Sunday, April 17, 2011
First roundabouts, now flashing yellow left turn yield arrow lights.
Motorists soon will experience flashing yellow left turn yield arrow lights at four state road intersections in Fulton.
Weather permitting, installation of the new signal lights will begin this week in Fulton.
Flashing yellow left turn yield lights will be installed at the Route F and Westminster Avenue intersection where a Break Time convenience store is located near Westminster College.
They also will be installed at three other intersections along Business 54 known as North Bluff Street.
One will be on North Bluff Street at Route Z and Campus Drive near the east entrance to William Woods University.
Another will be on North Bluff Street at Douglas Boulevard at the entrance to Walmart.
The last to be installed on North Bluff Street will be at Industrial Drive near Fulton High School.
A yellow flashing left turn yield arrow light means the same as a left turn yield on green signal. It is activated only when green lights are on in driving lanes. When the flashing left turn yield yellow arrow turns to a solid yellow color, it no longer is safe to make the turn because green lights in crossing lanes are about to be activated.
The new light is known as “Yield On Flashing Yellow Arrow.” It replaces the traditional “Left Turn Yield On Green Ball” light currently in use an many dedicated left-turn lanes.
Brandon Campbell, MoDOT senior traffic studies specialist, said “experts believe this will be safer. We have had feedback both for and against the flashing yellow left turn yield arrows. Sometime people are confused by left turn yield on green lights. They see the green light and just turn even though traffic is coming through the intersection and they don’t have the right-of-way. With a flashing yellow arrow, a confused driver is more likely to wait, assess the situation and then turn.”
Campbell said MoDOT often receives requests for more flashing left turn arrow lights after they have been installed in an area.
Flashing yellow left turn yield lights have been installed on state highway system roads in four other Central Missouri cities. They are Jefferson City, Columbia, Tipton and Owensville.
Motorists waiting to make left turns often don’t have to wait as long at signals equipped with the yellow arrow lights.
After it is activated, a flashing yellow left turn arrow turns to a solid yellow left turn arrow. This should be treated like a standard yellow light and drivers should prepare to stop before the red light appears.
Drivers will still be required to yield on a green ball when no dedicated left-turn lane is available.
“In Fulton we will use the three-section signal heads on the side streets of the intersections and we will use the four-section signal heads on the main lines,” Campbell said.
Where left turns are permitted, a three-section signal head will have a circular red light at the top, a flashing yellow left turn arrow in the center and a solid yellow left turn arrow at the bottom.
Where left turns are permitted, a four-section signal head will have the same configuration as a three-section signal head but it also will have a solid green arrow light mounted at the bottom.
When the green arrow is on, that means it is a protected left turn and all oncoming traffic will be stopped when the left turn is made.
“A green arrow means you have the right of way and a flashing yellow arrow means you have to yield to oncoming traffic,” Campbell said.
Drivers turning from North Bluff Street (Business 54) to a side street will see four-section signal heads. Motorists turning from a side street to North Bluff Street (Business 54) will see three-section signal heads.
During the installation at each intersection, the left turn lanes will close periodically and the intersection’s signal system will be set to a four-way stop.