Dear DTM: As part of the Jersey Diaspora, where going right around a jug handle to go left is a way of life, the ubiquitous use of yield signs on dedicated right turning lanes in Arkansas is fascinating. Are yield signs an Arkansas or Southern thing? Where I grew up and learned to drive, a lane to go right is a God-given right. -- Sent from My Blackberry
Dear Blackberry: Let's take this piece by piece.
A diaspora is the dispersion of a people from their homeland. The word is often used to describe the dispersion of the Jews from the Land of Israel. It can also mean the voluntary movement of people from New Jersey who are fortunate to have relocated to the Small and Wonderful State of Arkansas.
A jug handle, we have now learned, is a half-loop intersection design, hundreds of which are in New Jersey. (We got lost once on the New Jersey Turnpike. Our fault; not the fault of the Garden State.) A jug handle ramp looks like -- surprise! -- the handle of a jug. It's a ramp that allows traffic to change direction without stops or U-turns.
To our small brain, the jug handle is a variation on the theme of the roundabout or traffic circle. No traffic lights, no left turn signals -- and more roundabouts in Arkansas all the time. The jug handle also reminds us of a Texas turnaround, or Texas U-turn, which is a lane for traffic to go from one side of a one-way frontage road to the opposite frontage road by crossing over or under an expressway.
For about a decade, the Drivetime Diaspora included clan members in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. We learned to love those Texas turnarounds, because traffic there beats the Jersey Turnpike all to heck. This branch of the clan now lives in a foreign city whose traffic is described as the worst in the world. We hope to visit soon to observe and report.
Are yield signs an Arkansas or Southern thing? We conclude they are a United States thing, at the very least. Because they're in the Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices. As readers of this column know, the MUTCD is a federal publication whose aim is to standardize best traffic engineering practices.
The MUTCD says traffic controlled by a yield sign shall slow down to a speed reasonable for existing conditions, or stop when necessary to avoid conflicting traffic. They are used on an approach to a through street or highway where a full stop is not always required.
We would bet that even New Jersey has thousands of yield signs, especially in places where traffic isn't heavy enough to require jug handle or other creative and expensive intersections.
Finally, regarding God-given rights, we're weak on those outside of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Vanity plate from our Fort Smith correspondent: B HAP E.
Metro on 01/04/2020