New Protected Left Signal

Left turn

 

Avoiding Intersection Crashes

About 40 percent of crashes are at intersections. To avoid the risk of an intersection crash, safe fleets minimize making left turns. It doesn’t matter how much experience a driver has. It doesn’t matter how much training a driver has. Making a left turn, like backing, always has an element of inherent risk. So major fleets (like UPS and others) have a policy against both, if possible.

The risk in making a left turn comes from missing visual cues or in mistiming the turn. Sometimes oncoming vehicles can visually blend in with the background. Sometimes pedestrians, wheelchairs, or bicycles are hard to spot in the crosswalk. Slowing for a pedestrian in a left turn can result in a commercial truck blocking the path of an on-coming vehicle and lead to a greater risk of collision.

Some intersections are big and complicated. Some cities like Memphis, TN or Broken Arrow, OK, are now in the process of adding the next generation of traffic signals.  The new signals allow protected and permissive left turns from dedicated left-turn lanes.

The Flashing Yellow Arrow Left-Turn Signal

The new left turn traffic signal head includes the standard Red, Yellow and Green arrows which have been used for years, along with an additional “flashing yellow arrow”.
protected left turn

If the signal is a…
Red Arrow Stop. Left turn is not permitted.
Green Arrow It is safe to turn left. Oncoming traffic must stop.
Flashing Yellow Arrow Left turn is permitted, but driver must yield to oncoming traffic or pedestrians.
Steady Yellow Arrow Driver must prepare to stop as arrow is about to turn red.

The biggest difference in the new signals is between the yellow arrows. A steady yellow arrow is like an ordinary yellow light, you must stop, if it is safe to do so, as the arrow will soon go red. The flashing yellow arrow permits a left turn, after yielding to traffic or any pedestrians.

Like any intersection, always be ready to yield the right of way, even on a green.

Thank you for reading this.