Experiences on the Front Lines of User Interfaces and Web Development

Traffic lights in Michigan: genius

A few years ago I blogged about how ridiculous most red left turn signals are. I still get frustrated every time I sit at a red turn light when I have perfect visibility and there are no cars coming my direction. I was just in Michigan this past weekend and they have exactly the system I have been wanting implemented in California (and elsewhere). At any intersection that has a dedicated turn signal, it goes through the following cycles:

  • Solid red, for when the other direction has a green light
  • Green turn arrow, for when oncoming traffic is stopped and you can turn freely
  • Flashing red, for when oncoming traffic is green. You must come to a stop, but if the road is clear you can then make a left turn.

The third option is safe and efficient. I definitely utilized it while driving around Grand Rapids, Michigan. I also like how they clearly label what traffic light is for cars turning left. Clear, large text which gets the job done and is not ambiguous.


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