New traffic signal aims to ease confusion


A new kind of traffic signal will be installed on the D Street and Vulcan Avenue stoplight, just west of Encinitas City Hall. The goal: make left-hand turns safer.

Currently, the stoplight signal allows left turns from Vulcan Avenue onto D Street when there’s a solid green arrow, or during a “solid green ball” once there’s a gap in oncoming traffic and pedestrians.

Instead of the green ball, the new display will have a flashing yellow arrow that indicates drivers may turn left but must yield to pedestrians and vehicles.

Federal research indicates the flashing yellow turn is safer than the solid green ball, since the flashing yellow arrow communicates the driver should practice caution. The green ball has led some motorists to wrongly think they have a protected turn, according to the National Cooperative Highway Research Program.

This type of traffic signal is new to Encinitas, but its already in place throughout California cities like Fullerton, Indio, El Cajon and Pasadena. These new signals are now a national standard and are being installed throughout the country, states a city press release.

The new signal could be put in at more intersections, but city staff will evaluate how it goes at D Street and Vulcan Avenue for a few months before making a decision. Potential intersections include: Encinitas Boulevard and Vulcan Avenue; Quail Gardens Drive and Leucadia Boulevard; and Vulcan Avenue and Leucadia Boulevard, according to Luke Baker, traffic engineering specialist with the city.

Plans call for installing the new signal on March 22, he said.

The cost of the signal and installing it is $10,000, with the money coming from the city’s general fund.

As a reminder to drivers, the new signal will include a sign of what the four arrows mean:

• Solid red arrow: no left turn allowed

• Solid yellow arrow: drivers should prepare to stop because the light is about to turn red

• Flashing yellow arrow: drivers may turn left but must yield to pedestrians and oncoming vehicles

• Green arrow: drivers may turn left