San Francisco

New Traffic Lights in Santa Clara Leave Drivers Baffled

Signals at crosswalks on El Camino Real have no green lights

Four new traffic lights have been installed along crosswalks in Santa Clara, and they're confusing drivers because they have no green lights.

"I drove by a couple times, and I just don't know what to do, stop or keep going," said Jose Soria, of Morgan Hill.

The lights are along El Camino Real. There are similar signals in parts of San Jose and San Francisco.

The signals have two red lights and a yellow light. The yellow is meant as a warning to drivers to prepare to stop because a pedestrian is waiting. Two reds means stop.

As pedestrians cross, a red light begins blinking, which means drivers are supposed to stop, but can continue if no one is in the crosswalk - even though walkers still have time to cross.

"There were cars still, if they see no pedestrian (in the crosswalk) just pass," said Jin Chen, of Santa Clara.

When the lights go off, drivers can go.

The city of Santa Clara and Caltrans split the $1 million cost for the four signals.

"This is a Caltrans standard," Santa Clara City Manager Rajeev Batra said. "It only becomes a standard when it's been tested and used elsewhere."

They're cheaper than typical traffic lights, the city says, and safer than typical crosswalks.

As for the flashing reds: "If there is a flashing bulb once the pedestrian has crossed the entire width of the street, then it's just like a yellow light," Batra said.

Confused drivers said they're glad cars are stopping the crosswalk now but added they'd prefer what they're used to.

More public education and lights may be on the way to Santa Clara. The city says a standard traffic light wouldn't be necessary at the four intersections, and the new signals keep traffic moving.

Contact Us