Use of yellow arrow traffic signal expanding

Use of yellow arrow traffic signal expanding

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - The flashing yellow light seen in some Jonesboro intersections may confuse some drivers but they prove to be safer for them.

Mark Nichols, the Traffic Operations Engineer for the city of Jonesboro, said this new signal is proven to be more intuitive to drivers. A study conducted in 2003 showed that the flashing yellow arrow was more efficient at letting drivers know that they need to yield before turning.

Many cities around the country are beginning to install the flashing yellow arrow because of the study.

Nichols said Jonesboro has about 25 flashing yellow arrows in town and plan to bring in 8 more. He said Jonesboro residents are calling him to say that they see the benefits of these new lights.

Nichols said his department has yet to see an increase in accidents in these areas.

"We haven't seen an increase in accidents," Nichols said. "We do study accident patterns throughout the city, we look for hot spots and try to address those. And we haven't seen an increase. Matter of fact, nationally there have been multiple studies that show there is a decrease."

The color of the arrow is aimed at appealing to the rule of society everyone learned as a kid. Red means stop, yellow means caution and green means go.

"If you're not paying attention and you're in a left turn lane, and all of a sudden the green ball comes up in front of you, you may be likely to just intuitively feel like you have the right away," Nichols said. "Where if it's a flashing yellow arrow, you know yellow means caution and so that's more intuitive to drivers that that's a caution indication."

Nichols said what it really comes down to is how comfortable drivers feel when in the turn lane. He said every driver is different and some people need more room between vehicles before they make the turn.

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