Traffic Talk: Oklahoma's traffic signs are placed purposely

Don Gammill: Configuration of the street or highway determines how and when signs are placed
by Don Gammill Modified: February 17, 2014 at 11:00 am •  Published: February 17, 2014
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Do you place the sign or not?

Well, it depends. Read on.

Something that has been bothersome to me since I moved from Dallas to Oklahoma City ... On none of the expressways, highways, or toll roads are there YIELD signs from any direction either off of or on the highway road from the excess road. Example, at Pennsylvania (Avenue) and Memorial Road going west on the Kilpatrick (Turnpike), when you exit on the access road you want to make a right turn onto Penn. The toll road is busy as ALWAYS and the Penn access road is impossible. Cars do not courteously let you enter and cross over for a right hand turn. In fact, they won't let you enter to continue forward. In Dallas and other Texas cities, cars on the excess roads are warned to YIELD at the main highway exit for cars coming off the road to clear that small exit ramp from the highway and to YIELD before entering a highway from the access road which makes safe sense but (is) ignored in OKC and surrounding areas. Other examples, the toll road and Meridian going to the Heart Hospital, any exit on (the) Kilpatrick to Mustang, any place off or on Interstate 40 or I-44, etc. Please bring this to the correct attention and remind them the cost of signage is not as expensive as a life waiting to expire in an accident.

— Art, Oklahoma City

“The short answer is this,” says Cody Boyd of the state Transportation Department. “Traffic signs are placed in accordance with the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices, which specifies certain signage for certain highway and exit configurations.

“If highway traffic is exiting via a short exit ramp directly to a service road carrying two-way traffic, service road drivers must yield or stop so highway drivers can safely cross into the right lane of the service road. If highway traffic is exiting to a service road with one-way traffic (which are often city streets in Oklahoma City), exiting drivers typically have a dedicated lane from the exit to the next traffic signal.

“While it can be inconvenient to exiting drivers who want to exit and immediately turn right, it's the safe way to move higher speed highway traffic to a busy city street without causing major congestion. One suggestion is to exit a street earlier to allow more time to change lanes.

Boyd provided these examples for reference:

• Eastbound Interstate 240 traffic near Walker Avenue can exit to the service road, which is SW 74, a city street carrying two lanes of eastbound traffic. Requiring two lanes of traffic on a busy city street to yield or stop for all exiting highway traffic would create dangerous congestion.

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by Don Gammill
General Assignment Editor and Columnist
Don Gammill is general assignment editor and columnist. A native of Ponca City, he graduated from Central State University (now the University of Central Oklahoma). While in college, he was a sports stringer for The Oklahoma City Times....
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