New traffic signals are being installed in Overland Park, and some said the new lights could save lives.
The city is putting in its first blinking yellow light on Wednesday, and it might be a small notice to others - but one young man wants the new yellow light to make a big difference.
"I feel very proud, this will help save a lot of lives," Carl Vanwinkle said.
Three years ago Vanwinkle wasn't able to say those words – literally.
Vanwinkle suffered a severe head injury in a crash three years ago at the intersection of Antioch Road and 127th Street.
Vanwinkle was a passenger in a car that made a left turn into 127th Street, and a car heading south on Antioch crashed directly into his side. The impact was massive. Everyone survived, but Vanwinkle was in a coma for a month.
His mother remembers those months and months of therapy.
"He had dysarthria, all the muscles in the mouth didn't work so he had to learn to talk again," Angel Friday said.
After months of rehabilitation, he and his mother thought something could be done to give drivers more warning and more time to make that left turn so the two went to the city of Overland Park to get a flashing yellow light at that intersection.
But it wasn't easy - state and federal traffic guidelines had to be met.
"When we first met him, this arrangement hadn't been adopted by the Feds," said Brian Shields, City Traffic Engineer of Overland Park.
Three years later, the intersection has four lights instead of three - a green light, yellow light, a yellow flashing light and a red light.
"If you see a yellow arrow or a flashing yellow arrow just be more cautious. Especially on a flashing yellow you'll have more time to make that turn as long as no one's coming the other way," Shields said.
When drivers see the flashing yellow, they need to be aware that traffic in the opposite direction is still coming, and those waiting to turn must yield to oncoming traffic. With the addition of a flashing yellow arrow, left turns are permitted, and drivers must yield to oncoming traffic.
The steady light means to use caution because the light is about to change to red.
Vanwinkle is thankful to see it happen.
"This accident proved to me there is definitely a God. I'm alive, and that is a miracle in itself," Vanwinkle said.
Shields said there are about 250 accidents a year in Overland Park involving left hand turns and this could help reduce those by 20 percent.
Copyright 2012 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.
Tuesday, May 21 2013 3:29 PM EDT2013-05-21 19:29:04 GMT
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