Jason Bond 540-387-5493

SAL 34

Aug. 16, 2010

Signal will be installed on Chaparral Drive in Roanoke County

Flashing yellow arrowSALEM – On Wednesday, Aug. 18, the Virginia Department of Transportation plans to activate a new type of traffic signal with a flashing yellow arrow that will be used for the first time in southwest Virginia.  The new signal will control traffic turning left from Route 800 (Chaparral Drive) onto Route 687 (Penn Forest Boulevard) in Roanoke County.  VDOT will install temporary signs to alert drivers to the change.

The new signal will display four arrows to regulate traffic flow: a red arrow to tell drivers to stop; a steady yellow light to communicate that the light is changing, so drivers should be cautious in making a left turn; a flashing yellow which means drivers may turn left after yielding to oncoming traffic; and a green arrow to show that the driver has the right of way to make a left turn.

With the old signal, drivers had to wait for a solid green arrow to turn left from Chaparral Drive onto Penn Forest Boulevard.  The new signal will use a flashing yellow arrow to designate permissive left turns.  Engineers use the term “permissive left turn” to describe the traffic movement where drivers should yield to oncoming traffic and only make left turns when oncoming traffic is clear.  The new flashing yellow arrow will be used instead of the more commonly used solid circular green light to communicate a permissive left turn to drivers.

Flashing yellow arrows are more effective than the more common circular green light and other signals at conveying to drivers the need to yield before turning left at permissive turns. 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 than a solid green light to communicate a permissive left turn to drivers.

Engineers across the country have recently begun installing flashing yellow signals with nearly half of all states now having at least one.  In June, VDOT first used a flashing yellow arrow signal when three were activated on Route 60 in James City County at the entrance to Busch Gardens.  View a video of these flashing yellow arrow signals in use.

VDOT plans to expand use of the flashing yellow arrow signals in southwest Virginia in the future.

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