VDOT expands use of flashing yellow arrow signals in southwest and southside Virginia

road-work-headerThe Virginia Department of Transportation is beginning a $1.6-million project to change traffic signals at 91 intersections throughout southwest and southside Virginia. The change affects only left turn movements at these intersections where the signal heads over the left turn lanes will be switched out. Signs advising drivers to make “left turn on flashing yellow arrow” will be installed temporarily at signal locations for 30 days to communicate this change.

The new traffic signals will use flashing yellow arrows to allow drivers to turn left after yielding to oncoming traffic. These new signals will replace the old solid green ball for left turns at various intersections in Amherst, Appomattox, Bedford, Buckingham, Campbell, Franklin, Halifax, Henry, Montgomery, Patrick, Pittsylvania, Prince Edward and Roanoke counties.

Work to replace the signals will begin the week of October 1 and is expected to be completed before the end of the year. When a signal head is being changed out, lane closures may be in place and local law enforcement will control traffic at that location. Work will be scheduled for daytime hours outside of peak commuting times and should affect each intersection for only a few hours.

Flashing yellow arrows are more effective than the more common circular green light and other signals at conveying to drivers the need to yield to oncoming traffic and pedestrians when turning left. Studies have shown that after a short learning period flashing yellow signals are better understood, better obeyed and are safer. A flashing yellow arrow is more intuitive for communicating to drivers the need to yield to oncoming traffic than a solid green light.

VDOT is expanding use of the flashing yellow arrow signals based on local success with these types of signals reducing the number of crashes associated with left turn movements at three intersections on the Route 419 corridor in Roanoke County. In April 2013, VDOT installed flashing yellow arrows at Route 419’s intersections with Chaparral Drive, Colonial Avenue and Springwood Park Drive. Among these three intersections, there were 52 left turn crashes, which tend to be the most severe of all crashes, from April 2009 through April 2013. Since the new signals were installed, there have been only 6 left turn crashes in 17 months, which represents a considerable safety improvement.

Flashing yellow arrows have become a new national standard, and drivers can expect expanded use in Virginia and throughout the United States.

For a complete list of intersections where the new flashing yellow arrow will be installed in southwest and southside Virginia, visit http://www.virginiadot.org/projects/resources/Salem/Flashing_Yellow_Arrow/Flashing_Yellow_Arrow_Intersection_list.pdf

For more information on the flashing yellow arrow project, view the video at

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