Calculate Change and Clearance Intervals Recall that the change interval corresponds to the yellow time and the clearance interval corresponds to the all-red time. If an all-red interval does not exist, then the yellow time is considered as both the change and clearance intervals. The change interval alerts drivers that the green interval is about to end and that they should come to stop before entering the intersection, or continue through the intersection if they are too close to come to a safe stop. The clearance interval allows those vehicles that might have entered the intersection at the end of the yellow to clear the intersection before conflicting traffic movements are given a green signal indication. In the past, the yellow indication was intended to also allow for clearance time. Today, however, there is routine red-indication abuse and frequent running of red indications after the yellow time. As a result, the all- red indication is often implemented.
Typically, the yellow time is in the range of 3 to 5 seconds. Warning times that are shorter than 3 seconds and longer than 5 seconds are not practical because long warning times encourage motorists to continue to enter the intersection whereas short times can place the driver in a dilemma zone. A dilemma zone is created for the driver if a safe stop before the intersection cannot be accomplished, and continuing through the intersection at a constant speed (without accelerating) will result in the vehicle entering the intersection during a red indication. If a dilemma zone exists, drivers always make the wrong decision, whether they decide to stop or to continue through the intersection.Referring to this figure, suppose a vehicle traveling at a constant speed requires distance xs to stop. If the vehicle is closer to the intersection than distance dd, then it can enter before the all-red indication. If the vehicle is in the shaded area (xs − dd from the intersection) when the yellow light is displayed, the driver is in the dilemma zone and can neither stop in time nor continue through the intersection at a constant speed without passing through a red indication.
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