Why do traffic lights have a flashing yellow arrow?

Learn more about flashing yellow arrow traffic lights. Find out what they are, how to use them and why they are becoming the standard.

Drivers around Texas may notice that there are changes to stop lights in some areas. The introduction of a flashing yellow arrow may be confusing for many drivers. Learning how to respond to these lights is important to keep everyone safe on the road. Confusion could lead to accidents, which is directly the opposite of the intention.

The meaning of the yellow flashing arrow

For a while, the Texas Department of Transportation has been phasing in a new type of traffic light. This light is similar to a regular traffic light except instead of the round shape, each light is an arrow. These lights are specifically for left turn lanes.

The red arrow means drivers cannot make a left turn. The green arrow means drivers can make a left turn and that the oncoming traffic has a red light, so they do not need to yield. The yellow arrow is a little more complex. If it is flashing, then drivers may turn left, but they must yield to oncoming traffic and pedestrians. If the arrow is solid yellow, it indicates the light will turn red, and drivers should clear the intersection.

The reason for the yellow flashing arrow

The reason for implementing the yellow flashing arrow traffic signal has a basis in safety. Studies have shown it helps to reduce traffic accidents. It allows for better traffic flow with less congestion in busy areas because it allows for more turn time. It also reduces any confusion between the lights for the turn lane and the other lanes of traffic because it is a special light with a different look. Overall, it creates more efficiency in controlling traffic and provides a better way to customize lights to traffic flow. The DOT believes firmly in this light's ability to make roads safer and is gradually phasing them in as the new standard.

Possible concerns

Of course, change can be difficult. According to KXXV, there have been some concerns that these lights are too confusing and may be causing vehicle crashes. The concerns come from an increase in accidents at some intersections since the installation of the lights. However, it is important to look at specific situations. These increases have been very limited in occurrence. They also seem to affect wider intersections. The thought is the problem is not the light but the drivers misjudging how much time they need to cross the intersection safely. In general, the lights have worked as intended and have helped to increase traffic flow.

If a driver has an issue with the new flashing yellow arrow traffic signals or is in an accident at an intersection due to a left turn, it is always wise for him or her to contact a knowledgeable attorney, such as Lorenz & Lorenz, L.L.P. An attorney can assist with figuring out fault and help a driver to better handle the aftermath.