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Left Turns Are Legal as Long as the Light Is Still Green

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Dear Street Smart:

We all know that it is permissible to make a right turn on a red light.

But what about turning left when the green arrow has gone off and the light for traffic going straight is green?

I’m particularly interested in the intersection of Telephone Road and Johnson Drive.

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Bill Walsh, Ventura

Dear Reader:

Sometimes left turns are allowed when the green arrow is off, and other times they are not.

The difference is that some green left-turn arrows are followed by red left-turn arrows, while others are followed by a regular green light, Ventura traffic engineer Nazir Lalani says.

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If a green left-turn arrow goes off and a regular green light remains, motorists are allowed to turn left--after yielding to oncoming traffic.

If, however, the green left-turn arrow turns red, motorists must wait for the next green arrow.

On Telephone Road at Johnson Drive, don’t even think of turning left once the arrow turns red. “You’d be in violation of the law,” Lalani said.

You are not the only one who wonders about the rules of left-turn traffic signals.

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The city of Ventura has prepared an entire brochure on the subject as part of its series of traffic information brochures.

For a free copy, call 654-7887.

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Dear Street Smart:

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Trying to make a left turn from Hillcrest Drive into the Circuit City parking lot in Thousand Oaks is extremely dangerous and getting worse.

The median on Hillcrest off Lynn Road has some very attractive landscaping. But as the plants and trees grow, they are obstructing the view of cars coming in the opposite direction.

Can these plants be trimmed to make this turn safer?

Toni Carlson, Moorpark

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Dear Reader:

Thanks to your tip, Thousand Oaks street maintenance workers will check out the potential plant problem within the next few days.

If the unruly plants are obstructing traffic on Hillcrest Drive, they will be mercilessly chopped into compliance with traffic safety codes, says Roy Myers, assistant traffic engineer for the city.

According to those codes, no plant in the median strip may measure more than 2 1/2 feet in height.

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On Hillcrest at the entrance to Circuit City, where the speed limit is 45 m.p.h., the plants could be hacked even more to provide the required 495 feet of visibility.

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Dear Street Smart:

I’m writing in response to a gentleman who wrote a few weeks ago complaining about the lack of lighting on the Simi Valley Freeway.

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I have to agree that there are stretches that are extremely dark and dangerous.

Caltrans responded to his concern by saying the lights had been burned out and were replaced. But I drive to school three nights a week from Newbury Park to Simi Valley on the Moorpark Freeway and lighting is still a problem.

There’s a 2 1/2-mile stretch between Collins Drive and Madera Road that has no lights or light poles.

Sometimes when I’m driving home from class and I’m the only driver on the road, it can get pretty creepy.

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Other than my headlights, it’s pitch black. I’d hate to have a flat tire and be stuck in the dark.

For the sake of safety, lights should be installed.

Marcia Mudgett, Newbury Park

Dear Reader:

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The state Department of Transportation does not agree with you.

State highway safety codes do not require that lights be placed along the roadway, senior Caltrans engineer Tony Colella says.

Lights are mandatory only at on- and off-ramps, interchanges, bridges and “anything that has a special or unusual feature to it,” Colella said.

Darkness does not count as an unusual feature.

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“All the highways are dark,” Colella said. “Just being dark isn’t enough to make lights necessary.”


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