Joan Morris 703-259-1799

Jennifer McCord 703-259-1779


June 14, 2012

Flashing yellow arrow makes turning left safer

BLUE RIDGE—The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) is installing a new type of traffic signal on Route 9 (Charles Town Pike) that will make turning left onto Route 287 (Berlin Turnpike) safer for motorists. VDOT will activate the signal on June 20.

The new signal will include a flashing yellow arrow to alert motorists when they should yield to oncoming traffic before making a left turn. Traditional left-turn signals have a solid green circle.

“Studies show drivers understand flashing yellow arrows better than the usual signal display of a circular green ball,” said VDOT traffic engineer Randy Dittberner.  “A flashing yellow arrow means it’s safe to turn left after waiting for a gap in opposing traffic.”

According to the National Cooperative Highway Research Program, a left turn is one of the most dangerous movements a motorist can make.  Their 2009 study to access driver understanding of and response to various left-turn controls revealed that the flashing arrow was safer and more effective than the common circular green light at conveying the need to yield before turning left.

Route 9 carries about 15,000 vehicles per day, but during rush hour the peak direction carries as many as 900 vehicles per hour. Route 287 carries about 6,000 vehicles a day, with over 400 approaching vehicles per hour during the peak period.   All four legs of the intersection have just one approach lane for through traffic, which severely constrains capacity, particularly during the morning and evening rush hours.

There have been 26 crashes at the Route 9/287 intersection over the past five years.

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Information in VDOT news releases was accurate at the time the release was published. For the most current information about projects or programs, please visit the project or program Web pages. You may find those by searching by keyword in the search Virginia DOT box above.

Page last modified: Oct. 17, 2012