Time for more say in how roads work

I am disappointed by The Durango Herald’s representation of CDOT’s self-serving statistics (Nov. 21); your story rightly questions the safety of the commercial corridor south of town, but then you present the “crashes on South Camino del Rio” study as proof of something when all it shows is that CDOT knows how to compare apples to oranges. The data presented includes four intersections and purports to show that crashes were reduced after flashing yellow arrows were introduced, yet, as your story reports, there are no flashing yellow arrows at the Walmart intersection.

The statistics might be valid if you eliminated the data for the Walmart intersection, and then I’d expect the numbers for the three other Camino intersections that have flashing yellow arrows to be far less rosy than the 20 percent reduction in crashes for which CDOT claims credit.

The Herald is just adding confusion to CDOT’s failure to use human-factors engineering principles in their flashing yellow arrow campaign.

A flashing light attracts attention – that’s all. It does not convey the traffic-control information that CDOT wishes it did.

Indeed, in most traffic-control systems a flashing signal indicates that it is about to change, which might explain why there are fewer crashes here now – people hesitate to turn left on a flashing yellow arrow, even if there is no oncoming traffic.

The display of any left-turn arrow will tend to make drivers believe it is for a controlled, protected left turn: if the arrow’s red, they stop; if it’s green, they go; if it’s yellow, they go quickly or stop; and if it’s flashing, they hesitate, but not because they’re looking at oncoming traffic. It is because they are looking at the blinking light trying to figure out what it means.

It is time for CDOT to step back, for town drivers to assert their local interests, for speed limits on main roads to be much lower and for aesthetic values to override CDOT’s git ’em up, move ’em along dreariness.

We pay for the roads. It is time we got more say in how they work.

John Griffiths


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