Encinitas drivers are seeing a new type of traffic signal on South Vulcan Avenue, at the intersection of D Street — something not seen much in California. And some motorists have complained of dangerously making the wrong move.
The normal four-light traffic signal allowing for dedicated left turns, combined with left-turn yields on a solid green light, was replaced last week. The new signal has a flashing yellow left-turn arrow, which means it’s okay to make a left-hand turn with caution, yielding to oncoming traffic. A sign has been posted to advise motorists what the flashing yellow arrow means.
“I’ve traveled all over the United States and I’ve never seen anything like it,” said Leucadia resident Paula Vrakas.
Luke Baker, a traffic engineer for the city, said El Cajon is the only other city in San Diego County to use this new type of signal known as “protective/permissive.”
“California has been very slow to adopt the findings of the Federal Highway Administration,” said Baker. “The study shows the new lights are more intuitive and lower crashes.”
Encinitas councilman Tony Kranz first asked the city to look into the new lights, which are becoming the standard in other parts of the country, according to Baker.
The signal, on the northwest corner of the city hall complex, is in a one-year test phase to see how the public reacts and if it will reduce accidents. If the light succeeds at its goal, the safety of the intersection will contrast to the signal a block north: absent a left-turn green arrow onto busy Encinitas Boulevard, cars traveling east and westbound on South Vulcan, turning left toward either I-5 or Coast Highway 101, often do not yield the right-of-way to vehicles traveling straight through the intersection.