When used and placed correctly, traffic signals may improve traffic flow and safety. When considering a traffic signal installation, in compliance with state and federal guidelines, the city gathers information about the traffic for the intersection in question. The city compares the traffic conditions against the minimum guidelines or “warrants” to ensure that the criteria are met for an installation. Simply put, these warrants ask:
- Are there so many cars on both streets that signal control is necessary to clear up driver confusion or relieve traffic congestion?
- Is the main street traffic so heavy that drivers on the side street try to cross when it is unsafe?
- Are there lots of pedestrians crossing a busy, main street? Does this result in confusing, congested, or hazardous conditions?
- Does the intersection’s accident history indicate that an installation will reduce the risk of a collision?
- Is there a combination of the above conditions which indicates that a traffic signal will be an asset rather than a liability to safety?
A warranted traffic signal installation generally will increase safety and will have the “good” driver’s compliance, however, where the guidelines are not met, driver compliance is reduced and more traffic hazards may result.
It is important to keep in mind that traffic signals don’t always prevent accidents, and may actually increase accidents after an unwarranted installation. A traffic signal installation may reduce right angle collisions, but the total number of collisions, particularly the rear-end type, may increase. Furthermore, an unwarranted signal installation may occasionally result in an increase in pedestrian accidents. Pedestrians may tend to feel secure with a painted crosswalk and red light between them and the approaching traffic, while the drivers may not always quickly recognize these "barriers".
Approval & Installation
The McAllen City Commission is the governing body that approves a new traffic signal, upon satisfactory findings of the city traffic study and evaluation. If approved, several things can affect how soon a signal may be installed, such as the need for city or state coordination, preparation of engineering plans and complexity of contract awards and installation. Generally, if everything proceeds smoothly and funds are available, an approved traffic signal could be installed approximately from 12 to 24 months after a request is made.
To make a formal request, please send us your name, address and telephone number along with the location of your request and the traffic safety issue you would like addressed to the Traffic Operations Department at: Traffic@mcallen.net
210 N. 20th Street
McAllen, TX 78501