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Flashing yellow arrows on traffic signals are here to stay

Q. Fullerton and other cities have had flashing amber signals for years. I, my wife and our friends don’t like them and there are still drivers who don’t know what to do when they come upon them. We respond to them like we would to any amber signal. I hope that’s right. If it is a trial, when will it end? Some drivers are hesitant to even enter the intersection, until they get beeped from the car behind them.

– Don Schilling, Anaheim

A. Fifteen or so years ago, Fullerton was one of only a handful of cities in California that had the yellow flashing arrows on some traffic signals, part of an Uncle Sam test run with them.

They are meant to give the driver the opportunity to turn left – just reminding the motorist to be extra careful if he or she chooses to do so.

In December 2009, ol’ Uncle Sam decided he liked them, and the U.S. Department of Transportation approved the strategy, Dave Roseman, Fullerton’s traffic engineer, told Honk.

“Now you can find them in almost every state in the union,” he said in an email. Studies have “shown that the flashing-yellow-arrow operation has a lower crash rate than permissive (allowed, but not required) left-turns under a green-ball indication.

“In Southern California, the flashing yellow arrow isn’t as prevalent as it is in other parts of the country; however, slowly more and more are being installed here, too.

“When approaching a flashing yellow arrow, you are free to move into the intersection and proceed to make your left turn if there is a sufficient gap in oncoming traffic to complete that turn and there are no pedestrians crossing the street to your left,” Roseman said.

Q. Honk: Thanks for the information on the gas tax. This raised a question in my mind. Californians buy billions of gallons of motor fuel each year, taxed at 50.5 cents per gallon by the state, producing billions of dollars in revenue for transportation projects, including road construction. The governor wants to phase out gas-powered vehicles; by 2035, he wants all new cars and passenger trucks sold in California to be zero-emission. Who will provide the funds to build and maintain the roads for these environmentally friendly vehicles?

– Martin DeKarver, Irvine

A. Motorists.

The Legislative Analyst’s Office, a non-partisan wing of state government, says that tax you are talking about, Martin, will raise $6.6 billion this fiscal year. State officials, seeing what you see, have begun planning for a new way to tax the public.

The California Transportation Commission is studying the issue, and its 97-page report that came out in 2017 suggests scenarios.

Honk envisions this: A per-mile road charge will be tabulated by an on-vehicle computer; we might pay at the pump or in some other fashion.

There are more questions than stars in the sky. But expect a heightened urgency for crafting a road-charge system as more and more electric vehicles, and those that get amazing gas mileage, hit the roadways.

Honkin’ fact: Orange County’s Dana, Newport and Sunset harbors are home to 15,000 boats, while 70,000 in all are registered in the county; most, of course, are on land until moving to the Pacific, a lake or a pond for the day via trailers. (Source: Orange County Sheriff’s Department).

To ask Honk questions, reach him at honk@ocregister.com. He only answers those that are published. To see Honk online: ocregister.com/tag/honk. Twitter: @OCRegisterHonk


Source: Orange County Register

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