I'm an older driver (73), grew up in Detroit and can remember the days when stoplight-controlled intersections typically didn't have left turn lights. Drivers just made their turn when there was adequate room to do so. I wish it were still that way when I'm sitting at an intersection where the opposing traffic has cleared but the left turn light is still against me.
Where this seems to occur to me frequently is the northbound left turn lane of Crater Lake Avenue, where it intersects Stevens Street. Has it been proven that accidents occur significantly less often when drivers are not free to use their own judgment? I'm aware that left turns can be made against the light at some intersections, but the only ones I've heard of involve one-way streets.
— H. Anderson
I ran your question by the traffic engineers for the city of Medford regarding frequency of crashes. It seemed to me that common sense would suggest that when car movement is controlled by traffic lights, then fewer crashes will occur. They backed me up on this assessment as I found out.
Unfortunately a few less-than-stellar drivers make poor decisions and the crash history at an intersection factors into whether a traffic light is installed. So, for the time being you're stuck waiting for the light to cycle through.
The good news I learned is that the city of Medford is going to be adopting more of the flashing yellow lights that are more prevalent out in the county areas, which allow for left turns under caution. No time frame for how soon that will happen, but it sounds like it's coming, and I believe the intersection you mentioned is on the list.
Dace Cochran, a patrol sergeant with the Jackson County Sheriff's Department, writes a weekly Q&A column on police issues for the Mail Tribune. Have a question for him? Write to Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501, or email email@example.com.