Transportation officials are installing new traffic lights nationwide that include a new feature they say will simplify left turns for drivers: flashing yellow arrows. But rather than have their intended effects, there are already reports the lights are creating confusion among drivers.
How exactly should drivers proceed at a blinking yellow arrow?
"Be cautious," says an informational video prepared by the Michigan Department of Transportation.
"The flashing yellow arrow does not replace the solid yellow arrow and
it's (sic) meaning," states a brochure produced by the city of
Littleton, Collorado. "Drivers should always remember: a flashing yellow = turn with caution."
Still confused? You're not alone. Across the country, there has been
confusion surrounding the meaning of the flashing yellow arrows, which
were approved by the Federal Highway Administration in 2006, and
gradually installed in more recent years.
According to the FHA,
here's what drivers need to know: At a solid yellow left-turn arrow,
drivers still have the right of way, but the light is about to turn red.
At a flashing yellow left-turn arrow, drivers may still turn left, but
they must yield to oncoming traffic and pedestrians. Not everyone is
aware of the difference.
In Portland, Oregon, there are reportsof confusion among transportation officials, who have differing
interpretations of the laws that govern the new flashing yellow arrows. A
lawyer says examiners with the state's motor vehicles department
enforce the law on driver's tests with varying interpretations.
In Tyler, Texas, authorities investigated the role of a flashing yellow
arrow in an accident in which a motorist failed to yield to a motorcycle
that had the right of way. A man on the motorcycle died in the accident.
Last month in Michigan, a county executive was injured after another
driver failed to yield at a flashing yellow arrow. Following the
investigation, Craig Bryson, a spokesperson for the Road Commission for
Oakland County, told a local Patch news outlet, "Like anything new,
there may be a learning curve."