Ken Larsen's web site - Traffic issue at 15-501 and Willow Drive


At about 7:30 PM on Thursday November 15, 2018 I had a near accident at the intersection of Willow Drive and 15-501 in Chapel Hill.

Here are a pair of 40 second videos that my dash camera caught:  [Note:  The date and time stamps are off.  Also, I uttered the F-word.  Sorry about that.]

Video #1:  Forward view:

Video #2:  Rear view:

I was on Willow Drive heading west and waiting for the light to turn green.  It turned green, but then my path across the intersection was blocked by vehicles turning in front me from the west side of the intersection.  I assert that I had the right of way, and those turning vehicles were in the wrong.

I don't know what color light they had, but that intersection needs to be studied.  It's possible that a traffic light problem exists, but I suspect that it's more a matter of drivers in a hurry and not obeying the traffic light rules.  I'm guessing that they had a yellow light but weren't yielding to me ... which is what they should have done.  If so, tickets need to be written to such drivers.

Here's a dashcam video of me passing through that same intersection a few hours later, but from the other direction: 

Viideo #3: 

It shows a flashing yellow light for vehicles wishing to turn left.  This makes me believe that the intersection has a scofflaw problem and not a traffic light problem.

Follow-up/Conclusion (November 17, 2018)

Too many people do not know what a flashing yellow light means.  It's equivalent to a yield sign.  Video #1 shows that I was in the right, because I had a green light.  The people turning in front of me were in the wrong.  They had a flashing yellow light and were obliged to yield to me.  Video #3 proves that they had a flashing yellow light.  There was nothing wrong with the traffic light.

Flashing yellow lights were introduced to Chapel Hill only a few years ago.  Too many people think that that means a malfunction in the light. 

If the light were yellow, but not flashing, vehicles would be obliged to stop if they could do so safely.

One of my police officer friends educated me on this this morning at my gym.  Thank you, my friend!

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