State Route 500 near Vancouver, Washington, is a busy multi-lane highway connecting two interstate freeways – I-5 and I-205.

Under federal and state transportation guidelines, traffic signals are disfavored on high-speed highways. The Federal Highway Administration [FHWA] warns that signals “significantly increase rear-end collisions.” In 2016, a Washington State Department of Transportation [WSDOT] Regional Engineer reports:

Unfortunately, history and data have shown that signals do not reduce the number of serious or fatal accidents. As a matter of fact, they increase.

Nevertheless, WSDOT installs and maintains a signal at the NE 54th Avenue intersection. As traffic volumes increase, cars heading west on SR 500 are backed up because vehicles that are turning left at the intersection block the lane. Morning rush hour traffic sometimes backs up over half a mile.

From 2012 to 2016 193 rear-end collisions have occur here.


On Monday, February 5, 2018, Pamela Dunham heads to work, driving westbound on SR 500. Three-quarters of a mile back of the NE 54th intersection, traffic is stopping ahead of her. She brakes. Behind her, coming over the hill, a pickup truck fails to stop before violently slamming into her.

Pam is rendered quadriplegic.

Seemingly miraculously – in one weekend – WSDOT removes the traffic signal, closes off left turns, and stripes a “Right Off/Right In” outlet for the intersection:

The fix costs only $860,000 and is declared “inexpensive” by WSDOT. The Right Off/Right In solution had been in use in Washington and across the United State for many years. WSDOT offers no excuse for having failed to install it here long before subjecting the public to the build-up of collisions and carnage.

Every case is different and results depend on their specific circumstances. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.