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It’s been in the news lately (see articles here, here and here) that flashing yellow arrows are coming to Alabama. Actually, a few are already here, including at a location just a few minutes from our Birmingham office on U.S. 280 at Overton Road.
Although still new, flashing yellow arrows are more common in many other states, and we have called for them in a few of our recent signal design projects. The goal of these arrows is to help move left-turning traffic through intersections more safely and efficiently. They are part of a four-arrow signal and are used where left turns are permitted after yielding to oncoming traffic.
Drivers first see a solid green arrow for a protected left turn phase, followed by a solid yellow arrow and a solid red arrow to allow traffic to clear. The flashing yellow arrow then signifies that left turns are permitted after yielding to oncoming traffic and pedestrians.
A location in Baldwin County also got a flashing yellow arrow recently. The intersection at U.S. 98 and Bass Pro Drive is the first among several that will be installed in the area, part of a new system that includes flashing yellow arrows at left turn lanes at seventeen intersections on U.S. 98 between Spanish Fort and Fairhope. This is the first large roadway corridor in Alabama to have these signals installed.
Flashing yellow arrows are part of a national effort led by Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) to improve safety for left-turning traffic at signalized intersections. Research shows that flashing yellow arrows are safer and easier for drivers to understand than the standard green light most Alabamians are used to seeing when making permitted left turns.
Next time you encounter a flashing yellow arrow don’t panic. Just remember a flashing arrow means you may turn after you yield to oncoming traffic.
Photo by AL.com / Mike D. Smith email@example.com