Pennsylvania this month joined the growing list of states that make use of a relatively new type of left turn signal: the flashing yellow arrow.
Because some drivers are still unfamiliar with this kind of signal, they can be caught off-guard and left a little perplexed about how to respond. That indecision can lead to mistakes, so this is a good time to remind drivers of what that signal means.
The flashing yellow arrow indicates that drivers must yield to oncoming traffic and pedestrians before completing the left turn.
The other three left turn arrows in the signal configuration retain their original meaning:
- A steady green left arrow means the left turn is protected and oncoming traffic must stop.
- A steady yellow left arrow means left turns should stop because the signal is about to change to red.
- A steady red left arrow means left turns must stop and cannot proceed.
So why add the flashing yellow left arrow?
“According to research funded by the Federal Highway Administration, left turn crashes can be reduced by as much as 20 percent after the installation of the Flashing Yellow Arrow signal,” said the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) in a released statement. “Also, Flashing Yellow Arrow signals can be adjusted depending on the time of day, reducing delays and improving mobility.”
Flashing yellow arrows can improve left-turning safety by helping to remind motorists that they should yield while making left turns when there’s oncoming traffic and pedestrians. To watch a related video from PennDOT, click on the photo or link below the headline.