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Plymouth Police Urge Caution at Flashing Yellow Turn Arrows

Post Date:04/10/2017 8:38 am
Traffic signals that feature a flashing yellow arrow have become an increasingly common method of intersection control in the metro area. Plymouth Police want motorists to know that while flashing yellow arrows can improve traffic flow, motorists can also create safety hazards if they don’t encounter them appropriately. 

Plymouth Police are hearing complaints about drivers who take risks at flashing yellow arrows or honk at those in front of them who choose to wait for a larger gap in oncoming traffic.  

Additionally, police know of at least one Plymouth intersection where an analysis of crashes showed that nearly half were due to drivers not yielding at a flashing yellow arrow. Plymouth Police examined data from March 10, 2016 through Feb. 22, 2017 for the intersection of Rockford Road and Fernbrook Lane. The intersection was the site of 34 crashes. Sixteen crashes – or 47 percent – directly related to a vehicle failing to yield at a flashing yellow arrow. 

The Plymouth Traffic Unit has been working with Hennepin County to reprogram and restrict the timing of the flashing yellow turn arrows to address safety issues. Traffic officers have also requested that signals be changed to disable flashing yellow arrows when pedestrians push the walk button to increase pedestrian safety in crosswalks.  

Police Chief Mike Goldstein emphasized that safety needs to be the top priority for motorists at intersections. “Distraction, impatience and lack of understanding can contribute to serious and even deadly crashes. Nearly half of the crashes at Fernbrook Lane and Rockford Road could have been avoided had people properly yielded or if motorists had shown some courtesy and not honked at the driver in front of them – encouraging them to turn when they did not feel it was safe to do so,” he said. 

How Flashing Yellow Turn Arrows Work
The signals feature the standard red, yellow and green arrows, but also include a flashing yellow arrow, which allows waiting motorists to make a left-hand turn after yielding to oncoming traffic. 

What the signals mean:
Red arrow: Drivers must stop and wait – do not enter an intersection to turn. 

Solid yellow arrow: The left turn signal is about to change to red – drivers should prepare to stop or complete a left turn with caution. 

Flashing yellow arrow: Drivers are allowed to turn left after yielding to all oncoming traffic and pedestrians. Oncoming traffic has a green light, so drivers must wait for a safe gap to turn. 

Green arrow: Left turns have the right of way. Oncoming traffic has a red light.
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