Flashing Yellow Signal

How does a flashing left-turn arrow work? 

A flashing yellow arrow means left turns are permitted, but you must first yield to oncoming traffic and pedestrians and then proceed with caution. The flashing yellow arrow does not replace the solid yellow arrow and its meaning. However, it does replace the green "ball" indication as a signal for a yielding left turn. Drivers should always remember: a flashing yellow = turn with caution. 

Solid red arrow = STOP
        • Drivers turning left must stop. 
Solid yellow arrow = Signal is about to change to red 
        • You may complete your turn only if you legally entered the intersection and there is no conflicting traffic present. 
    • You must yield to oncoming traffic and pedestrians and then proceed with caution.
Solid green arrow = TURN LEFT ONLY
      •  Oncoming traffic must stop. Do not go straight.
Light intervals are set short for this illustration only. Actual light intervals vary from signal to signal, depending on traffic and the time of day.

The Federal Highway Administration allows communities to use flashing yellow left-turn signals on certain roadway intersections. Currently, Arapahoe County has installed a flashing yellow arrow signal at the Broncos Parkway and Potomac Street intersection. The use of flashing yellow arrows are approved in the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices.

How should drivers approach a flashing yellow left-turn signal?

Drivers should stop at the intersection and yield to oncoming traffic. When it is safe, make your left turn and proceed through the intersection. 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 they should prepare to stop, or prepare to complete their left turn if they are in the intersection.

Why not use a solid green light instead of the flashing yellow arrow?

The solid green light is often misunderstood as a left-turn indicator. This is because drivers naturally think "green means go." Traffic making a left turn on a solid green light some times does not yield to oncoming traffic, which can result in more crashes. The flashing yellow arrow allows left turns but at the same time communicates the "caution" message to drivers. The flashing yellow arrow is especially effective at intersections with high volumes of traffic. The flashing yellow arrow will be operational when traffic volumes permit, typically during non-rush hours.

Are other cities in Colorado using this type of signal?

Yes. Communities in the Denver metro area have installed signals with flashing yellow arrows on certain intersections. CDOT also has installed several flashing yellow arrow signals on Highway 50.

For more information:

Contact Karl Packer in the Arapahoe County Transportation Division at 720-874-6500.

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