Two new traffic warning signs go up on Route 17

Date Published: 
Dec. 29, 2017

Drivers on Route 17 (Roxana Road) will see new flashing yellow beacons to help warn them when traffic may be approaching at two intersections: Daisey Road and Powell Farm Road/Peppers Corner Road.

It isn’t a full stoplight, strung across the road. Instead, the through-route-activated warning system (TRAWS) is a sign with yellow flashing beacons that activates when another car is approaching the intersection from a crossroad.

Route 17 traffic drives through that area at 50 mph, while the side-road traffic must come to a complete stop and yield at Route 17.

Now, when cars on the side roads approach the intersection, underground sensors will send a signal to the Route 17 signs. Drivers on Route 17 will see the flashing LED on a yellow sign that reads “Vehicles Entering When Flashing.”

Drivers aren’t required to do anything differently, and it does not change the overall traffic pattern. However, the change is intended to make drivers more cognizant about driving safely through the intersection.

“By alerting drivers on the major approach … it allows them to make adjustments to their driving (lower travel speed, increase awareness of the approaching intersection, prepare to apply brakes in case of vehicle running the stop sign) that have been shown effective in reducing the number of angle type crashes that occur at minor stop controlled intersections such as Daisey Road/Roxana Road and Powell Farm Road/Roxana Road,” Traffic Studies Manager Peter Haag wrote to state legislators a year ago.

The Daisey Road project should be done in mid-January, while the other project is awaiting electric hook-up from the power company.

DelDOT also recommended installing “Look Again” signs on the cross streets. DelDOT staff said they hope this will reduce the number of cars that run the stop signs or that “fail to remain stopped.”

Past improvements, including regular signage and striping, haven’t been very effective in significantly reducing car collisions, according to DelDOT.

According to the Federal Highway Administration, “This system has been most successfully deployed in rural areas or in areas where the through route speed limit is 45 mph or greater.” Route 17 meets both criteria. Missouri used the signage system and reported an average 51 percent drop in car crashes.

It’s a relatively low-cost project, compared to installation of a full traffic signal. Both roads could expect to see more traffic in the future, as they both end within half a mile of each other in Bayard, an unincorporated area currently seeing new housing developments.

Route 17 has gotten plenty of action lately. Although DelDOT staff have said that stoplights are not the answer to all traffic problems, a full traffic signal was installed at Route 17 and Burbage Road in late 2016, after a DelDOT traffic study determined that 8 out of 11 accidents there could have been prevented.

DelDOT has also relied more on situational technology to improve safety and traffic flow. For instance, many traffic signals rely on underground detectors to give vehicles a green light, and some pedestrian crosswalks activate a stoplight for oncoming traffic.