By Scott Nicholson
Watauga County will soon have one of the state’s newest types of traffic signals, designed to make left turns easier and safer.
A light at the signalized intersection of U.S. 421 and Bamboo Road (SR 1514) will feature a series of left-turn signals to indicate stops, cautions and protected turns.
The existing five-light signal for the left turn from U.S. 421 northbound onto Bamboo Road will be replaced with the new style left-turn traffic signal head with four lights.
The designated left-turn lights were introduced last year and are designed to be simpler and help drivers better understand when to yield to oncoming traffic.
The lights feature a red directional arrow for “Stop,” a flashing yellow when a left turn is legal but the driver should yield to oncoming traffic, a constant yellow light when traffic should exercise caution and prepare to stop, and a green arrow to show the driver has the right of way to make the left turn.
The new traffic signal head resulted from a national study sponsored by the Federal Highway Administration and replaces what are considered “doghouse”-style lights.
According to the N.C. Department of Transportation, the study sought to improve driver understanding of left-turn traffic signal displays and to reduce accidents at signalized intersections.
The 421/Bamboo Road signal was scheduled for replacement on June 10.