Study Finds New Traffic Signal Feature Improves Traffic Flow

Motorists who find themselves stopped at an intersection will arrive at their destination faster if traffic signals give motorists notice before the light changes to green. A team of Belgian researchers from Hasselt University presented their findings on the “starting yellow” idea to the Transportation Research Board in Washington, DC earlier this year.

Germany and the UK already use the system, which flashes the traffic signal’s yellow light one or two seconds before the green light illuminates. The idea is to give motorists a chance to prepare to get moving by placing their cars in gear, or putting down their mobile phones. As in the United States, Belgium does not permit the use of starting yellow lights. So the researchers used a driving simulator to investigate the effects of the idea on traffic flow and safety.