. The Doc has heard of a variety of ill-advised tricks motorists employ to try to get the signal to change, including shifting the vehicle into reverse then back to drive in order to roll over the white thermal pad on the pavement repeatedly.

A new one came across my desk recently from several readers claiming that a neat trick is flashing one's bright lights several times from a distance of about 25 to 50 feet from the signal. "The actuated light will recognize that as multiple cars coming up and will prompt the light to change much faster," a correspondent told me in an e-mail.

We checked this one out with Bill Foster, the city's traffic signal manager, and he said that he has never heard of any traffic signals being activated by flashing headlights — they simply don't operate that way. This also brings up safety issues: In their zeal to get through an intersection more quickly, someone may attempt flashing their high-beams, which could very well startle or confuse other motorists or even momentarily interfere with the vision of others. The Doc's advice: Skip the tricks and be patient. If a slow signal seems to be chronic, let me know and I'll pass your concerns on to the appropriate agency.

KENNEDY at macdill

No arrow forthcoming

Several readers who live in Pinellas and commute to Tampa for work or retirees who need to access MacDill Air Force Base have contacted the Doc about traffic jams on Kennedy Boulevard at MacDill Avenue. Traffic backups create a mess for both eastbound and westbound traffic trying to turn from Kennedy onto MacDill Avenue. Some motorists have requested that a protected turn signal be added to the intersection. We asked Kris Carson of the DOT to fill us in on what's going on there.

Carson told us that the DOT has investigated requests for an arrow at Kennedy and S MacDill Avenue on several occasions and that the DOT's crash data shows no left-turn crashes westbound from 2006 to date. Carson said that eastbound traffic backs up because to the west, Henderson Boulevard also feeds traffic into the street between MacDill and Henderson. Providing an arrow for westbound traffic would require stopping the eastbound traffic longer, which would in turn affect the Henderson intersection. As with most of these types of situations, fixing a problem for one direction of traffic creates one for the opposing direction, a consideration that must be weighed.

In this case, there's no easy solution that will remedy the issue.


Exit does lead to 102nd

Work on U.S. 19 has some motorists wondering about where some crossroads lead. Pat Tierney asked us to inquire about access to 102nd Avenue from U.S. 19. She wrote:

"Prior to the reconstruction on U.S. 19, I was able to drive north on 19 to 102nd Avenue and turn left to Largo. I am having trouble finding a way to do this now. There is an exit for Bryan Dairy, but it seems to go into a subdivision, and I am unable to understand how to access Bryan Dairy. It is very confusing. Can you clarify this for me?"

The Bryan Dairy exit on U.S. 19 is indeed the exit you want to take to head west toward Largo. Eastbound traffic would turn right from 19 onto 118th Avenue to head toward Tampa. It's understandable that this creates some confusion and while it may appear that the Bryan Dairy/County Road 296 exit from U.S. 19 will go into a subdivision, it does lead to Largo and becomes 102nd Avenue once you cross Starkey Road.

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: No secret trick to speed up traffic light cycle 12/05/09 [Last modified: Monday, November 7, 2011 5:08pm]
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