If you’ve ever been stuck in traffic at a red left turn arrow on Dave Lyle Blvd with no oncoming traffic — a new policy coming into effect May 1 may leave you and hundreds of thousands of South Carolina drivers in luck.
The first of the Flashing Yellow Arrows, will be installed later this week in Richland County on Parklane Road at the Carolina Research Park.
“It will be a very visible indication in your lane that will give you a cue on what to do,” said Carol Jones, SCDOT’s Traffic Signal and Systems Engineer.
“So many times as you’re getting further out in the intersection waiting to turn, you have to look far to the right to see what the signal light is doing. Having this type of signal head in your left turn lane will give you better visibility on what to do and at what point,” Jones said.
Similar flashing yellow arrows are already in place in North Carolina, at intersections where a protected left turn, or green left arrow, is in use.
Under the new flashing yellow arrow, drivers will be permitted to take a left turn using their own judgement of oncoming traffic.
City of Rock Hill Transportation Planner David Hooper says while the S.C. Department of Transportation has ultimate authority of where the Flashing Yellow Arrows are installed, he envisions a number of Rock Hill intersections where they would make sense.
The new signal head will replace the “5-section cluster” (or “doghouse”) style left-turn signal head at certain locations. The new Flashing Yellow Arrow signal head will also be installed in some locations where there currently is no arrow signal for left turns. In this case, the signal will flash yellow when opposing traffic has the green light.
The FYA will be part of a four-section signal head that includes, (from top to bottom), a solid red arrow, a solid yellow arrow, a flashing yellow arrow, and a solid green arrow.
State officials say they plan to install 10 to 15 new flashing yellow arrow signals in the coming year.
Hooper said he welcomes the new types of turn arrows — and says the learning curve is fairly easy for drivers not used to the flashing arrow.