Puzzled By Flashing Yellow Left-Turn Arrows? 11-17-2010 - WNEM TV 5

Puzzled By Flashing Yellow Left-Turn Arrows? 11-17-2010

SAGINAW, Mich. -- You may have begun to notice a new style of left-turn signal on Michigan's roads.
The switch has confused many drivers because, traditionally, left turns have been made from lanes where the signal light is flashing red. But due to a new federal mandate, those signals will be replaced with new four-light flashing signals at intersections where there is a separate left-turn arrow signal.
In the coming years, this type of signal will replace all flashing red left-turn signals.
Why the change?
This change is the result of a national study conducted for the Federal Highway Administration, which demonstrated that the new signals:
  • Help to prevent crashes
  • Move more traffic through an intersection
  • Provide additional traffic management flexibility

Why is it a better left-turn signal?
  • It's safer. The FHA national study demonstrated that drivers made fewer mistakes with the new signals than with traditional left-turn arrow signals.
  • It's more efficient. The new signals provide traffic engineers with more options to handle variable traffic volumes.
  • It's more consistent. You'll see the same signals in every state because the new signals are being introduced throughout the U.S.

How does it work?
The new signals flash a solid red, green and yellow arrows, plus a flashing yellow arrow:
  • Red means stop, do not turn
  • Green means proceed, oncoming traffic has stopped
  • Yellow means prepare to stop
  • Flashing yellow means turn once traffic is clear

The Michigan Department of Transportation admits there will be a learning curve, but has posted a video on its YouTube channel to help clear the confusion:

-- Information courtesy: www.michigan.gov/flashingyellowarrow
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