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Could Longer Yellow Lights Save Pedestrian Lives?

Could Longer Yellow Lights Save Pedestrian Lives?
Christian J. Amendt

Even if you have a relative who has the best wheelchair possible to navigate terrain, it does not mean that your loved one is safe from all dangers. Some traffic intersections are particularly hazardous. Crossing one of these dangerous intersections may come with risk, especially if you are in a wheelchair. The length of a yellow traffic light may be a factor.

The Federal Highway Administration explains the dangers of intersections that do not warn their drivers in time to slow down before a red light and why intersections may become safer if they have longer yellow lights.

The problems with red-light running

The FHA points out that running a red light is a major cause of severe collisions at intersections with traffic signals. One of the contributing factors is yellow lights that do not last long enough. A yellow traffic signal lets drivers know that the green light has ended and to expect a red light soon. This should prepare drivers to stop.

When a yellow light is too brief, it does not provide a sufficient amount of time to warn drivers. Some people cannot slow their vehicles in enough time to stop before the intersection. At times, drivers may speed up to head through the intersection to beat the red light.

Longer yellow lights may be safer

The FHA cites a study that shows a longer yellow light may result in a 36-50% reduction in running a red light, as well as an 8-14% diminishment of total crashes and 12% fewer injury collisions. Still, a yellow light cannot last too long. It may come off as an extension of the green light and cause drivers not to slow down in anticipation of a red light.

Wheelchair pedestrians along with all pedestrians should know that they have a clear path to cross the street and that drivers will heed the traffic lights. If a traffic signal fails to give a driver sufficient warning that a red light is coming, the intersection itself may contribute heavily to a pedestrian accident and injury.

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