Light Fright? City engineer explains new flashing yellow lights

SALISBURY, NC (WBTV) - Concern over the new flashing yellow lights at several Salisbury intersections has a city engineer offering some helpful advice.

This week Wendy Brindle put forth the following explanation to help drivers with the new look at the intersections:

The use of flashing yellow arrows at busy intersections is becoming more popular in cities all over the country but there still is some driver confusion about how to treat the flashing yellow arrow when navigating through an intersection, according to Salisbury City Engineer Wendy Brindle.

Here are the basics:

·         A flashing yellow arrow means left turns are permitted, but a driver must first yield to oncoming traffic and pedestrians and then proceed with caution.

·         FYA 2The flashing yellow arrow is sometimes used to replace the solid green light, which remains a signal for a driver to proceed with a left turn after yielding to oncoming traffic and pedestrians.

·         When the available time for the flashing yellow arrow ends, the solid yellow left-turn arrow begins. The solid yellow retains its standard meaning: the left turn signal is about to go to red and you should prepare to stop, or prepare to complete your left turn if you are in the intersection.

·         A solid red arrow still means that drivers intending to turn left must stop and wait.

·         A solid green arrow means left turns have the right-of-way and oncoming traffic has a red light.

"Many drivers naturally think a solid green means go," says Brindle. "However, some drivers forget to yield to oncoming traffic when they have a green light. We hope the change to a flashing yellow arrow will become more intuitive for drivers."

The Federal Highway Administration authorized use of flashing yellow arrows in 2009 after extensive testing. Studies show that drivers had fewer crashes with flashing yellow left-turn arrows than with traditional yield-on-green signal configurations.